Rachel Alexander12 Aug 2018

Chinese Advertising

Marketing to Chinese visitors & residents in NZ

By Rachel Alexander, Chinese marketing agency owner based in Christchurch.

There are many ways to reach Chinese – including those residing in New Zealand, tourists and those living in China.

A typical pattern of Chinese behaviour around advertising is:

  1.  see an ad on WeChat e.g. WeChat moments (because they spend 2.5 hours a day on WeChat on average, with 30% spending 3.5 hours a day)
  2. visit the company’s official (or unofficial) WeChat account
  3. get in touch in Mandarin via the contact section of the WeChat account. It is common to have “questions answered between 9am and 5pm” to indicate it’s a work situation and set the expectation that queries will not be answered in the evening.

WeChat is certainly not your only option, though I would advocate: “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. I will outline other options soon.

Chinese are accustomed to quick responses on WeChat; it’s the Chinese standard communication tool, much the way we use email. Therefore, your WeChat account should be monitored – especially regularly around the time any advertising is done.

Problem #1: I don’t have any Chinese staff.

Never fear; the Alexanders team can monitor this for you around the campaign time and translate any enquiries, bridging the gap until you get to the point that warrants having more regular Chinese speakers on your team. Or if you have a Chinese colleague, we can help to set up a WeChat account and they can monitor the responses.

Problem #2: I don’t have a WeChat account.

  1. A good way to start is to advertise on someone else’s WeChat account (there are several kiwi accounts that command a large local following), driving enquiries not to your WeChat page but to your website.
  2. Set up an unofficial account. This is easier and a short-term option, but it is harder to find you online. Also Chinese are skeptical of fake accounts, so it is not ideal.
  3. Set up an official account. Ideal, but takes more effort and there’s more red tape than Western social media.
  4. Set yourself up with a local WeChat personal profile (individual).
  5. Place ads on some of the mainstream digital news channels (there’s also an inbound one for people looking to travel to NZ) and use the QR code of your personal profile.
  6. Choose another option (see below)

P.S Alexanders Digital Marketing can help with all options above.

Problem #3: I don’t know how to measure effectiveness.

Chinese measure success largely by the number of people who make contact via WeChat after the ads. This allows you to check which kinds of offers work best. If you are not that far along to be able to get WeChat enquiries, then you can measure traffic to your website. However, bear in mind that Google Analytics does not always track well all traffic from TenCent group (WeChat owners) or other Chinese sources. And being different giants, they have different algorithms and methods of measuring actions. Don’t let that put you off though – you can still have a specific landing page, or create a unique form, or count product sales. And it’s good to make a start rather than procrastinate and not do anything.

Problem #4: My business is a scale operation and I can’t answer every question.

Heard of chat bots? Automated answering is very much a part of WeChat. You can create automated answers to a huge range of questions, providing instant response to your most frequently-asked questions around hours, address, shipping.

WeChat is not the only way to reach Chinese.

Other methods depend on where the Chinese you are aiming to reach are located.

To reach Chinese in NZ, you can do Moments campaigns on WeChat if you have an official account; there are digital news sites that are well followed that you can do banner ads and advertorial/videos on, WeChat accounts reaching mums, investors, property websites for Chinese Kiwis, NZ-based Chinese radio and TV (skewed to an older audience) or print ads in local Chinese publications and national magazines (in Chch, Auckland or NZ-wide).

To reach Chinese planning to travel or move to NZ, you can place content on two well known accounts. You can do this even without a WeChat official account.

In China, you can do include pay per click ads on Baidu – the major search engine, Moments ads on WeChat, paid promo’s on Weibo (like Twitter), coupons on AliDiscover (if you have Alipay set up) among other things,

Q: should I translate my website into Chinese?

A: the level of English is higher among younger Chinese and lower among older Chinese. Pre-Covid, I had a lot of Chinese staying in my AirBnB and few are fluent – typically there is only one person in the group with reasonable English and sometimes it has been the 9 year old child that is the translator! So if you are targeting NZ-based Chinese, having some translated content on your site is useful.

