Today, Marketing to China welcomes Tree Labs, a start-up that has launched wireless speakers and aims at becoming the leader in the Chinese market within 5 years
Created by a Swiss, who has been living in China for a few years, it is a Frenchman who is the marketing manager in charge of launching the brand on the Chinese market. So today we have the pleasure to interview Guillaume for Marketing to China
I arrived in Ningbo in September 2008, I worked there for 6 months then I went to Shanghai to study Mandarin at Jiao Tong University.
I worked 3 years and half for a trading company specialized in promotional items and corporate gifts.A year ago, I finally opened the marketing and sales office in Shanghai for Ningbo Prosound factory, located in Zhenjiang province.
We seek to build a brand for the factory and become a leader in the speaker market.
Can you explain how you decided to create your own brand ?
When I arrived in China, I noticed that very few Chinese brands are known abroad because they only focus on the local market.
While I was working I decided to do a side business, I opened a webstore in France (folee.com) selling Chinese / Asian designer brands, not yet imported. The best example is the brand M.R.K.T. for which I have been an exclusive distributor since 2010.
This branding experience brought me to start building a brand for the factory I work for, evolving from OEM to OBM.
Could you describe your brand ?
Tree-Labs is a Swiss brand established by a team of audio geeks. We come from different places like Switzerland, France, China and Taiwan and each one of us bring his cultural background and know-how to design beautiful pieces and professional audio solutions. We all have very different professional backgrounds such as audio engineering, manufacturing, and product design. We came together to grow something different that interests and challenges us.
Numerous competitors give a third party company the audio development task, while we, at Tree-Labs design our own audio solutions as well as the cosmetic design, the manufacturing and QC.
We create unique product that stands out from the competition.
What are the main key successes of a brand in China?
A brand needs a thorough understanding of the Chinese market and adapt very quickly to a market whose trends change almost on a daily basis.
You have to have strong implication in Chinese social media as well. (exemple)
Finally a strong brand image is crucial, especially at the beginning. The quality of the product is a core value because Chinese customers look for quality and they become increasingly demanding in that regard.
What are your target customers nowadays?
We target the 15-35 years old, urban, trendy, looking for originality in product design and audio experience.
We try to build a community around our collections, get loyal customers.
How would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
I would like to see Tree-Labs getting an international recognition in term of image and see the sales going global.
Most of the international brands are getting famous everywhere else before getting famous in China, I would like to see Tree-Labs doing the opposite.
I wish our OBM production will take over our OEM production soon.
In your opinion, what are the main changes in China in 2014 ?
From my industry, I noticed that more new middle size / small size brands appeared on the market, and “concept stores” that selling several unknown brands are getting popular. While few years back only major brands were on the Chinese market.
On another issue, in December 2013, there was really serious air pollution in Shanghai.This year, pollution-related issues have brought an increase in general awareness, and use of pollution masks, advertisement for air purifier is now everywhere! People are taking actions on pollution problems which are a sensible subject since the Chinese government censored the American embassy’s pollution data.
How do you see China in 10 years ?
That’s a big topic! I think China will become more and more international, Chinese people will speak better English soon, study abroad and travel more.
The Western perception of the cheap “Made in China” product will slowly evolve, especially for export product.
Chinese productions are becoming expensive. The only way to maintain the exportation is to increase the quality of the products. I believe we will see many new Chinese brands going global, and I hope Tree-Labs will be a good example!