Tips to jump-start your marketing translation strategy for China


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marketing translation strategy for ChinaHave you set your sights on China as part of your marketing translation strategy? It’s hard to deny the potential that exists in this massive market. For one thing, China leads the globe in mobile Internet usage. Over 80 percent of the world’s total Internet users hail from this mobile-forward country.

Let’s hear from some experts on how a global marketing professional can best reach Chinese audiences.

It’s a crowded marketplace, so stand out

Reaching customers in China is easy, but sticking out in the market is not. To increase your chances of setting your brand apart with your marketing translation efforts, be sensitive to market preferences.

According to Wen Li, Web Developer for Coquí Content Marketing, “The Chinese like activities where they can receive gifts or points that can be used to redeem gifts. They like to get products via activities so that they don’t need to spend money on them.

“They also enjoy online shopping. Nowadays, many people like shopping online better than going to a shop because there are many choices and lower prices.

“They like big brands, even if some products from small brands are better quality and a lower price. And finally, they speak or text by using popular ‘Internet words.’ So, don’t forget to use some ‘new words’ when directing your marketing message to young people.”

Avoid a catch-all marketing approach

The worst thing you can do when devising your marketing translation strategy is to assume all markets will respond to a single campaign, message or approach. Create a positive impact by crafting a tailored marketing campaign.

“Marketing in China is characterized by upbeat, auspicious slogans and bright, cheerful, cute designs,” says Jonathan Poston, founder of

“However, it’s important not to stereotype. China is a large country where a wide range of subcultures, demographics, economic classes, etc. exist. Applying a catch-all marketing strategy is a recipe for failure. Study your specific target and create personas to execute more precise marketing tactics.”

Speak to the Chinese on their preferred platforms

Phillip Chang, co-founder and VP/general manager of Greater China for Ayla Networks, reminds us that it is critical to understand and use the business tools and style of communication that is popular in China. One such preferred platform is WeChat.

“WeChat holds a status in China that is unlike anything comparable in the U.S.,” says Chang. “It’s like email, messaging, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn all rolled into one. It’s not uncommon for people in China to spend the majority of their working hours or to conduct primary business communication using WeChat.”

It is also important when crafting a marketing translation strategy to become familiar with the local marketing and promotion tools that the Chinese use.

According to Chang, “Just as it’s important to communicate with Chinese business partners using the tools and methods they prefer, it’s also vital that you promote your products and services using locally appropriate marketing tools. WeChat Public Accounts and ads in local media are the two best ways to promote your offerings.”

Respect Chinese sensibilities

In China, it’s extra important to prove your worth to your audiences before blasting them with your messaging.

“Money/cost is a huge thing to the Chinese,” says Brendan Gibson, co-founder and president of relations of New Life ESL. “The average Chinese household saves about 60 percent of their income. They’re incredibly smart with how they manage their money.”

He continues, “Be extremely cautious with how you present your product and make sure they’re interested before telling them your price. If you jump too soon, then they won’t be afraid to move on.”

Relationships and positive experiences also go a long way with the Chinese. Be sure your marketing translation strategy aligns with this.

“Creating relationships in China is the biggest aspect of doing business in China,” says Gibson. “Sure, people will find you online. But Chinese business highly revolves around Guanxi (relationships). Word of mouth goes extremely far here, and if people are happy with you then they’ll be sure to tell everyone they know.”

Courtney Huber, M.S.
Courtney is a professional writer and senior communications specialist at Sajan, a leading global language translation services provider. Sign up for Sajan blog posts to receive new translation best practices every week.


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