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China Is Rising: How To Adapt Your Digital Customer Experience

made-in-china

There was a time when China was considered a mere source of labor, with all its factories busy creating  products designed to be used elsewhere. That time is (almost) over. Asian countries are ramping up efforts to compete with Western economies in their point of excellence: creativity. China is slowly becoming the land of innovative companies, and a new type of customer is shaping up. A customer you can't ignore. Numbers are on their side - people and assets - and they are rebuilding markets and customer experience.

The Western way of thinking about China companies has been built on misconceptions and prejudices: "we have ideas and they have labor". Maybe that could have been true 20 years ago, surely not now. In 2014 release of World’s Most Innovative Companies list by Forbes, Asia contributes with one quarter of the firms; and of the Top Ten, five are Chinese. Brands that are not just exotic names anymore: Tencent, Baidu, Xiaomi, Alibaba, Weibo, are the names of the future.

Two recent news confirm that the tiger is roaring more than ever:

  • Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant recently listed in New York after an incredible IPO, has surpassed in market valuation the behemoth Walmart - the world’s largest retailer by revenues.

  • Xiaomi, the Chinese electronics company headquartered in Beijing has become the the world’s third largest smartphone maker, right after Samsung and Apple and surpassing Chinese Lenovo and LG.

Internet and mobile is the field where a few thrilling battles are taking place:

  • Tencent, the fourth-largest Internet company in the world, against Facebook and PayPal for the control of messaging and payment mobile applications (WeChat, TenPay).

  • Baidu, a web service company, against Google and Wikipedia for the control of search and online encyclopedia.

  • Weibo, maybe the mosto popular microblogging website in China, against Twitter and Facebook for the control of social media.

China’s creativity rise will have deep - and sometimes unexpected - effects on your digital marketing strategy and digital customer experience. It is not easy to foresee what is really going to happen in the next future, but some trends are already shaping our new economic world:

  1. Production shift: as Chinese companies focus on development and creation, more than production and wages grow, factories owners will search for more convenient areas to settle their industries. Western companies must adapt their strategies accordingly.

  2. Innovation Made in China: goodbye assembly lines. The world’s most populous nation is already producing companies that are major players in innovation. From now on, more and more prominent companies will come from developing countries. Asia is the new horizon if you look for digital transformation and innovative products.

  3. Say hi to your new customer: the global economy is rebalancing. While consumption in the U.S. and Europe is constrained by weaker job prospects and stagnant wages, in China and other developing nations disposable income is rapidly increasing. We are at the dawn of a new Age of the Customer, the Asian customer (Alibaba is a prime example).

  4. Your next partner will be Chinese: or Indian, because companies from developing markets are already investing around the world. Western markets have become a big store where Asian investors scan for bargains: Chinese companies have invested more than 500 billion USD around the world since 2005. It is likely, then, that your next job partner - or even your employer - will come from a developing country.

What should you do to adapt your digital customer experience?

  • Customer Journey: new buyer personas require a new customer journey map, with different touchpoints. First thing you have to understand is who are you talking to.

  • Content Strategy: another country, other tastes, other backgrounds and cultural substrates. You need to create a proper content strategy and storytelling, personalized and compelling, from these new points of view.

  • Mobile First: the easiest way to reach this new customer is starting mobile. Thinking and acting digital is the necessary premise to connect with them. How? Focusing on disruptive technologies (beacons, Apple Pay), and creating a localized app plus responsive web assets perfectly usable on smartphone and tablets.

  • Sense of exclusivity: this is a high-spending wealthy clientele. They choose you not just for your product, but for your brand and the power of its essence. Your digital strategy needs to offer an outstanding brand experience to enhance the sense of exclusive: digital showroom, virtual personal assistant, augmented reality.
Topics: Digital Customer Experience