Chinese Brands How to Create 1000 Images in the Eyes of 1000 Foreigners | An Analysis of impactcom’s Marketing Handbook for Going Global – Strategic Edition
Analysis of impactcom's Marketing Handbook for Going Global - Strategic Edition on creating 1000 images of Chinese brands in the eyes of 1000 foreigners
Article | Ivy
“I followed my family to move to the United States during my teenage years. At the beginning, I still had no concept of local basic consumer brands. One day, a classmate from the American Midwest invited us to DQ (one of the mainstream ice cream brands in the US) on a whim. Embarrassingly, in that era without electronic information assistance, we had to explore unknown addresses on foot. All day long, a group of students with unknown goals flowed in groups on the streets of the city. That was probably the most glorious moment of DQ in my life: in that classmate’s eyes, DQ was the only ice cream in his heart, a necessary, essential, and destined existence.”
“But when I held that tube of ice cream in my hand, what I suddenly remembered was the Bright Dairy milk ice cream from a small shop in front of my childhood home. I don’t remember what the small shop looked like anymore, but I will never forget the taste of Bright Dairy milk ice cream there for the rest of my life. Everyone has a Bright Dairy milk ice cream in their memory. You know it is there, and you hope it will still be there tomorrow, and you hope it will always be there.”
This is a childhood experience shared by Jennifer Zhang (abbreviated as JZ later) – the person in charge of Impact.com Greater China. And this kind of taste and scene that is determined in childhood seems to be in everyone’s heart. This is an emotional attachment of consumers to a certain consumer product, or it can be said to be a “emotional value”. “Emotional value” has become a new important dimension of marketing evaluation,” JZ wrote in the report “Handbook of Overseas Marketing Strategy Version”. In the report, it is mentioned that in addition to a certain emotional attachment, emotional value covers a broader range. “Consumers are like walking into a big shopping mall that is doing a mid-year promotion. They originally just wanted to buy a facial cleanser, but because they felt that it was very cost-effective after the discount, they bought a bunch of unnecessary things and brought them home. It’s like seeing interesting ornaments at a roadside stall. It’s originally an optional thing, but because of the buy ten get two free promotion, after communicating with the shop owner, they bought an extra one, and will also show off and be happy to people around them.”
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It can be seen that the “emotional value” that mobilizes consumers’ interest in the brand and triggers purchasing behavior does not have a fixed answer. Because in the hearts of a thousand people, there are a thousand different answers. But without a doubt, learning to strike a chord with consumers is very important, and this emotional value can help brands easily win in a fiercely competitive market environment. If leaving a deep brand impression in consumers’ minds is a consensus among all brand people, then overseas companies have to face a problem-they are difficult to establish a “brand impression” across cultures, regions, customs, and languages. As a result, consumers’ purchasing, support, and repurchasing behaviors become even more difficult to talk about.”
So, for brands that are accelerating towards globalization, how to “correctly” provide emotional value to consumers and establish a unique “one-to-one” relationship with them becomes especially important. The text within the “Outbound Marketing Handbook Strategic Edition” has provided multiple answers from various perspectives. In this article, Morketing will interpret why, how, and what to do from different angles.
How to understand creating a “one-to-one” relationship with consumers?
Firstly, let’s explain what a “one-to-one relationship” between a brand and a consumer is: Due to the different personal growth experiences and spiritual worlds of consumers, they have formed an understanding of the brand based on their own values. This understanding is unique. We can consider the relationship between any consumer and any brand as a “one-to-one relationship.” And when more and more consumers obtain the emotional value they want from a brand and become enamored with it, the brand will have more loyal users. Looking back at the rise and fall of the digital advertising industry over the past decade, with the significant improvement of the global market’s internet penetration rate and Martech level, the non-linearity of consumer buying paths has become stronger. To a large extent, the relationship between the buyer and the seller is no longer triggered directly by the seller; instead, consumers make purchasing decisions more spontaneously, randomly, and emotionally after multiple catalysts. impact.com analyzed in the “Outbound Marketing Handbook Strategic Edition,” “The non-linear changes in consumer purchasing paths make it possible for consumers to make purchase decisions at every stage of the entire consumption path.” Therefore, brands now have completely different marketing opportunities than in the traditional media era. In the past, consumers remembered a brand unilaterally by seeing a beautiful ice cream box in a small convenience store downstairs or an Oreo advertisement on TV that said “lick, twist, dunk.” Now, with systematic and scientific marketing methods, brands can take the initiative to provide positive emotional value and maintain a one-to-one relationship with consumers. To some extent, in the era of “one-to-one relationships,” the brand image is more random and varies from person to person. Of course, this “one-to-one relationship” also exists in a more direct and simple way. Previously, the founder and CEO of the outbound trendy jewelry brand Aporro, Chen