Chinese community marketing: Chinese-language ads signal commitment of advertiser

In conducting market research with Chinese immigrants, we have found there exist some parallels across various categories, including airlines, automobiles, telecommunications services, financial services and packaged goods.Exposure to Chinese mediaMost immigrants avail themselves of Chinese media.This phenomenon not only occurs among...

In conducting market research with Chinese immigrants, we have found there exist some parallels across various categories, including airlines, automobiles, telecommunications services, financial services and packaged goods.

Exposure to Chinese media

Most immigrants avail themselves of Chinese media.

This phenomenon not only occurs among those who have English difficulties, but is widespread even among those who have a good command of English.

Exposure to Chinese media provides a sense of comfort and closeness. Many immigrants tend to draw on that as a link to their language and heritage.

They read Chinese newspapers primarily for the news of the Pacific Rim, the Hong Kong and Tokyo stock exchanges, new trends in Hong Kong and fiction series.

Many use the newspaper as a source directory for Chinese restaurants, services and shopping.

Chinese tv programming is watched for the same reasons. There are Chinese movies and entertainment, sitcoms, commercial developments in the community, news from the Far East and lifestyle programs.

The language issue

in advertising

The consensus is that the Chinese language and actors are needed in advertising to the Chinese.

Immigrants want to see commitment and respect from the advertiser when the latter wants their business. They like to see advertisers using language as a means to build trust among them.

Advertising that has simply been translated often does not work because it lacks understanding of the mentality of the Chinese.

Effective and efficient advertising should be based on, first and foremost, knowing the target group – their needs, expectations, values, sentiments and humor.

Customer service

Immigrants feel more comfortable communicating with someone that speaks their language and understands their mindset.

It provides reassurance that their enquiries will be clearly understood, and that they, in turn, will fully comprehend information being given to them.

When a company provides customer service in Chinese, immigrants are likely to feel the company is on their side.

Aspiring to big companies

Chinese immigrants tend to aspire to companies that are perceived as big, meaning companies that have visibility, a long history, a solid reputation, and are popular.

There is a cultural trait that values collective achievement and conformity. In this sense, a frequently advertised company or brand could be perceived as big.

There is a tendency by Chinese immigrants to conform to what their peers are doing with respect to shopping behavior.

Word-of-mouth

Word-of-mouth is a consistently strong motivating factor in the selection of various products and services ranging from personal grooming products to cars to mass merchandise retailers and the service industry.

Networking has become a common practice in exchanging information and establishing contacts.

A company that has established a favorable image among Chinese immigrants would have the advantage of it being reinforced in the community.

The dichotomy of prestige

and savings

In buying products, Chinese immigrants tend to take a pragmatic view on value and prestige.

On the one hand, they continue to spend money on luxurious cars and other items. On the other hand, they diligently save and use coupons on a regular basis on packaged goods.

There are no coupon promotions in Hong Kong, but this new pattern of shopping behavior has caught on like wildfire in the immigrant community.

Chinese immigrants reason that using coupons to get tangible values is the smart thing to do. They do not feel that it is penny-pinching, or a matter of losing face, if found out by their peers.

The concept of warehouse outlets for leather fashion, electronic products, furniture and furs also appeals to them.

This type of outlet is considered to offer good value for the money and a wide selection of merchandise.

On the other hand, many Chinese immigrants frequent designer boutiques for the prestige of known labels.

Juli Manyee Lui is president of Toronto-based Manyee Lui Market Research.