As we head into year three of a global pandemic, the market shifts that started as a temporary solution have come to be the norm in the B2B world. In China, as in the west, tech continues to advance by leaps and bounds, and everything points to a digital world where virtually any business will be able — perhaps required to — exist primarily online.
To help you navigate 2022 in the B2B world, we’ve compiled the top 6 B2B marketing and PR trends in China for 2022 and beyond and how we believe they will impact what businesses need to do to enter and stay in this demanding market.
Trend 1: Digital acceleration
With in-person events still facing uncertainty in 2022 in China and around the globe, B2B brands will invest more in virtual events, live streams, and digital marketing channels to reach their customers.
Now more than ever, online content has become the name of the game: Social media, blogs, short videos, webinars, and more. According to Accenture, around 88% of B2B deals start online, and 75% of B2B brands use social media as their main promotional channel. Moreover, 80% of B2B companies in China said that digital transformation is in their internal discussion.
Trend 2: Content marketing
With the advent of news aggregator platforms and various social media channels in China, the relationships between mainstream media, KOLs, and users are often intertwined. Everyone can be a media of their own and build followers, which creates unlimited potential for B2B brands to inform, educate and persuade their target prospects.
Content marketing is now the driving force of every B2B strategy in China and B2B brands need to stay ahead of the marketing curve. To maximize content marketing efforts, however, B2B brands will need to adopt a more systemized approach to avoid shooting in the dark; this can be done by mapping a clear content positioning, building content guidelines, and creating an editorial calendar. Part of your systemized approach must include leveraging data and social media listening as ways to optimize your content.
Trend 3: Mobile-first strategy
Mobile optimization is no longer an option in China. Localizing websites for web browsers was the first thing many B2B brands would do when they first start in China. However, as user online behaviors changed to mobile, B2B brands now need to rethink their strategy.
Although a desktop version of your website is still important for showing customer case studies and company news, a mobile-first approach is a more effective channel to reach and engage with customers, provide instant customer support (via WeCom), and grow your private traffic. Another key difference from the west? Email is no longer a dominant marketing tool in China as customers are now used to getting information on mobile.
If you are still planning your China marketing, consider prioritizing your mobile site experience and using WeChat to reach your audience more effectively.
Trend 4: The importance of PR
One of the key trends most B2B brands realize in China is the importance of public relations. Public relations encompass many aspects of brand communications, from messaging strategy to thought leadership programs to media/influencer relations.
While the traditional role of PR used to focus primarily on media relations, the value of PR as a strategic consultant on brands' messages has been constantly proven. As a global brand, your PR partners can prevent and handle your PR crisis, shape your local narrative, and sharpen your communications strategy across earned, owned, and shared media.
Whether you have your own in-house PR team or working with a PR agency in China, it’s time to put them on the front seat along with your marketing team to drive value for your business.
Trend 5: Livestreaming
As the pandemic continues to evolve, more B2B brands have pivoted to live stream in the past 12 months. According to Vhall, 72% of B2B brands in China will increase their marketing budget for live streaming in 2022.
From product launch and tech day to media interviews and press conferences, B2B brands can use live streams to engage with different stakeholders for various purposes. While offline event scale is limited by space, online settings give greater flexibility to host events for nearly unlimited audiences.
In terms of live stream channels, WeChat is the dominant platform for B2B brands. On WeChat live stream, speakers can interact with the users and provide instant feedback. Brands can also leverage the use of live stream technology such as 3D virtual environments and user-engagement activities to provide immersive experiences. These technology providers are part of WeChat’s ecosystem and can be seamlessly integrated with WeChat livestreams.
Trend 6: Go “All in” for China
Recent signs show that more global businesses will go “all-in” for the China market. Examples include that BMW group recently hosted its annual media briefing with a messaging theme “Home in China,” addressing its “China-first” principle; it also highlights that BMW will continue to strengthen the tie with Chinese partners to achieve win-win situations. In addition, Tesla, whose CEO claimed to dissolve its PR department globally, has established a dedicated China in-house PR team to handle its local PR and brand communications this year.
If localization is the first step for global brands to get their foot in the door, then going “all-in” will be the key to achieving long-term business and marketing success in China, which should be reflected from the company strategy level down to its brand communications strategy.
Tribe China is your trusted PR & marketing partner in China
Whether you’re ready to test the waters or dive headfirst into the China market, you’ll need a team of experts to be your eyes and ears on the ground.
At Tribe China, we work with new and established businesses alike — and guide them in the complex world of business & media relations in China. Book a consultation now to learn about how we can help you break into the Chinese market.