Revenue in the Chinese soda market amounts to US$ 36,534m in 2020. The market is expected to grow annually by 7.2%. statista China has one of the biggest bottled water markets in the world, and it is expected to reach 49 million tons of total annual consumption by the end of 2020. According to a survey, Sprite, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi are the most popular soda but there are also many opportunities for smaller brands. Which are the steps to take?
Overview of the Soft drinks Market in China
In China, Sodas are beyond the drunkest soft drinks by consumers. Because the whole production in volume is swelling, the soft drinks market covers a large range of varieties. It goes without saying that concerning manufacturing but also sales, the leaders of the market such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co, Wahaha have a significant market share. The soda market is very competitive but consumers are very open to trying new brands and products. These are the reason why you should invest and focus on few points if you want to succeed in the Soda market in China.
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As we just said, enter in this market requires to be very creative and bring something fresh and new to the consumers. Sodas are consumed in special moments because they correspond to specific needs such as refreshing while studying or hanging on with some friends. As a matter of fact, brands really need to target some moments related to the state of mind. The brand has to focus its marketing and communication strategy on it. Let’s not forget that Chinese people love foreign products because they are perceived as trendy products. But because the leaders are very present in their mind you need to find something particular to make them want your brand.
The challenge is about staying in people’s minds and become a reference. It is also very important to make a good analysis of your target. Most of the time bid soda brands choose to work with famous people but it does not always allow to catch a maximum of clients. By adopting a different and innovative strategy new brands can do their business.
How to promote your soda brand in China?
Today 91% of Chinese that use the internet have an account on at least one social network. Be present on these platforms increase the chances of making your brand known. Building a reputation in the Chinese market is also essential. There are many ways for you to improve your e-reputation, like Bidu Seo, PR(Press Release), Q&A management. Using word of mouth among users and creating interaction with potential consumers is vital in a digital-dominated market. Therefore, to promote yourself effectively in China it is necessary to be present on the most popular social networks: Wechat, Weibo, and Xiaohongshu, and to have an official website on Baidu.
- Work on the Packaging
- You can’t sell without the Chinese E-commerce Platforms
- Branding is everything in China
- Baidu and Reputation are really important
- Social media helps brands to create connexion with customers
- Choose the right Distribution Strategy
Optimize Webiste for Baidu
Chinese consumers and distributors must be able to find you in Baidu, the most popular search engine in China.
To build a great website follow some easy tips:
- The website must be in Chinese mandarin.
- Contact Information Featured on the Home page (Wechat, Phone, forms, etc)
- If possible a Live Chat will increase your Conversion Rate.
- It must be hosted in Mainland China or Hong Kong/Singapour (To put it simply your website will load faster and get a ranking boost on Baidu).
- The content must be adapted to Chinese tastes, be original and frequent (It will give your Website authority on Baidu)
Promote your soda brand on Weibo
With nearly 300 million active users, Weibo is the leading Chinese “one-to-many” microblogging platform: it is the most used social network by celebrities, companies, and organizations. They use it wishing to establish direct communication with consumers. Chinese users love to search for information on Weibo, they use it as a real search engine and then closely follow the news that is launched by the platform.
To promote yourself effectively on Weibo it is necessary to:
- create an official account, which is essential to build trust in users;
- post new comments and frequent updates;
- manage the community and interact with users and Kols;
- cross-marketing with other platforms such as website and Wechat
Invest in Storytelling and Packaging to sell your soda brand in China
If you are a small enterprise that wants to enter the Chinese soda market, it is really important to focus on the quality and on the history of your company. This is called storytelling. Storytelling is nothing more than the art of telling a story. The meaning of the two English terms that make up this word already tells us: story (“story”) and telling (from the verb tell, “to tell”). In marketing, storytelling means the conveyance of a “packaged” message within a story to a specific target. It is a real communication technique that aims to reach certain readers. Once you get their interest and emotional involvement thanks to your story, you can more easily push them to the desired action. For example, if you want to sell your Italian orange soda highlight the quality and the freshness of the oranges you use.
It is also very important to adapt the packaging to Chinese tastes. Chinese people really like strong colors and drawings.
Chinese consumers have expressed their desire to have different tastes in soft drinks. Consumers tend to have higher expectations. They really want products that correspond to their lifestyle. As their purchase increased, they are ready to pay more for a better product. Because of some scandals in the food industry, consumers pay attention to their health. Consequently, they want healthier products which means for the drinks less sugar. Of course, refreshing still a priority but they insist on security.
Read also: The juice market in China
Use Xiaohongshu to build your soda Brand reputation
Xiaohongshu is a social e-commerce platform that has become popular in China’s wealthy cities. The app’s core content is UGC (user-generated content). UGC on RED is one of the reasons behind the success of the app, as it becomes the place to go for genuine products/brand reviews and ultimately a perfect place for Kols. Posts (under the form of shopping notes) and comments would like to educate the user on a specific product more than merely advertising it. Chinese consumers have a lot of trust in social media recommendations.
When doing marketing in RED, keep in mind that even tho paid ads are possible and efficient, the criteria for advertisement are strict. Commercial vocabulary is forbidden, and a sentence such as “the best” as well. The strict control on brand promotion has for goal to keep the organic feel of the app which is what attracted them at first.
A soda brand can use it to build its reputation but also to create tutorials and comparisons, hiring a Kol. Kol can record videos in which they drink your soda, sponsor it, or compare it with others of different brands.
Sell Soda Brands on Chinese e-commerce platforms
Since at the beginning it is difficult to find reliable distributors in China, it can be good to start testing the market with cross-border e-commerce, such as Tmall Global and Jd crossborder. But also WeChat mini-programs, Kaola, Taobao, and Pinduoduo, who are better suited for a smaller budget brand, can be a valid solution.
After marketing your brands for a few months, you’ll attract Tmall partners (and more).
An interesting type of platform for you would be Kaola. Biggest Chinese cross-border eCommerce platform. If your Soda brand has enough recognition in China, you can pitch your brand on Kaola that will then distribute your product in China. But keep in mind, if your soda brand is nowhere to be found on the Chinese internet, your chance to find any eCommerce partner is close to 0.
The Italian Life Style mini-commerce is an excellent example of how Italian companies can use this tool to stimulate online sales in China. Inside, Chinese users can buy various typical Made in Italy products. The purchase takes place directly in-App, relying on customer service in Chinese in case of need. Italian Life Style then takes care of the entire shipment, from taking charge in the warehouse to home delivery. During this process, the customer can monitor the order status, again through the mini-program.
How to find distributors for your soda brand in China?
After some Branding effort, finding a distributor will be a much easier task as your brand/products will already have recognition in China. After you have built your own e-reputation on Chinese social media, you can start looking for some Chinese distributors. There are several ways in order to do that:
- Work with an agency or organization and its distribution network.
- Participate in trade fairs, put your Wecaht Qr code everywhere and show you already understand how the market works and that you are ready for it
- Have your listing on a Wechat H5 brochure that can easily be shared with potential distributors on any occasion. (This listing would be the “China” version of your PDF listing)
- Lead Generation: Get requests Online via your Website for instance.
Entering the Chinese market can be really difficult for a small enterprise but following the right steps, it is possible to reach Chinese consumers and to gain their trust.
We can help you with everything.
You can also read our Strategic Guide to Export Food Brands in China
GMA is your best partner to Market your Soda Brand in China
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