Marketing Strategy · Social Media Marketing

What's the best way to market to China and Vietnam?

Karina Dealba-Klein

September 3rd, 2015

I'd like to market my children's apparel & decor site to China & Vietnam. What's the best way to gain followers and build a brand without any immediate leads in either location?

Anonymous

September 3rd, 2015

I have two tips for you:
1) If it is a cool brand expect that someone will copy it - especially in China, I don't know as much about Vietnam - so make sure it is has a copyright.  Even though that may not stop someone, China has been getting better about enforcing copyrights.
2) Find a local partner, an expert in the industry.  The US Commercial Service has a great program called a Gold Key - you go to the country and they arrange meetings with the types of distribution partners you want to meet.  The program itself is pretty inexpensive - only a few thousand dollars - odds are the travel will cost more.  Go to http://www.export.gov/salesandmarketing/eg_main_018195.asp for more.  There is a very comprehensive application and survey for you to complete and the more specific you are, the better potentials they will find for you.  Then you go and have a day or two of speed dating.  Plan an extra day for more in-depth follow ups with best prospects.
3) My wife and I have a consultant in China that may be able to help you there.  We've worked with them for our children's reading glasses.  He is a former Air Force General with a great local partner and staff. 

Feel free to ping me offline if you want more info. 

Anonymous

September 3rd, 2015

You can't use FB, Twitter, etc. to get followers in China; these sites are generally blocked there. You must use WeChat and you must post in Chinese. Whomever writes posts for you must be native mainland Chinese and write in Simplified Chinese. 

WeChat is huge. 600m users. It is more advanced and has more features than FB. You should find someone in China who works with it. 

You need to work with a partner in China. They must be in China, have at least several years of experience, and specialize in your product. It's a very complex market that relies heavily on personal connections.

As for Vietnam; I agree with Eoin: entirely different market. 

EM

September 3rd, 2015

Just for clarity, bundling China and Vietnam is like bundling the United States and Mexico. They're beside each other but they're radically different (languages, culture).

Jiemin Li Entrepreneur and Investor

September 3rd, 2015

Finding a local partner or setting up a local office is the key for success there, as the locals can manage local relations, regulation, market dynamics, etc, much better than foreigners.  And, you might want to build your e-commerce website for the local market, and to hire local marketing company to market your site. Meanwhile, you might want to think about the import/export process and other logistics of doing this business oversea.   

I am from China and has done business there. It is not a small task to market a product oversea. Market is competitive there, but there are some special new policies are offering competitive advantage in Shanghai for the import/export business. We can discuss more when you are ready to go to that market.  

Gaël Reignier Lead Engineer at Rackspace

September 3rd, 2015

Hey Karina, I have a business I know is specialized in marketing to the Chinese market. They have been in business development for some time and are ramping up rapidly. Please get in touch if you'd like to know more. Gaël

Lucie Newcomb Global Marketing & Business Development Leader | Founder| Strategist | Board Member | Advisor | Trainer | Diplopreneur

September 3rd, 2015

First, it would be interesting to discuss the data points that makes you think these would be good markets for you, especially with the exchange rate and purchasing power issues - then there are cultural preferences and tariffs - apparel is often a protected class. 
Beyond that, you'll need a local partner. An economical way to begin that process is the Gold Key service from US Commercial Services. Congrats and great luck!

Dmitry Fedotov CEO @ RG Group

September 4th, 2015

1. Find a wholesale or large retail partner
2. Ship only upon payment in full or confirmed LC
3. Be prepared: if your product will gain popularity it will be locally copied, most likely by your partner.

Ross Meador Business Attorney Specializing in Corporate Law, Contracts, Securities, IP Protection and Licensing

September 4th, 2015

I have spent much of my career helping US companies break into Asian markets and lived in Vietnam for several years. All of the advice above is good.  A trustworthy and well connected local partner can greatly speed your market penetration and the USCS can be very helpful.  Business tours offered by groups such as www.vietgroup.net can also be helpful.  If you can't travel and don't want a partner, you will be handicapped, but you can still use aggressive, local language, internet marketing and try to become known, just as you would to in the US market.