2020 New Communication Strategy in China

The situation of the audience distraction could be one of the major problems for the PR industry right now, and users will become increasingly distracted in the foreseeable future.

Those who make marketing projects in China could have been empathetic to this phenomenon – spending millions on media hype, by creating a campaign on Weibo platform and on influencers, the impression would appear to be more than billions, but on some level, those costs wouldn’t increase much awareness.

Countless communication approaches are coming out nowadays in China. For an example of traditional media, we use ads on office buildings, outdoor billboards, station posters, TV commercials, movie posters, etc. And we have now digital networks such as video advertising, ads on Weibo and WeChat moments, opening ads of all kinds of mobile APP, influencers’ placements, etc. Now, the real issue is, which one to focus on?

No brand would spend that much on communication by using all those above approaches at the same time. During the Double 11 online shopping Festival Period in 2019, the Chinese biggest shopping sale period, Alibaba Group and JD.com each spent more than 1 billion RMB on media advertising within a month, which appears to be a record. Despite this, nor have the two giants managed to achieve full media coverage.

However, that does not mean the media buy being a waste, the answer to this mass could be powerful media strategies. As the users’ attention is increasingly distracted and the diversity of the media forms is on the rise, the right and updated communication strategies that could affect users more efficiently is the key.

The essence of branding is a kind of ‘brainwash”...

Some may hold opinions with disagreements for the negative statement of “brainwash” and it should not exist in the advertising industry. Yet the view of “brainwash” could not be negative all the time as the procedure of branding is to change the inherent understanding from the consumers, generate new cognition and consensus, which tend to be another kind of “brainwash” to some extent.

What is the "brainwash" that we are talking about?

It is to repeat certain information in a certain enclosed and defined space so that this information can form a consensus and change ideas in that space.

Before the Internet era, branding (brainwash), is relatively easy, a brand used to purchase television and print advertising as online networks have not been created. The television and papers are the only way the audience could get information and they could be easily influenced when they watch and read something repeatedly on traditional media.

However, at this age, everything is changing rapidly. The Internet is international, free, open and borderless, the users are floating around worldwide. The concept of enclosed space does not exist in cyberspace.

Is it still possible to achieve branding by advertising nowadays? The answer could be ‘Yes’ if we can redefine the boundary of an enclosed space.

Under the premise of an open environment, audiences could receive information from all kinds of sources, they are browsing around in the networks and applications.

The brand information could cover 100 million people while one person sees it only once in the same place. Moreover, users are inattentive and distracted, leading to the conclusion that the media coverage of the information repetition does not work in branding anymore.

To solve this dilemma, we need to renew our awareness of the existence of enclosed space. The Internet is unlimited, but humanity has limitations. In an open space, everyone has a boundary for cognitions and information that he or she has gained. This boundary is invisible and hard to breakthrough. This is the enclosed space in the present day. From individuals to a group, the enclosed space has been formed. What the brand really needs to think about is how to carry out brand communication in that enclosed space and change users' cognitions.

Moments of WeChat is a core social place for contemporary urban people in China. it is our selected enclosed space. We speak freely on WeChat, share interesting stuff, chat with friends and take a glance at the others, and your friends do actually the same kind of things as you do. In this space, opinions come across and users get influenced by each other. Forwarding the articles that one likes, his or her friends would also take a look and forward the post. The opinions could change to be similar and finally reach a consensus.

After adding, following, deleting, shielding an unfollowing, it’s us who decide what our moments are presenting to meet our satisfaction, keep what we agree and get rid of those people we do not agree with. And then we use moments as our boundary to judge, we tend to treat things happening in the moments as common events happening worldwide, our cognitions are limited inside these “Moments”.

Moments of WeChat is a typical example if you could understand this concept, your life, your range of activities are carefully selected by yourself, your choices have formed this closed space for yourself without consciousness. Therefore, in this open and complex environment, enclosed space can still be determined and used to complete the communication process, it’s just more complicated than before.

