How do we capture the interest of our lower tier consumers? How do we make them sit up and take notice of us and our brands? And even more, how can we ensure that they will go out and talk to others about us?
This is what we will be exploring this week – week 9 – the very last week in our Yangtze Study discussion on China lower tier consumers: Entertain me!
In this 9 part series, we had started off with a macro perspective on China’s lower tier consumers and then dug deep into their hearts, minds and motivations, unraveling their thoughts and their viewpoints on areas such as life, luxury and the brands they buy.
With this post, we wrap up our year at StarcomChinaBlog.com. We at Starcom China wish you happy holidays and thank you for tuning into our site and taking the time to read about our research and studies. It has been a fast-paced (and fascinating!) year and we look forward to what 2012 will bring.
While virtual communications and entertainment have become a part of everyone’s lives in some way, there is still a lot to be said for the tangible communications we see, those we can feel and those that can teach us more than we even realize in the moment.
OWNED MEDIA IS THEIR OOH MEDIA
When we look at lower tiers, owned versus paid media takes on a whole new meaning. Branded equipment, displays, promotions and give-aways are very welcome here. There are Coca-Cola emblazoned umbrellas on top of Coca-Cola tables… Coca-Cola and many other brands names are seen on useful objects such as tables, benches, chairs, and umbrellas. This is what we mean by owned media as out of home media; these useful objects are “channels” that the brand owns and controls, yet they can also be seen by lower tier consumers are OOH media.
This is seen frequently in lower tiers mainly because there simply aren’t as many (and as sophisticated) OOH spots (compared to higher tier cities) available for brands to purchase. Also, brands that can make themselves useful to the lower tier consumer’s every-day life can make an impact – especially since lower tier consumers are not typically going out of their way for specific brands, so that last minute reminder holds a lot of weight.
To shop owners, it becomes part of how brands add value and how they build their loyalty, by providing them ways to stand out, drive sales, and help their consumers (by providing them shade and seating, for example).
As brands, we need to understand what both shop-owners and consumers need and want versus what assets make sense for a brand. For example, picnic umbrellas and tables may make sense for Coca-Cola, but would that still work for, say, washing detergent?
For shoppers, particularly in lower tiers where formalized OOH is few and far in between, it becomes that chance to show “bigness” and distinctiveness, feeding a part of their brand consideration mindset that helps them see and understand which brands they should be paying attention to.
COLOUR THEIR WORLD
In a community where people generally have more time on their hands and life may just feel a little bit repetitive at times, new and noteworthy events add something different and exciting to their day. There’s a power to OOH events in lower tier cities that transcend the ‘reach potential’, as they are able to create strong buzz and word-of-mouth amongst these close-knit communities. Think of the mom who is out all the time and looking for ways to entertain both her and her child. As one mom told us: “Outdoor events liven my day. When my little daughter and I go for our daily walks, every once in awhile there are events in the town square and that is delightful to us.”
Take a look at this example from China Mobile. When they launched their 3G service, they wowed the local consumers with a pole dancing display in Qingyuan, Guangdong – drawing huge crowds and making it the focal point of the city’s People Square.
Says Lisa Richert, Strategy Director, North Asia
“Whether one-off events like this or sustainable events, such as creating playgroups or youth study sessions at QSR outlets or creating movie nights in the public square for people to meet, be entertained and learn, large brands can feel more approachable through simple executions brought to life.”
STOPPING POWER OF CELEBRITY
In lower tier cities, celebrities are seen almost as a well-known ‘friend’ – due to their familiarity and constant presence. Thus, they are sought out and referenced – and definitely not ignored.
Chatting with our lower tier consumers, some spoke of how they like supporting celebrities they feel they know. Some say that celebrity-supported brands are more trustworthy, while still 0thers said that they don’t think celebrities have purchase influence. But the one thing everyone agrees on is that when they see a celebrity, they pay attention. In their eyes, the celebrity is a bond between them and the brand. Few lower tier consumers have desires to be a celebrity… but they pay attention to what celebrities have to say.
Says Jeffrey Tan, National Research & Insights Director:
“Celebrities can become part of those simple visual cues for the brand, giving greater value to the message and medium. Think about how many further assets your celebrity endorsers can be leveraged across. But also be aware and understand of their power – do not give them more credit than they deserve.”
“Julia Roberts” in Guangdong
Speaking of celebrities, we had an “unknowing” celebrity in our Guangdong exploration. It turns out that a lot of people in lower tiers have never seen a Caucasian before (especially one as tall as Lisa). The school kids in Qingxin county were extremely excited when they saw Lisa because they thought that she was Julia Roberts. They even shouted across the school fields “Hello! Welcome to China!”
Could western celebrity endorsement in lower tiers be more impactful than local, or potentially more differentiating?
APPEAL OF BRANDED ENTERTAINMENT
Product placements strike a chord with consumers. It has a way of creeping into their subconscious and making them think differently about brands. It gives brands a platform to creatively showcase their brand essence through entertainment.
This is an example of what Starcom’s LiquidThread (our branded entertainment unit) did with M&Ms in China. This TV host interviewed an M&M, delighting the audience and viewers.
As we increase the video platforms we look at and more TV regulations are imposed for TVCs, brands have a growing need to think differently about the content they create across these platforms. We have talked about education and entertainment today – how will we bring that to life in video?
As we can see here, across tiers, the value of seeing a product or a brand in context, being used or discussed in the right environment carries a lot of value – even if that environment is fictional…
We have come to the end of our 9-week discussion on China’s lower tiers… and we could keep going on and on about it! We have many more learnings, across categories, target groups and regions.
We love this quote “Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still”.
We have taken these words to heart as we embarked on this Study. We know that there is so much left to learn but we appreciate all that we have learned so far.
We look forward to continuing our journey into the next chapter for China.
We would also like to thank our Sponsors, the Coca-Cola Company and the Wrigley Confectionary Company, for without whom this beginning would not have been possible.
Thanks and Happy Holidays!
All our best, from everyone at Starcom
Starcom MediaVest Yangtze Study – Insights Links:
Week 0: Kick-off and study details. Click here.
Week 1: It’s a Matter of Perspective – Click here.
Week 2: The Secrets of the Heart – Click here.
Week 3: Celebrating the Power of Family – Click here.
Week 4: Unveiling Community Dynamics – Click here.
Week 5: The World Outside My Door – Click here.
Week 6: Purchases and Product Consumption – Click here.
Week 7: Who Do I Turn To? – Click here.
Week 8: Digital New World – Click here.