‘Tree Labs’ Speakers Capture the Attention of Chinese Consumers..
Tree Labs are a Swiss Brand of audio, portable bluetooth speakers that set out to make waves (sound waves?..) in the highly competitive yet lucrative Chinese market. This is the story of how the brand entered the market and generated a high level of interest in their product, despite being completely new to Mainland China.
This serves as an inspirational example of how new brands can make a real impact with the right, intelligent digital strategy.
Introducing Tree Labs
This Swiss brand sells audio portable Bluetooth Speakers. They define themselves as a team of ‘audio geeks and fanatics’.
Their USP is quality, they control the manufacturing process and take the necessary time to develop and improve the process to produce the best product. Their aim is to bring the purest and highest quality of sound to their customers.
Design-wise, they never opt for standard models for their speakers and offer original, unique designs. They partnered with the renowned tattoo studio ‘Tattoo Temple’ to produce unique, exclusive works of art featured on the products (see example below).
The unique & eye-catching speaker designs.
Tree Labs see opportunity in China
The European market is stable but sales have slowed. Growth in Europe is harder with a more saturated, competitive market that is further along the ‘market life cycle’, particularly in the portable speaker sector. Tree Labs, therefore, turned to China in an effort to grow the brand, and increase sales and global revenue.
The Chinese market when compared to Europe is booming, and GDP is still growing by 7% year-on-year. China now boasts 350 million ‘middle class consumers’, a greater number than the entire population of the US.
Tree Labs saw that they only needed to capture a small slice of this market to see significant results.
‘International’ ‘Swiss’ Brands = Quality
‘Tree Labs’ as a Swiss brand benefited from the positive Chinese association with international brands and quality. There are many poorer quality, fake Chinese versions of speakers circulating. This has actually produced a strong demand for genuine brands from China’s more discerning consumers, ‘international’ brands often represent this authenticity and quality because they come from outside this ‘counterfeit marketplace’.
Products from Switzerland have a particularly high standing with quality design and production associated with their infamous watches. Tree Labs also needed to tap into these connotations of technical quality, especially when it came to selling audio speakers.
The solution for Tree Labs? Online Marketing & Branding
People go online for more than 25 hours per week in China, to make purchases but also to research. Brands are very important, they have to see that you are both visible and reputable online.
The web in China is separated by the ‘Great Chinese Firewall’, this effectively cuts it off from the rest of the world, the established platforms we are used to are blocked in China. No Facebook, instead WeChat, No Google, rather Baidu. Forget Twitter, in China there is Weibo..
Tree Labs needed to build its reputation and visibility on Chinese platforms to the right, targeted communities.
Consumers consider that foreign brands are of much better quality than local products, they base their decisions on the information they find on the Chinese web and from their social circles which are most active online.
It is thus essential to appear on Chinese search engine result pages and the right local platforms when targeting informed consumers and to think through your communication strategy carefully.
Partnering with Gentlemen... Their team is on the ground.
Tree Labs approached Gentlemen to develop their Chinese digital marketing strategy. Our international team of 25 marketers is set to work planning and implementing the most effective strategy for their growth.
It’s important to tailor and adapt a brand’s offering to the Chinese market but also remain true to its identity and business values, we worked closely with Tree Labs on how best to communicate the brand’s message.
Finding the right solutions..
The brand wanted to start e-commerce activities, improve its e-reputation / visibility and focus on branding itself in this new marketplace.
Baidu SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Increasing a brand’s presence on Baidu is of vital importance. Baidu is the largest search engine in China with 75% of all online research conducted here. The goal was to increase the ranking of Tree Labs Chinese site based on Mandarin Character keyword searches.
To enhance a site for Baidu both the front and the back ends have to be optimized. We launched a backlinks/content campaign to create external links from other Chinese sites. This would improve their ranking in the natural search results where the most qualified and serious potential consumers would be searching, ask yourself; which serious prospects click on the ads?
Press Relations / Communication Campaign
The brand needed to get their foot in the door with strong content and press releases shared with Chinese e-media. We developed their high-quality Chinese content and spread this via the most effective portals.
It is vital for brands to be featured in Chinese e-media sources for significant exposure, validation and reputation, to do this need to form and leverage contacts with journalists.
Using KOLs as a Launchpad (Key Opinion Leaders).
In China Key Opinion Leaders are a powerful way to market a product. These are established individuals with large followings already built around themselves, they are trusted and deemed to be experts in their particular field.
New businesses can tap into the large, active and engaged communities that follow KOLs. They are most prominent on live streaming sites and social media, here we engaged with a number of KOLs on Weibo & WeChat to promote trust in the brand, if an established Chinese figure had adopted the product so too would others.
Social Networks as a ‘Springboard’ for Tree Labs
Social networks are in vogue in China, they are the beating heart of social communication among online users. WeChat and Weibo are the two main platforms to concentrate on.
WeChat has over 850 million monthly active users whilst Weibo boasts over 300 million, impressive figures by any stretch of the imagination?
On WeChat, we created an official Tree Labs account which was linked to a quality Mini-site hosted within the app. This acted as a ‘shop front’ for the brand and also featured a ‘WeChat store’. We drove traffic and promoted this through quality content as well as engaging with groups of users with an interest in music and audio. WeChat groups are a very targeted way of marketing as they form around certain areas of interest and preference. The goal was to grow their follower number, drive traffic to their account, and brand the product through sharing quality content.
Weibo complemented the WeChat campaign with QR Codes (links) embedded in Weibo posts. Weibo is an open social platform, users can see posts from anyone which helps when it comes to the visibility of posts.
How did we do?
This was a very successful campaign for Tree Labs, considering they were practically invisible online in China prior to engaging in digital strategy.
In terms of Baidu Visibility & Promotion, the brand appeared on the first page for the keywords ‘Bluetooth Speaker’ and ‘Bluetooth Headset’. They increased their Weibo following by 2000 and attracted an additional 2500 fans on WeChat. This has helped them build a consumer base to launch more loyalty programs in order to further engage with them and drive online sales.
The site also grew in popularity with over 1000 visitors per month browsing the shopping cart and product pages. This greater exposure lead to more leads for the company and an increased presence to act as a foundation for the Swiss Brand going forward.
China takes commitment and perseverance but with the right strategy in 6 months you can set up your brand to facilitate continued growth and sales through digital platforms, the Tree Labs story demonstrates this.
- Creative Bluetooth Speaker on the 1st page
- Creative Bluetooth headset on the 1st page
- +2,000 Weibo and WeChat fans
- 1,000 visitors per month to their website
… Greater exposure and leads brought to the company.
Want a Digital Marketing agency for the Chinese Market?
We are a specialist digital marketing agency with a passion for growing businesses in this highly lucrative market. We look to make long-term business partnerships with serious projects. Please contact us for more information.
Really good post on how the company got a foot in to China. Very motivational and worth the time reading.