Cross-border commerce is a great way to break into the Chinese market, as millennials increasingly look abroad for quality products. But it’s not enough to flaunt the foreignness of your brand – you’ll need to engage with customers on a personal level.

THE MILLENNIAL CHINESE SHOPPERS

70% of online Chinese shoppers are under 35 years old (source: East West Bank). They are highly educated (nearly 9/10 hold a Bachelor’s degree), with many having studied abroad. This gives them a more international and technologically focused outlook than their parents and grandparents, as well as a pre-existing awareness of overseas brands and standards.

Unhindered by student loans or housing expenses and financially well-off, Chinese millennials are able to spend their money online.

While Chinese millennials are ready and capable to shop your products online, they’re very choosy about what they spend their money on. If you want their trust, you’ll have to meet these three requirements.

1) The Foreign Factor

Chinese shoppers have developed distrust for domestic products due to safety incidents, counterfeit goods and low regulation levels. That’s why their growing awareness of foreign brands and products has caused them to look overseas for quality.

Make your product information easily accessible and known in order to capitalize on your foreign quality.

2) Boutique Brands

Shoppers identify with brands that fit their personalities. They want to buy things that will help them stand out from the crowd. There is also a growing focus on brands’ history and values. If you want to connect with shoppers, you’ll need to embrace your heritage, selling your story in a personal, authentic way.

Customer service is also extremely important to shoppers. They want personal, direct communication with companies at any time and the opportunity to build real relationships with sellers. Therefore, it’s important to make yourself available. Platforms like Aliwangwang, Qzone and WeChat let customers contact you directly, which adds a valuable, personal touch.

Chinese shoppers value word-of-mouth endorsements because of the personal engagement. Analyzing your followers’ social media profiles can help you identify which celebrities to recruit for maximum impact.

If you prefer more personal endorsements, WeChat allows users to share vouchers with their friends, while Qzone allows users to share interesting blogs with their friends. If your customers are engaged and invested, you can turn them into effective brand ambassadors.

3) The Technological Revolution

The majority of China’s internet users skipped PCs and went straight for smartphones. That’s why you’ll need to make your content mobile-friendly if you want to engage with your shoppers.

This doesn’t just mean optimizing your website for smartphones. It also means leveraging social media platforms like WeChat, which have become hugely popular in China. In fact, many shoppers skip search engines and head straight to online marketplaces to find their products.

The logistics of buying overseas products is difficult. WeChat allows users to pay for products directly on the app, which overseas companies can use to their advantage. By integrating a payment option into your social media, you could alleviate fears and build your customers’ confidence in your brand.

Chinese shoppers also want to be able to order online from overseas vendors with no extra cost or delay. They expect overseas sellers to match Chinese carriers in delivering within a week, so to succeed in China, you’ll need to make sure you have the operational capacity to meet their expectations.

FINAL THOUGHT

Chinese millennials continue to seek high brand value and spend big when they find it. Investing now to build a distinguished brand image with a focus on social engagement to lock in repeat business will set you apart in the market and continually strengthen your brand over time.