As a business growth expert with a strong focus on China, the most common question I’m asked by business owners is: how do I capitalise on the outstanding (and growing) opportunity that Chinese visitors represent?
It’s easier than you think to tap into the Chinese market. And no, you don’t need to be fluent in Mandarin to do it (although learning basic greetings is a fantastic start).
Tips to make your business more China-friendly
As part of a recent 3-hour workshop series I presented in conjunction with the Geelong Chamber of Commerce titled Increasing Sales to Chinese Customers, I outlined some mind-blowing stats that would get any red-blooded business owner’s heart racing:
- Chinese visitors are currently the largest tourism group visiting Australia, and specifically to the Great Ocean Road.
- In the last 12 months, 1.4 million Chinese tourists visited Australia; more than 2 million annually are expected in the next few years.
- Over the next 10 years, Chinese visitors to Australia are expected to grow by 11.9 percent each year.
- In 2026-27, Chinese tourism to Victoria is forecast to be worth $7 billion and contribute 39% to total expenditure in Victoria.
So it’s well worth investing time in making your business more China-friendly.
Your first priority
The key to increasing sales to Chinese customers is to understand their needs and preferences. If you and your team can gain an appreciation of China’s rich history and culture, you’ll give yourself the best chance to more deeply engage with Chinese visitors.
Tip: Get your hands on a cheat-sheet of basic greetings and ‘cultural do’s and dont’s’ so you can help your staff make Chinese guests feel welcomed and valued. Visit the G’Day Friends website for handy hints.
What Chinese visitors like to see and do – and more importantly, what they want to buy
Chinese visitors to Australia are hungry for authentic Australian experiences. They also want to enjoy local fresh produce, and crave unique items they can show friends back home. Anything hand-made or bespoke – such as art and clothes – is highly valued. They are looking for any opportunity to showcase their Aussie adventure back home via social media, so photo opportunities are a must.
Tip: Think of a product or service you can develop that fits this bill, give it a ‘fair dinkum’ Aussie name that conveys it’s authenticity and uniqueness, and then promote it to potential Chinese visitors.
How Chinese customer buying behaviour differs from Australian consumers
Chinese customers use specific online and social media tools such as WeChat to research purchases and experiences before they buy. They also have specific preferences for how they want to buy and how they like to pay that is quite different to local customers, and that can be a barrier to purchases if you’re not prepared.
Tip: Get your head around the WeChat phenomenon and ensure your payment system can accommodate it.
How to communicate with Chinese customers (without learning Mandarin)
While it’s not critical to speak Mandarin, there are some basic Chinese customer communication essentials that can transform you into a ‘China-friendly’ business:
- Social media. WeChat has over 1 billion monthly active users. Make it easy for Chinese customers to promote your business on WeChat.
- QR Codes. While not massive in Australia, the Chinese love QR codes. They are a great tool to allow Aussie businesses to convey important information – everything from beach safety tips to menu specials – in a very convenient way that Chinese visitors are comfortable with.
- Basic ‘Simplified Mandarin’. To elevate your business above competitors, get your frontline staff to learn some very basic greetings and directions; Chinese customers will feel respected, and will rave about you to their network.
Tip: To truly elevate your business as ‘China-friendly’, and to wow Chinese guests so they promote your business to friends back home, get basic greeting and culture training for your staff (visit www.iabs.edu.au for affordable training options).
Tip: Investigate getting a G’Day Friends QR code welcome pack to promote your business as China-friendly, and to help your Chinese customers do business with you (www.business.gdayfriends.com)
Becoming ‘China-friendly’ is easier than you think – and as the numbers show, it’s well worth the effort.
Get Bill’s slides from his 3 hour ‘Increasing Sales to Chinese Customers’ workshop, as well as a comprehensive learners guide and free QR Code Starter Kit valued at $100 – email the Institute of Advanced Business Studies to claim your freebies.
For more information about business events in the Geelong region, visit the Geelong Chamber of Commerce website: www.geelongchamber.com.au.