What brands contemplating China need to know about face.
Maybe you have heard about FACE in China- maybe not. Maybe you have looked on in amusement and amazement as a group or couple of Chinese form a scrum at the cashier in a restaurant. A tussle to see who pays. It looks serious. It is!
In China FACE is important, the loser in the above scenario could end up looking, or believing she looks cheap and mean in the eyes of the others in the group. But this is not really unique to China, or Asia. Most humans do not like to be “made a fool of,” or be made to look foolish, or cheap. It is just that in China, this is amplified many, many times.
Certainly, the need to be flashy and, what we might think is tacky has eased as Chinese society matures. Since we began business back in 2003, we have noticed a gradual mellowing. It is no longer Tai cool la to flaunt ones wealth. However, the need to have the biggest, brightest and latest, to be first still exists in some quarters. China is an extremely competitive society. At all levels.
Face is important for foreign brands in China in many ways.
Some are obvious, some a little less so.
For example, Chinese consumers like to be wooed. Research on top of research, survey after survey has highlighted significant differences in the way consumers in the west and Asia, notably China behave.
Especially when it comes to on-line shopping.
Brands that understand Face in China will use it to build a closer relationship with their consumer. This way they personalise their marketing content. By providing more intimate offers, promotions or asking for feed back, they build the Face of their customer in the eyes of her friends. The reward for brands in increased loyalty or “stickability.” Not to mention heaving a fired up, passionate brand manager working for them!
Face, marketing, tech and social media can be a tricky minefield for brands in China, as this story from Caixin Global reflects. Perhaps one of the reasons why there is a steady strong swing to domestic or local China marketing companies these days. We know the trends and pitfalls better~
The background to this story involves frenzy around a certain Taiwan pop star who decided to build a presence on Mainland social media. Nothing wrong with that you say- true. However, it was his choice of social platform that created the commotion. Instead of using today’s today’s hot platforms, he chose one that is considered to be aimed at “lower level” city dwellers. While most fans rushed to add him, some seemed to feel slighted, or concerned about what their peers might think if they were seen to be using a “lower status” App. As in this translation:
I’m a fan of Jay Chou, but I still feel reluctant to download the app,” one user commented.
Just goes to show, you can never be too careful with Face in China!
You can read the original article, in English, here
To save your Face, and maybe bacon, in China get in touch with Everylne Yu, our China marketing guru and MarTech KOL.
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