How a Thai snack brand increased sales and went viral with Chinese tourists

‘Glendee’ is a snack brand from Thailand. They produce potato chips, coconut chips, and other variations made from different fruits and vegetables.

They had a specific focus when it came to China, they wanted to attract Chinese tourists visiting Thailand to purchase their products as well as sell directly into the Mainland market.

I’ll explore this case study to emphasize the importance of targeted marketing to the right segment of consumers as well as the profitability of tapping overseas Chinese travelers for international brands.

Thailand: the most popular destination for Chinese tourists

This was an intelligent and very targeted move, with Thailand now the most popular destination for Chinese overseas visitors, snack brands such as Glendee are right to specifically targeted Chinese tourist. With 350 million ‘middle class consumers, the number of visitors to Thailand is currently increasing by 10% year on year.

Thailand tourism promotion

Shopping is an important part of their travel itinerary

For the Chinese shopping is literally one of the reasons they travel, we are talking about a nation of avid consumers that look to purchase many gifts to bring back with them for friends, family and personal keepsakes.

Products need to tap into this desire to shop, consumers buy brands and in this instance, the brand needs to represent ‘Thailand’ in their minds. The solution for Glendee was to strongly associate the product with the positive connotations of Thailand.

They will likely purchase reputable brands abroad if they are known in Mainland China before they even set off on their trip.

The Challenges for Glendee

The brand was new for Chinese customers with little awareness or reputation online. They would have to build their visibility and reputation in order to increase sales amongst overseas shoppers.

They also had no community of followers or customers. The fierce competitive online environment meant they would have to be savvy and develop the right, targeted digital strategy for tourists.

The Chinese market is cut off and very different

It is vital to realize this, the whole online ecosystem is cut off by the ‘Great Chinese Firewall’ producing what is effectively the largest closed, ‘intranet’ in the world. Brands must start over again in China, it levels the playing field somewhat. Despite Glendee’s reputation in Thailand as a popular snack none of their previous marketing efforts would be noticed if they weren’t in Mandarin Chinese or posted on local platforms.

Partnering with Gentlemen

The solution for Glendee was to partner with Gentlemen Marketing. With our wealth of experience in the Chinese market, we understand deeply the right, targeted platforms to focus on for tourists. We also adapted and tailored Glendee’s content for China.

This was a fruitful partnership that delivered fruitful results, and I’m not just referring to the flavored snacks!

Finding the right solutions

The right solutions for Glendee were to target marketing efforts to travelers who had booked an upcoming trip to Thailand, had previously visited (repeat visits are most common in China) or approached those who were in the potential overseas holiday market segment. For example, those with a family earning above 15 000 RMB a month certainly have the funds for international travel.

WeChat Account Set Up & WeChat Store

WeChat now boasts over 860 million monthly active users and is the largest social network in China.

Setting up an official WeChat account is vital, all serious brands have a presence on the platform. Users will search for information here almost like they would on a search engine, indeed the app has been fondly nicknamed the ‘WeChat Times’.

Glendee’s account was linked to a ‘WeChat Store’. These are micro-stores hosted within the app itself. This type of social commerce is exploding in China with active users making payments easily through the e-wallet service connected to their accounts. With the swipe of a screen, payment can be made instantly.

For ‘Glendee’ Chinese shoppers in Thailand needed to pay via familiar payment methods. They set up a WeChat QR code payment service where users could just scan and pay in-store. They also sold products via the WeChat shop directly to Chinese customers, some tourists would travel, buy the product, enjoy it, and look to purchase more.

We developed their content to grow their visibility on WeChat, and being present here helped develop a loyal consumer base with repeat purchases via the store.

The content was linked to Thai culture, and travel experiences and tapped into the new wave of Chinese consumers who desire a more ‘international’ lifestyle than ever before in their country’s turbulent history. They express this through purchases in a new age of consumerism.

Key Opinion Leaders, Videos Posted on Weibo

Weibo (literally ‘microblog’) is the second largest social network in China with 300 million active users.

‘Key Opinion Leaders’ or KOLs are a powerful ally in China. These are established online figures with a large number of impressionable followers. They offered a great infrastructure for the growth of Glendee.

We created a video with the famous KOL in the field of travel ‘Yan Shun’. She walked around a Thai supermarket highlighting the different Glendee products whilst praising their merits in Chinese. The video achieved over 2 million views with tens of thousands of interactions, comments, posts and shares.

In addition we used both WeChat & Weibo as Launchpad for content sharing, and consumer interaction and offered customer services via instant messaging.

‘Little Red Book’ E-commerce Sales

The site claims not to be a reference to Mao’s infamous ‘Red Book’ but regardless of the name’s intention, this platform is certainly making waves in China. ‘Little Red Book’ (LRB) is riding the crest of the social-commerce trend in China; it functions as a social network combined with e-retail services. Users will post images of their purchases and write reviews on the platform.

It has become another key site for opinion leaders to promote products as they build their network via the platform. 12 influencers reposted Glendee products from their LRB accounts.

Glendee’s product range was also offered here with much hype created by those traveling in Thailand, they would post live with images of their purchases to emphasize the fact they were in Thailand. This was our branding strategy, to create Glendee as a product typifying the positive association with Thailand, holidays and international luxury.

E-Reputation in China

E-reputation in China is vital. The Chinese are led by the concept of ‘face’, that’s the importance of presenting a positive image and status. The reputation of products they buy increases not only purchases but also the vitality of the product through sharing to their news feeds.

40 Mandarin Chinese Press Releases were produced and shared via portals for Chinese news & e-media sources.

We also took building Glendee’s reputation on a host of dedicated travel forum threads on sites such as Baidu Tieba, Tianya & Douban. The Chinese will research extensively online before purchasing products, and forums (although out of fashion in the west) are still their preferred sites for conversation, user reviews and discussions.

Creating threads, up-ranking positive content and facilitating user discussion increased the brand’s presence and reputation significantly where before they were invisible.

A viral success story

This campaign was a real success because of the comprehensive strategy as well as the targeted marketing to travelers and potential tourists. The Opinion Leader video featuring ‘Yan Shun’ averaged a whopping 2 000 000 views with over 10 000 interactions per post on Weibo. Video content is king in China.

On WeChat Glendee now have over 11,031 followers with daily posts driving engagement, shares and follower interaction. Cross-promotion between WeChat and Weibo helped drive traffic with QR codes/links embedded in posts.
Little Red Book was a huge success for the company, boosting sales & leading to 12 influencers promoting the brand on the platform.

We successfully created a ‘buzz’ around Glendee as a brand increasing sales of their products directly in Mainland China as well as purchases overseas by tourists. We established the groundwork for Glendee to go on to be a huge success as they build and capitalize on their significant online following

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