Tencent announced in early 2019 that daily active users for WeChat had climbed to over 1.5 billion. To put that into perspective, that’s roughly 60 times the population of Australia and so while Facebook has 1.82 billion daily active users, WeChat is catching up. Fast.
Using WeChat to sell apartments online to the Chinese is resonant to the gimmicky perception that social media once had merely 4 years ago (when I started EDC from the front of my house). It is reflective of the digital evolution permeating all levels of consumption across the world.
Nobody believed digital advertising would replace the mighty newspaper, with early REA and Domain Account Managers reflecting on the ridiculed welcomes they received in the early days. Seeing is believing when Murdoch’s Newscorp share price uninspiringly traded at A$23.90 last Friday while REA sings along at an all-time high of A$140 and Facebook ascends A$368.
How to use WeChat to sell apartments online to the Chinese.
In the same pragmatic manner to westerners in the early days, an embarrassing mistake most property developers make is that they arrive with their own mysterious-Orient views about how Chinese consumers would buy. Although WeChat is seen as the vanguard of communicating with the Chinese audience, many western companies still consider WeChat advertising as the poorer cousin of the social media family.
Perception is not reality because with 96.84% adult literacy in China, growing from an appalling 65.51% in 1982, Chinese consumers can now engage with digital content and they are ready to consume with a voracious appetite. They are no longer considered backwater or as Angelica Cheung the Founding Editor of Vogue China put, “not new peasant money”.
So what are the core pillars you should pay attention to before launching your first WeChat campaign?
Hire Chinese consultants.
Chinese consumers are demanding and even more so when you are dealing with connected ones. The responsiveness is the very expectation they are seeking. And Chinese consumers mostly prefer to communicate in Chinese.
An instant message outweighs an email, a voice message is more powerful than a text and a scannable QR code is more effective than a URL. And the truth is that unless you are Chinese or have lived in China, you won’t truly understand the complexity of WeChat.
There is a saying in Chinese, that they prefer to deal with someone who looks, sounds, and smells like them because it is simply deeply entrenched in their cultural upbringing. Don’t believe me? I’ve had Chinese friends confess to hanging up the phone if a business answers in English.
Finally, we would caution developers against hiring Chinese University students to handle WeChat enquiries because when it comes to selling high ticket items, life experience matters.
Educate based on values
The national obsession with education is reflected across thousands of years in Chinese history. Since late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1977 resumed the national college entrance exams and led the country’s economic reforms, this reiterated the importance of education as a Chinese value.
When you compound this value against the underlying reasons why the Chinese like to buy property and create content that nails each spectrum, this fuels their desire to buy from you.
Beautiful renders and branding matter
For the Chinese, craftsmanship, and artistry are widely associated with the upper class. Therefore, in China, luxury goods are more than the peripheral status symbols they are in the West; they’ve become badges of success.
For affluent buyers, the fastest and easiest way to convey their role as a winner in society is through luxury consumption. Whether it be a Louis Vuitton handbag to an apartment in Sydney, Melbourne, or New York City, these purchases are deeply symbolic and for Chinese consumers, first impressions last. So as the Chinese eye becomes more discerning, high quality renders, exceptional storytelling, and trophies of success matter.
The need for the content to be strikingly beautiful yet authentic is at the heart of a successful WeChat campaign.
Be specific with platforms and targeting
We wrote about the Ten Commandments of Facebook Marketing and with WeChat, an overarching principle remains the same – be extremely specific with targeting. While the Chinese community may seem big, it is still a small village in the netizen world.
The largest share of WeChat users is employed in the private sector or are self-employed/freelance, according to a study conducted by Technode. These two sectors alone account for around 60% of users which is often the highest income sectors in the country as explored in a previous article (Where do crazy rich Asians get their money from).
And the most lucrative target of them all? The silver surfer market, those aged 55+ who read subscription articles, 62% share them and over 50% of them use payment app WeChat Pay. WeChat clearly serves as a prominent part in the lives of older users. For a lot of these consumers, they think WeChat is the internet so by adhering to core principles of education and advertorials, this is the perfect marketing vehicle.
As it stands, WeChat is the dominant and entrenched social platform in China. While the sometimes unpredictable nature of the Chinese authorities means the risk of state censure is a persistent threat to any organisation that enjoys a high level of success, WeChat’s huge range of functions and integration with so many facets of physical as well as virtual life, there is huge scope for property developers to use this as a marketing channel. If Harry Triguboff’s Meriton is using WeChat religiously to build his $14 Billion empire, then we should all take heed.