In China, there are interesting opportunities for foreign investors. In particular, opening your own bar or restaurant could prove to be a profitable investment, once the necessary considerations have been made regarding the location, licenses, and permits required. But once you have established your business in the Chinese market, how can you make your sales profitable and increase the number of customers of your bar?
What is the Bars market like in China?
ACMR-IBISWorld estimates that the bars industry in China will generate $4.7 billion in 2020, down by 7.3% from 2019. This is mainly due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in China in the first quarter of 2020.
Over the past five years, industry revenue has grown at an annualized 15.9% due to several reasons:
- Lifestyle changes, an increasing emphasis on personal happiness, and the development of a range of drinking establishments have contributed to rapid industry growth.
- Increasing urbanization in China and higher incomes have boosted the demand for industry services.
- Improvements in chain store and franchise management and the emergence of new brands have also supported the industry’s development.
Chinese consumers’ behavior post-COVID-19
According to CGA research, ever since commercial venues reopened across China following the blockade of COVID-19, there has been an almost uniform division between consumers who have visited bars and those who have stayed away for fear.
Consumers are more confident when it comes to visiting restaurants. The places that consumers feel most comfortable visiting are our traditional and refined restaurants, followed by cafés and fast-food restaurants. While clubs, pubs, and leisure facilities are classified as outlets where consumers feel less confident about returning.
A Need to adapt quickly to a fast-changing industry
Bars may need to shift strategy to adapt to new conditions, including changes in drinking habits, the choice of where to visit, and the impact on disposable income. Bars should also care about current trends in China that may have a long-term impact on their business like the acceleration of health considerations and the impact of financial hardship on premiumization.
Understanding a consumer perspective offers a glimpse into the future and allows you to understand how target consumers will react and therefore what strategies can be implemented to be successful in the Chinese market.
How to get more clients for your bar in China?
Localizing your business and understanding Chinese consumer behavior is always the best way to be successful in this market.
By now everyone knows how important the internet is in Chinese people’s daily life. The question that may ask is how do I use the internet to increase my profit in China? The answer is very simple: Be everywhere and manage the information channels and information sharing most used by Chinese consumers. But what are these channels and how to use them?
Website on Baidu to be visible among Chinese customers
Many people in the West will never have heard of Baidu, the most popular search engine in China. 90% of Internet users in China use Baidu (over 700 million people). In addition, over 75% of the nation’s online search queries take place on Baidu, which equates to billions of searches per month.
Baidu’s features, products, services, and layout are very similar to those of Google, but it addresses the Chinese market and censors all search results and content that are not in compliance with Chinese regulations.
Baidu generates revenue from advertising with a system similar to that of Google. Advertisers bid on keywords that trigger their ads to appear. It is also possible to pay to rank first in search results. Paid ads take priority over Baidu while Google favors organic results. There is general idea by Chinese users believe that if a company can pay for advertisements, it must be reliable.
Baidu partly ranks sites based on their HomePage. So, to be well-positioned you have to give your best in the HP of the site, and above all do not use English terms that are blocked. The Chinese language is complex, with some words having multiple meanings. Baidu’s search algorithms attach great importance to the context in which words are used in the content.
Finally, Baidu has its own platform for analyzing data traffic: Baidu Analytics, which is used by over 7 million websites. Baidu favors Chinese websites with the .cn extension. Therefore, it is good to register your company in China if you want to be indexed on the most used engine in the country.
If you want to break into the Chinese market, Baidu SEO is a must-step and a must-have. However, Baidu is really different from Google, if you want to know more, you can contact GMA.
Social media account to interact with your clients and manage CRM
Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are blocked in the country and the Chinese use local social media which are completely different from the western ones. The Chinese use social media, and especially WeChat to do everything in their daily lives. Things such as chatting with friends, looking for information, sharing opinions, booking tables, and services, paying for products, transferring money, and so on.
The most used social media are WeChat, Weibo, Douyin, Xiaohongshu, and Kuaishou which attract millions of users. China is the largest social media market in the world.
Why are social media so important for bars in China?
Social media as a channel wins more trust of consumers. Consumers believe more in the messages brands directly communicate on social media, whether via WeChat, Weibo, or Little Red Book posts.
People get a more solid connection to the brand via social media and at the same time brands can reach Chinese consumers and interact with them.
As a matter of fact, companies should develop a good digital marketing strategy on these platforms.
Most effective ways for bars to communicate with Chinese customers?
Bars should adapt their marketing strategies to local habits and manage customer relationships. Here there are some tips about how to attract clients for your bar.
- Can they book a table?
More than 904 million Chinese people now using the internet and 897 million people are on a mobile devices. As previously mentioned, the Chinese use their mobile phones to do anything, even reserving a table in a bar. This is an excellent service offer to improve the customer relationship by offering a fast and intuitive service.
As you can see from the image below, Karter Bar and Bar Rouge offer this service to reserve a table in their bars.
- Mobile payments service
Mobile payments are an aspect of the technological impact in China that is now used to pay for anything, even drinks. Paying with your phone in China has become a way of life. Alipay and WeChat Pay dominate the market. Alipay is a standalone app, while WeChat Pay is embedded right inside WeChat and is more heavily used to pay for services in daily life.
- Promotions and discounts
According to a survey analysis of China’s connected Consumers, 70% buy only discount products and the rest 30% are willing to buy at a full-non discounted price online.
Promotions and discounts are the most functional way to attract Chinese customers. The Chinese love discounts and making weekly discounts or offering 3 drinks for the price of two attracts their attention very much. This is a way to create word of mouth among Chinese consumers and increase your bar’s visibility among them.
- Organize events with Chinese celebrities/KOLs or famous DJs as guests
Organizing weekly events with famous guests for Chinese consumers could be a great way to attract their attention and have them reserve a table in your bar.
As you can see in the following image, Bar Rouge organizes many events and advertises them on social media such as Wechat to reach Chinese consumers.
Forums and Q&A platforms to create word of mouth and increase your visibility among customers
Chinese people increasingly depend on these platforms as a place to share their opinions and ask for advice.
For example, Zhihu is a Chinese question-and-answer site like Quora. On Zhihu, questions are created, answered, edited, and organized by its users. People here ask for information on bars to go for drinks, prices, services, and quality. Therefore it is an important platform to create word of mouth and increase your visibility and reputation.
Bars can develop:
- Q&A Campaigns (Answering questions, bars can establish a relationship with users and build their e-reputation)
- KOL Endorsements to enhance a bar image and reputation (brands can invite experts or key opinion leaders to answer questions for them. Answering questions on Zhihu allows them to showcase their expertise and connect with both industry experts and general users)
- Zhihu Live (it allows bars to conduct online presentations of events or special discounts. Brands can have opportunities to provide in-depth knowledge and communicate with users in a more direct way).
PR: Media & community to increase the visibility of your bar
Reliability in China is everything and your reputation is the key to success. PR is a good way to build your credibility. It is a great way to promote your bar and get it discovered by many consumers.
PR is a free marketing tool, which consists of having an authority profile talking about your company, which can be media (newspapers, blogs..), KOLs, or even community. PR has the advantage of lasting in time and getting you covered by trusted people on third-party websites which gives you legitimacy.
However, It is not always easy to get a press release which is why our agency with the right connection and that know how to proceed is offering this type of service. Contact us to discuss it further!
Do you want to know more about How to market your brand in the Chinese market? Contact GMA a digital marketing agency, specializing in the Chinese digital market.