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A Groovy Biz Plan is Not Enough to Make it in China…

by on August 7, 2010


Americans need to be aware of China's social media regulations when creating online marketing strategies. (Image courtesy of Indiana University)


Want to sell your wares in China? Want to implement an SEO strategy to publicize your updated incarnation of, let’s say, Spanx? Not so fast.

According to an article released by Google, “The Chinese government operates the world’s most extensive system of Web monitoring and filtering…” At the same time, an estimated 384 million Chinese people are online. Where is the middle ground for your business? How do you reach our Chinese counterparts who also want their stomachs to look flat? China’s doors are agape, but won’t ingest just any person with a light bulb moment.

“China’s economy during the past 30 years has changed from a centrally planned system that was largely closed to international trade to a more market-oriented economy that has a rapidly growing private sector and is a major player in the global economy,” mentions the website of the CIA. “China in 2009 stood as the second-largest economy in the world…” 

China is a monstrous economic power, yet that certainly does not equate to a free for all for entrepreneurs…You must market within mandated limits. 

Due to the cultural and governmental laws that exist when entering in to the Chinese market, it would be wise for an American business person to engage in some vital due diligence prior to thinking the Chinese government and citizens will fully embrace your new under garment. Yes, researching and reaching your target audience is key; therefore, a growing number of individuals and businesses will work with a US company, acting as an instructor, or conduit, to the Chinese marketplace. According to a Forbes article, “…connecting the dots between American businesses and their Chinese counterparts is a considerable feat.” 

After entering in to the business market, how do you then engage the public online? How will you let people know and see just how flat their stomachs can be?

China's most popular social networking sites. Photo courtesy of


Reaching Chinese netizens online is a crucial component of marketing for both national and international companies. “52% of Chinese businesses have set aside a proportion of marketing budget for social networking activities, out of which 65% are using social media to manage and connect with customer groups,” says one online marketing site. An Adage article explains how “China has evolved from a model featuring innovators (2.5%), early adopters (13.5%) and the majority (84%) to a model composed of initiators (26%), commenters (29%) and gawkers (45%). This means you, the next Spanx-like creator, must get people talking about your product. And keep in mind that Chinese business people and consumers value trust and recommendations from friends and family.

And where can you find Chinese netizens chatting online? According to Ignite Social Media:

It is on these platforms that you want your product spoken about. 

A June 10, 2010 case study focusing on marketing in China online suggests that businesses should, “Create group on major social networking site like,,…Create account on sina and promote the account. Supplementary, create accounts on second-tier microblog websites like sohu microblog, 163 microblog.”

Also, make sure your products can be found on China’s online search engines:





According to the June 10, 2010 study, “Search engine is the other major platform buyers in China use to research and find suppliers. Comparatively, baidu will bring more traffic and the conversion rate for google PPC is normally decent, even though the traffic volume is not on a par with Baidu.” 

Companies such as advertise services to help businesses rank high on China’s search engines. 

While not impossible to launch your product in China, and with potential for massive monetary gain, one must adhere to the proper steps and commensurate guidelines.


From → China

  1. Good point about marketing to China. Because of its very attractive consumer market, it’s easy to forget that you are still operating inside a communist country.

  2. I saw your point with writing this post and you tackled a very important and relevant topic around China – how to actually start a business and sell in China. Clearly there are many people who are willing to help you with that process and your post seemed to essentially focus on three core recommendations: firstly to engage an expert to help you enter the market, secondly to create profiles on popular sites and thirdly to make sure your product or service is search engine friendly. To your core point about how a good business plan is not enough to enter China – do you feel that your list of three actions take into account all the missing pieces that any business would need to get in order to be successful in China? If not, how else might you be able to take a higher level view of this topic in your post. One thought could be to try and dig deeper into the types of advice that an expert might provide on how you can expand your business to China. Another may be to focus on some examples of businesses that have done this well. Without those details, this post felt a bit incomplete on the topic that you framed at the start. (4)

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