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What you’re doing wrong digital branding in China? | Observer Intelligence
Welcome! Friday - Apr 19, 2019

What you’re doing wrong digital branding in China?

What you're doing wrong digital branding in China-observerintelligence-Kevin Gentle

Observer Solutions recently invited Kevin Gentle, Digital Strategy Director of Labbrand, to join a discussion on how to build a successful digital strategy in China. Key takeaways and the full interview are below

Key Takeaways
Building an effective digital strategy takes much more than having a presence on China’s mainstream digital channels like Weibo and SEO on Baidu. Digital is only useful when brands know how to profile audiences correctly and integrate digital into their consumer journey. In order to do that, it is important for brands to look deeper at consumers’ “culture mind set”- for example, the challenges they face in their daily life, their frustrations faced by the gap between their dreams and reality, instead of only focusing on the surface level factors like age and income. In addition, relevant and consistent content is the key to digital branding. If the content is right, brands should not pay too much to attract and retain their audience.


Full Interview

Observer Solutions: Whenever we talk about digital branding or marketing, people most likely will think about social media marketing, search engine advertisements. Technology changes so fast – especially in China. What do you think are the key components to consider today to build a successful digital strategy in China?

Kevin Gentle: Having a digital presence doesn’t mean you have a digital strategy. Whatever tool it is. you always need to integrate it into your consumer journey. How do you view your brand? How do you profile your audience? If you can’t answer these questions, you can’t really effectively use digital tools.

Observer Solutions: How do you profile your audience?

Kevin Gentle: Look at “culture mind set” instead of factors like age, income …Instead of looking at how much they make, look at what are their challenges, frustrations, and despairs. How much money they make is irrelevant to them, because how much money they make can not bring them any value, solve their issues.For example, for luxury cars – their audience has disposable income, but because of high import tax they are challenged (to purchase luxury cars at a reasonable price)…their frustration is the ability to access a certain kind of lifestyle. Especially for young consumers, brands need to look into the their desperation fused by the fast changing society and the gap between their dreams and reality.

Observer Solutions: What’s the difference between Weibo and WeChat?

Kevin Gentle: Stop thinking WeChat as a marketing tool. WeChat is not a marketing channel but a channel for customer service, customer relations and trust building. Weibo is open, searchable and thus better for marketing – it is massive and fast. Brands should use WeChat carefully. The content needs to be consistent and relevant.

Observer Solutions: What do you think Western brands are missing now in terms of managing their brand and relationship with customers in digital China? Are there some common mistakes?

Kevin Gentle: Western brands often lack the understanding and sophistication of the local digital landscape and behavior in China. These brands should stop thinking about local technology in a Western frame. For example, during Alibaba’s IPO when the West asked “what is Alibaba?” The common answer in the Western media was Alibaba is “China’s version of Amazon”. I think this is an insult to Alibaba.

Observer Solutions: Let’s talk about e-commerce a little bit. One of the biggest challenges for e-commerce is generating traffic and retaining customers. What suggestions do you have for attracting and retaining your customers using digital tools/strategies?

Kevin Gentle: You shouldn’t pay too much to get people to visit your store. Quality content and consistency is the key to leverage digital tools. For digital marketing, If the content is right, you should not pay too much.


About Kevin Gentle
Kevin is the head of Labbrand’s digital strategy department. Highly passionate about the Chinese digital scene and about Chinese customer behavior, he uses a cross disciplinary approach encompassing strategy, customer insights and technology to create innovative digital journeys for clients from all industries. In his 5 years of experience in China, Kevin has managed brand strategy and digital projects for clients such as Marriott, Logitech, Sephora, Grand Optical and Four Seasons. He is regularly quoted in business and trade publications and is a frequent guest at conferences about marketing/digital in China. 

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