According to the latest statistics from the China Tourism Academy, Chinese tourists made 140 million outbound trips in 2018, up 13.5 percent on the previous year. Furthermore, Chinese tourists spent USD277.3bn in 2018 in overseas territories according to figures released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization. For multinational brands, this presents a huge market opportunity. As such, brands can benefit from better managing their marketing campaigns across Chinese outbound tourists’ travel journey, and coordinating data sharing to maximize a brand’s return on investment (ROI). In this article, we will analyze the Chinese tourists’ journey touchpoints and explore 4 best practices a brand can employ to fully realize their marketing potential.
Chinese tourists’ journey touchpoints.
As far as a brand is concerned, a Chinese tourist’s travel journey begins before their departure, planning and managing the entire trip simply on their own ecosystem of apps: booking flights and hotels products on Ctrip, acquiring tourism captures through joining the WeChat groups organized by WeGuide, a product launched by Ctrip in 2016, paying with WeChat Pay, Alipay, and Union Pay, booking a restaurant on Dianping, and most importantly, preparing a purchasing Wishlist with product photos collected by searching and reviewing shopping tips and KOLs endorsement on social media or e-commerce platform such as Little Red Book. In this way, promoting brand awareness in China and identifying the Chinese tourists’ interests, purchase history and loyalty to which brands are essential for building a marketing campaign carried out during the tourist’s journey abroad. A tourist will meet brands mainly through the in-store staff as well as via social media. As such, it is vital to leverage these touchpoints at all steps along the travel journey to maximize marketing opportunities and chances to acquire data.
1. Collect the right data in the right way!
What many multinational brands fail to do in their marketing strategy is to identify and target their key consumer profiles. Firstly, utilizing WeChat’s extensive ecosystem of users and interactive platforms is an effective means of doing so, and it should be done before a tourist’s departure. Then, capturing effective data during a tourists’ travel journey outside of China is crucial. If done incorrectly, the data may end up obsolete and of no use for re-engaging tourists on WeChat post transaction.
- Acquiring a phone number rather than an email address. Because there are stricter verification mechanisms and a greater chance of making contact
- Encouraging customers to follow a brand’s official WeChat account and/or sign up for promotional offers via WeChat or QR code at the point of sale is another good practice
- By filtering on +86 phone numbers, Chinese online payment methods such as Union Pay, WeChat Pay, and Alipay, and tax-refund forms, overseas brands can easier identify Chinese tourists and better understand their buying habits.
2. Manage the communications at all steps: before, ongoing, and after.
Part of the key to manage a tourist’s travel journey is to coordinate cross border branches of your brand and information flows. It will be easier to bring together data from outside China. This mean that Chinese teams are taking the responsibility to communicate with travelers before and after their return in China while the branches outside China will have to bring together data and send it to the Chinese teams. By empowering the Chinese marketing team with this data, the tourists’ travel journey will be accompanied by a comprehensive and complete marketing campaign. From this information, a brand can gain insight into how to reach their customers and understand their preferences. This can also prevent irrelevant marketing from being sent out to Chinese tourists, who will react more favorably to communication in their own language. It is vital to notify and train target branches on relevant marketing procedures when dealing with Chinese travelers, especially when it comes to promote a brand’s official WeChat account, loyalty programs and other promotional offers.
3. Make sure to follow the right KPI.
In order to reflect this change in marketing strategy, a brand’s KPIs should be adjusted accordingly. In addition, Chinese consumer behavior can be different from the rest of the world, and thus KPIs will vary. For instance, key opinion leaders (KOLs) can be a better measure of return on investment of global purchase patterns concerning a marketing campaign for brands. The result of a brand’s cross border marketing campaign may vary according to brand types and products.
4. Figure out the data regulation conundrum.
In response to the EU’s GDPR, China has begun to tighten their data protection by updating and clarifying existing data protection laws. The first data protection law, in the form of the so-called ‘Cyber Security Law’, came into effect in June 2017, which banned online service providers from selling personal data without the consent of users and requires companies to safeguard personal data. Though the original law was not explicit on how companies should implement the safeguarding mechanisms, clarification was well-received when it was provided in 2019. Brands should coordinate their cross-border data sharing in accordance with relevant laws.
Managing data collection from Chinese tourists along their travel journeys is key to optimizing brand success. Identifying target audiences and interests before departure, engaging consumers at critical touchpoints and empowering Chinese marketing teams by sharing data offer a more streamlined marketing campaign and better interactions with the global Chinese shopper.
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