Quncheng, told Morketing that he would spend the whole night scrolling through Instagram and establishing personalized products with overseas KOLs to leave a deep impression on them. And when KOLs truly fall in love with Aporro’s products, they will spontaneously share them again, causing the brand to undergo fission and growth overseas. For example, last summer, Yuanqi Forest entered the Meta offices in Singapore, Australia, and Hong Kong, offering free drinks. Yuanqi Forest allowed Meta employees to freely mix and match flavors during the process of “exchanging” drinks, and Meta employees remembered this Chinese sparkling water brand. It can be seen that receiving a chat initiated by a Chinese brand on social media and having the opportunity to co-create cool products with them; DIYing a refreshing and brainwashing drink during work, with all the raw materials coming from a Chinese enterprise that traveled a long way… Such experiences can successfully leave a deep impression in the minds of consumers, and this unique “one-to-one relationship” once established will be particularly firm. The “Outbound Marketing Handbook Strategic Edition” introduces a concept called “Shopping is becoming a sport” specifically for overseas. Compared to the products themselves, consumers enjoy the joy of bargaining, picking up discounted products, discovering brand concepts that match their own ideas, and unexpected joy from receiving cute gifts. JZ also pointed out, “Nowadays, consumers pay more attention to the consumption experience, and the process of shopping is sometimes more enjoyable than the meaning of shopping itself.” So, how many ways are there for brands to establish a “one-to-one relationship”? To use professional marketing terms, the answer may be KOL, Affiliates (affiliate marketing), product packaging, Coupons (discount coupons), Deals (promotions), short videos… each form can become a direct incentive to trigger consumer preferences.
Therefore, under the trend of “one-to-one” relationship in brand marketing, brands are actually facing a dilemma: strengthening consumers’ personalized experience requires brands to provide more rich content, more diverse forms, and more personalized tone to communicate with consumers. But how to systematically integrate resources and forge this “one-to-one” capability?
How can brands establish “one-to-one relationships”?
By consulting the “Overseas Marketing Handbook-Strategic Edition”, I found 4 key answers: product, partnership marketing, Gen Z consumer concept, brand localization.
First of all, product strength is the foundation for any brand, and this is beyond doubt. From the perspective of consumer relations, product strength is also an important factor for consumers to fall in love with a brand. In the section “Redefining Product Strength for Overseas Brands” in the “Overseas Marketing Handbook-Strategic Edition”, it is pointed out that “consumer trust is the most important endogenous value of a brand“. In other words, good product strength can bring higher consumer trust, which is the fundamental prerequisite for brands to establish deep relationships with consumers.
Specifically, overseas brands can enhance their product strength in these three ways: First, based on consumer needs, select and/or produce products according to the research and judgment of the overseas target market; Second, create dynamic rather than static product strength, which means that companies can continuously explore new product values through “researching changes in consumer generations, technological progress, and scene extension”, etc.; Third, product strength is consistent with the brand concept, that is, from the product design stage to the marketing stage, maintain a unified and effective output. impact.com suggests that “in the design stage, companies need to find a consistent story between the concept and the product.”
1. In terms of marketing, we suggest that brands trying to go global should consider Partnership Technology (ParTech) for partner marketing. Essentially, partner marketing conforms to the “diverse” nature of digital marketing in today’s age – the channels through which consumers become aware of brands are diverse and non-linear, and brands must be able to efficiently “snipe” consumers at various touchpoints. In other words, the era demands a high level of media management from companies, and launching partner marketing projects can enable overseas companies to find partners who are aligned with their brand goals and views, such as KOLs, content media, network alliances, mobile apps, brand ambassadors, and sponsors. Through highly unified content, partner marketing can penetrate the dispersed decision-making paths of consumers, leveraging their power to promote the final purchase behavior. In 2019, JZ led Impact.com into China, serving many excellent overseas brands in managing their relationships with overseas partners and expanding into overseas markets. The “Going Global Marketing Handbook – Strategic Edition” states that “for overseas companies, launching partner marketing projects professionally, scientifically, and at scale can effectively increase the speed of producing derivative value, accelerate the rooting and sprouting of DTC brands in overseas markets, and achieve the sustainable development of brands.“
Essentially, the reason why partnership can help brands achieve sustainable development overseas is that from the consumer’s perspective, when they see brand marketing content and tonality that tends to be consistent across various media channels, they are more likely to establish a unified, profound, and vivid brand impression in their minds, making them more likely to truly fall in love with the brand.
2. At the core, we must first establish an understanding of the preferences of the Gen Z consumer group. Obviously, when brands share the same values and culture with consumers at the core, they are more easily accepted and genuinely loved by consumers.
