Digital Luxury – Part II: Time To Build Aspirational Brands In China
China has officially become the biggest net nation with 253 million people in the country online, at a net penetration of 19% of the population. This mega-growth went up by 56% year-on-year. By 2012, analysts predict the total figure will be roughly 490 million.
If you are a non-Chinese digital service, with a product that you cannot even sell into China, you still need to peg your strategy to consider this development and provide the grounds for your product to become aspirational. In the early days of the web, the Internet was mainly a place to read about stuff or to wish that they would ship a given product to your country. Still, you were accounted as “eyeballs” and you did see all those banners flagged in your digital face. Search engines have now put the web on a platter and the success of many niche websites who “mysteriously” for many have manage to amass international following is based on creating a brand that surpasses the obvious core business of a given site: to sell you golf clubs, to dress paperdolls, to teach you how to bake Danish bread.
Products begin their early steps towards loyalty by building an aspiration. Car companies build their ‘this is the baby I’m getting with the next bonus” clients in this way. Luxury is an aspiration. What is luxury to you may be a normal must-have product for me, and the commodities that we all enjoy without thinking twice in Western societies, are a luxury in under-developed countries.
Information is a priviledge, so in countries where censorship restricts it, having access and reading other countries’ sites is a luxury; Wine is now a product available to the man on the street. Even if your site cannot ship to China, Chinese online audiences will want to read about it, and aspire to one day enjoy it;
With an audience of people growing at this rate and only different to you and me in economic GDP and civil liberties, we cannot turn our backs to this possibility: that the readers of today will become purching customers of tomorrow; that the readers of today will be able to be marketed other products through our site, hence turning our business cards online business in an advertising broadcasting channel, just like TV or a billboard.
Any product, any business, when in the eyes of the consumer, is never straightforward. Cars, French cheese, pens, watches, golf clubs…. these are all objects transformed by the personal aspiration that I get from them.
Why treat the Chinese market differently? Next time you consider an additional foreign language to your site, let Mandarin be the one.