Contrary to much of the current conventional wisdom on marketing to Chinese interests, the “clean and green” sales pitch isn’t enough to cut it anymore, according to a brand strategy consultant with 12 years of experience in the country.
The Silk Initiative managing director, Andrew Kuiler, is one of China’s foremost consumer food and beverage experts and he told the AccessChina’16 conference in Shanghai last week that a variety of countries could sell that image.
“It’s easily ownable, like an airline saying it’s safe – shouldn’t they all be,” he said.
Andrew said Chinese people loved functional products and would ask why something was better than something else, especially mothers looking for evolved products for their only child, to perfect their intellect, even in the snack food market.
“If you walk into a conventional store, have a look at the explosion in probiotics. Products are now being developed for occasions throughout the day,” he said.
When he worked on introducing Tim Tams to the Chinese market, the question he asked was, what is it about them that would give China something it didn’t already have.
He said it was important not just to ship a product that worked well in Australia, once again citing the Tim Tam experience, which were found to be too rich in taste for the Chinese palate.
Andrew believed an Australian point of difference could be its bush tucker ingredients, quandong, lemon myrtle and the like.
“They want strong brand stories too,” he said. “How we get our food in Australia and how we process it – we can sell that well through brand stories.”
As far as connecting the Chinese audience with the farm story, Andrew said online was the way to go, giving an example of a West Australian lobster client.
“We put together a video of a Chinese couple picking their lobster out fresh from the boat and then walking along the sand to the restaurant to have it cooked.
“In our campaign we tied that in with ordering the lobster online and having it shipped to their door the next day.
“It was a ‘call to action, continue your holiday experience’ idea.”
He also said Australians underestimated the value of the science they had invested in, as a sales tool.