One Belt, One Road: With Technology, It’s Never Been Easier to Build a Global Brand
The Chinese government’s $4 trillion USD global expansion program, One Belt One Road, is opening up trading routes not seen since the early days of the Silk Road. With such a massive infrastructural investment, it goes without saying that Chinese brands are expected to follow the lead and take advantage of this amazing trading platform.
Going global for any brand leaving its home turf is tough, but it is especially challenging for Chinese brands who have grown accustomed to their own local market and the continuing expansion of China’s growing middle class. And it’s not just challenges in different distribution models, the entire global social media landscape is completely different. Western consumers often learn, interact with, and purchase their products differently than their Chinese counterparts.
Competition is fierce abroad for Chinese brands in markets where Western consumers are less likely to switch brand. It’s no wonder Chinese brands often enter foreign markets as the low-cost price alternative. A cost brand entry strategy also plays to Chinese brands’ long history of controlling the manufacturing chain, but in the long run this isn’t profitable.
Chinese brands can always decentralize their marketing and leave it to local distributors as many do, but what results is often inconsistency of products and services. Thanks to travel, information and technology, brands are now more global than ever, making consistency vital for business growth and success. Starbucks customers in Beijing will now expect the same cappuccino in Brussels, and a Huawei P10 should make you feel cool, whether you’re in Spain or Shandong.
For Chinese brands to remain consistent, they have to work harder to control their brands’ image, message, price and promotions. The good news is that technology allows for automation and reporting visibility that aids in control, all happening from a central source. Real time data from CRM platforms and web traffic make it a viable solution to ensure supply chain and customer connections are visible from anywhere. Agencies like Wunderman help brands like Adidas run 7000 campaigns for 8 brands across 36 different markets, all through a single operating center.
Global social media can also be centrally created, monitored and measured. Off-shore production hubs can create multiple low-cost content for hundreds of alternatives in different languages. Wunderman currently operates Dell’s consistent global marketing efforts creating over 50,000 annual projects across 70 markets. Centralization not only helps consistency, it can also reduce marketing costs. Dell’s production costs have been reduced by 25% year on year for the past 6 years.
In summary, marketing technology has really made the dream of One Belt One Road a much closer reality, enabling brands to grow quickly and with consistency. But there’s still no substitute for local market expertise, and while market automation helps, it doesn’t solve everything. Fortunately, WPP’s offices in 113 countries are well placed to help Chinese brands connect with the local consumer in the right way.