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The Data Digest: Use WOM To Reach Consumers In Metro China

Reineke Reitsma
Vice President, Research Director
September 30, 2011

Companies like Coca-Cola, Nike, Unilever, Procter & Gamble (P&G), McDonald’s, and Johnson & Johnson have done a great job converting their brands into household names in Metro China, mainly by investing big in advertising and promotions. Having pockets deep enough to put these messages in front of the Chinese people is great, but if your firm is interested in entering this market of 1.37 billion people but doesn’t have access to the advertising financial resources of a Coca-Cola or P&G, what do you do?

Start thinking about word-of-mouth (WOM) campaigns. Due to historic events and their family teachings, Chinese people tend not to trust content coming from strange sources. However, Chinese people are known to be loyal to their friends and family. Forrester Technographics® data shows that “recommendations from friends and family” (44%) is the primary source of content people trust in Metro China. Interestingly, among the top five sources, we also see “email from people you know” (40%) and “social networking site profiles from people you know” (25%). These are both forms of word of mouth that have transitioned from the offline world to the online world.


Companies that attempt to enter the Chinese market with limited resources should focus on creating an initial good impression to some Chinese consumers, then couple that with online and offline tools to create a word-of-mouth strategy to reach consumers in different age groups. Microblogging, social networking, and group-buying websites can serve such Internet WOM purpose. For instance, McDonald’s launched a Group Lunch campaign on Kaixin001 (one of China’s most popular social networking sites) and attracted 150,000 participants right away. 


This Data Digest was co-authored by my colleague Samantha Jaddou.


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