However if you are targeting visitors coming from China, Baidu does not really show sites – they are very slow to download and Google is banned over there. Baidu favours Mandarin sites hosted in China. You have to have a registered business in China to get a .cn domain, so the popular choice is to have a com, Chinese-only site hosted in Hong Kong. However, that alone will not make you rank in Baidu. You will have to do some search engine optimisation. Yes it’s a long-term game.
P.S. Alexanders can help with translation, building, hosting and search optimisation for Hong Kong Mandarin sites.

Reaching Christchurch Chinese residents

There are both digital and print options.

1. Advertise in free Chinese print magazines for locals.

To be honest, I’ve had better success on the digital options. But there are magazines that are free to take at the main Chinese supermarket. One is produced monthly and is like a 30-page mini magazine in four colour. The other two are light on content but good for reaching 50-60 year olds and seniors. Ad campaigns cost under $1k for media placement (plus time to design, translate, and book ad).

2. Post on popular digital forums

Younger and middle-aged Chinese follow Christchurch-based WeChat accounts and regularly read some news channels so you could do paid posts. There are popular sub-accounts with separate themes. This entails supplying 4-9 photos and up to 500 words (only the first para shows, and you click to read more). Most new Chinese businesses use these channels to get visibility and raise awareness. The plus is that you don’t need to worry about graphic design (we can help you to translate).

There is another Christchurch Wechat account popular among mums – there is a weekly What’s going on in the weekend post for Mums showing where they can take their kids, current Christchurch activities.

Reaching Chinese visitors for tourism operators

There are two popular ways of posting content on forums followed by people wanting to move to, travel to or live in NZ. These have a big following and get good results.

Reaching Auckland Chinese residents

Due to the fact that the majority of Chinese in NZ are based in Auckland, some of the national Chinese media will predominately reach an Auckland Chinese audience. Census stats show that residents are largely clustered in two main areas of Auckland.

Clients report a stronger response from digital media. There is a large Chinese newspaper with digital advertising options, and a major digital media that reaches 80% of all Chinese in New Zealand.

You could do a small campaign on one of these for $1-2k (plus design costs) and get multiple placements on both platforms for $4-5k.

Naturally there are specific WeChat accounts geared to Aucklanders enabling options to target based on group themes e.g. parents. A go-to for me is ten WeChat accounts that target students, business, investment, Mums, sales etc. Majority are Auckland followers. If you don’t yet have your own WeChat account, you can post on another that has a large following.

More sophisticated targeting options open up when you do a Moments Campaign with an official WeChat account: you can specify age, gender, demographic targeting and interest groups. Typically campaigns such as this require a $5k plus spend.

AliDiscover promotions are easy to set up if you have AliPay. People with AliPay on their phones will see geo-targetted offers near them.

There are a range of local Chinese newspapers, and a real-estate specific publication. I’ve been told by a Mike Greer agent that Chinese like square, symmetrical houses with no doors opposite each other! TenCent (WeChat owners) prohibit advertising of foreign real estate, but real estate agents can still have a WeChat account. There is also a website for NZ property targeting Chinese.

The Chinese radio & TV station has an older skew – not “hip” for younger Chinese, according to our Chinese 30-something writer.

Ready to roll but not sure where to start? We are happy to co-ordinate a media plan and translate or design content based on elements provided by you.

If you’re interested in a more full low-down, I provide a whitepaper giving a complete low down on recommended steps for NZ operators to market to Chinese visitors or residents. If you’d like a copy (NZ$35), please let me know via the Alexanders Digital Marketing contact form .

By the way, I do travel to Auckland regularly and there’s always Zoom or Teams if you want some pointers on reaching Chinese for your business. Have I missed anything above or have you found anything effective for your business? I welcome your input.

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