For example, the green marketing case of the first brand to receive carbon neutrality certification among the four global organic mattress brands shared by JZ, Avocado. Avocado manufactures mattresses using all organic, non-toxic materials and collaborates with the non-profit organization Human-IT, which recycles and reuses electronic waste, through impact.com. On one hand, Avocado hands over waste products to Human-IT and donates them to those in need; on the other hand, Avocado promotes Human-IT’s charity work through online magazines and publishes transaction links through Human-IT’s channels to attract consumers who care about environmental protection and charity, thereby guiding them to purchase Avocado products.
Looking back at this case, Avocado increased sales, expanded the consumer base, enhanced the social value of the company, and consolidated the brand’s green genes… The underlying technology supporting this win-win marketing case of Avocado is partner marketing, and the underlying thinking is the concept of green marketing.
Similar cultures and consumer concepts are like “secret codes” between brands and consumers, and consumers have a sense of cultural belonging to brands that resonate with their ideas. We recommend that offshore brands choose the cultural trends that Gen Z loves, because on one hand, Gen Z is the main force and trend leader of overseas consumption; on the other hand, brands can often extend more timely, younger marketing actions around the avant-garde Gen Z concept.
Of course, in addition to green marketing, sustainable marketing, subcultures, and circular economy may also be the cultural keys that impress overseas Gen Z.
3. In terms of offshore actions, we suggest that offshore brands “localize” their brand. With independent websites and official social media becoming the standard for offshore enterprises, the pure cross-border e-commerce model that relies on product value for money is almost gone. All offshore enterprises have the awareness of direct communication with consumers, which also symbolizes the beginning of “brand localization”.
How to effectively localize your brand? JZ’s suggestion is to “use locals, speak the language, and do local things”. When a brand communicates with local consumers using more accurate language, the distance is reduced, and consumer trust in the brand increases. JZ mentioned that during the global partner marketing process, clothing brand ZAFUL used similar influencer collaborations in the UK, US, and France, but in Japan, it was very different.
This adaptable localization cooperation method can help brands overcome various cultural obstacles and differences in cross-border trade and appeal to the hearts of overseas consumers.
Therefore, Morketing recommends that Chinese enterprises use product strength as the core, ParTech capabilities as the foundation, consumer concepts as the meat and blood, and localization as the skin to build a healthy and sound overseas brand. In this way, enterprises will have comprehensive strength to establish a long-term “one-to-one” relationship with consumers around the world.
“One-to-one relationship” achieves brand recognition in the hearts of overseas consumers
A deep one-to-one relationship is not only a topic assigned to brands in today’s era but also an opportunity for overseas brands to surpass local brands in competition. After all, creating a sense of closeness and trust with consumers across the ocean has always been a weak point for overseas brands. In addition to the sense of closeness, Morketing believes that creating a loyal one-to-one relationship can bring at least two benefits to overseas brands: First, it helps brands achieve fission and long-term growth in a snowball effect. At the beginning of the rise of KOL and KOC concepts, their importance in brand fission was highly regarded. The real core figure that can help a brand build strong brand awareness and reputation is actually the brand’s consumers themselves. When a brand reaches consumers one by one through a network of partner relationships and makes them fall in love with the brand, they will have a high willingness to share it voluntarily, help the brand do secondary transmission, and achieve brand fission. Second, it promotes the diversity and globalization of brand culture. We must admit that even the best brand planning cannot make everyone love the content they create. However, when a brand begins to take one-to-one relationships seriously and reaches consumers through various partner relationships, it is more likely to create a richer brand culture matrix. For example, every role, such as overseas consumers, overseas media, overseas social media platforms, and overseas KOLs, can participate in cultural co-creation with the brand. In summary, when a brand truly establishes a deep “one-to-one relationship” with consumers through partner marketing, it creates a unique memory in the minds of each individual consumer. When an overseas brand establishes “1000 brand images in the minds of 1000 foreigners,” the brand’s overseas growth path enters a positive cycle.
“The most important function of a brand is to bring a sense of ‘security’ to consumers,” according to the book “Manufacturing Consumers”. How can a brand provide consumers with true security? The answer is still: “one-on-one relationship“. JZ provides his own answer in the “Outbound Marketing Handbook – Strategic Edition”. “Products, technology, channels, resources, environment, are all changing. The seemingly invisible changes in consumer characteristics are essentially an extension of changes in user (consumer) needs, and partnership marketing is centered on users.” The inspiration for the industry is that all of a brand’s hard power should serve consumer needs and provide emotional value. Only by establishing a solid one-on-one relationship with consumers through sincerity, technology, and service, can a brand maintain strong competitiveness in the face of change.
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