In such circumstances, how to avoid a waste of media buy could be a vital issue for branding. What kind of communication strategies could raise up branding efficiency? This should be taken into consideration.

So, our strategy is to make use of the invisible enclosed space to form a dome: we should convey a certain message to a certain group, with different forms of contents, repeat those messages until the information covers completely this group of people in different scenes.

How to define a certain group of people?

We all know that the target audiences are important, yet most of the time the audience targeting work is not completed before the marketing plan carrying out, and brands have no choice but to waste budget on single repetition on media. In terms of media buy strategy, old fashioned strategies always seem impressive: contracting for bus stops all over the city, buying focus ads in big cities, buying movie theater lines, etc. However, these strategies are inefficient or even ineffective.

Brands would take the “seem to be” influence as the results. But the truth for consumers is totally different: they might be surprised at first glance. However, there would be different kinds of ads all the time so these ads are not special at all. Therefore, simple repetition is meaningless.

We suggest combining different types of media and try several media approaches to construct this multi-dimension branding coverage.

How to define a single message?

We need to clarify communication contents clearly from the beginning. For example, what is the feature of our products, cost-effective, easy to use, quality, safety, etc? To get clear on the core message of communication, we must declare the core ideas that we want to deliver and check out the messages on all mediums to see if there would be information deviation. That way, a different type of media can form a cumulative perception of overlapping.

We suggest that all branding processes should be formulated as branding campaigns: concentrate on one branding topic and use a diversity of resources among various media and networks in order to form a superposition effect in a short period of time.

We need to coordinate between contents and media – the media environment of platforms should be taken into discussion. We should present the same information differently in every single media environment. If we want to make the campaign about green and ecology, we would set outsider billboards to inform, we would arrange Public service ads on TV and video platforms for behavioral education, we would also tell stories on Weibo topic via influencers and media, advertising in moments of interaction, etc. Different media platforms perform their functions in different scenes, they form synergy and finally reach the goal.

How to define repetition coverage?

We used to treat repetition as the major way to transfer ideas. The “repetition” of marketing promotion in the past era that we knew is the same content repetition, make people watch and memorize it. This kind of repetition coverage becomes obsolete nowadays, and basically do not have any influence, for there are too many media and people hardly get the chance to see the same content more than once.

We are talking about two repetitions, to repeat the same message, and to communicate this message repeatedly to the same group of a targeted audience. Always communicating within the same group and all mediums should follow closely; ensuring at least 80% of coincidence degree; ensuring that one should be covered by more than two kinds of mediums.

Repeating the topic, not the contents. Comparing with those boring content repetition, this strategy could offer consumers a better experience.

Different brands, stages, and campaigns could deliver different ideas.

To learn specific purposes and create communication operations, you can contact us at social@beinagency.com to have a consultation.

Several already notice the law of branding communication, similar to Pareto’s principle which is the 80/20 rule: 80% of the brands target 20% of the population, that is to say, the majority of brands create their products only for a small number of consumers, they could be those highly educated youth and middle class living in one-tier cities in China such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and some other fast-developing cities.

They have the ability of strong consumptions and fast-learning about the newest fashion trends. They are the targets of almost all brands. Similarities could be found easily in their lives, and we could formulate media strategies for branding accordingly. First of all, most of them live in the urban areas of those core cities. They would watch movies, take the subway as a main method of transportation. They're always online,sharing and chatting on WeChat and Moments. Those hot topics on Weibo could get them interested in and most of them like to watch popular shows and online drama series to get chatting topics. They follow influencers on Weibo, WeChat, Little RED Book and TikTok. Therefore, in terms of the media strategy, we could combine offline with online, combine media buy with influencers, to form a dome to have them all covered.

We should add ads to topics and creative content. Various forms of information with a core of branding appears in a short time that could deeply influence users, and efficiency for branding must be greatly improved.

- Be Influential Agency at Shanghai, China

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