Unlocking the Chinese market

Unlocking the Chinese market

The story of Pic’s Peanut Butter’s success in China provided a useful lesson on Chinese market potential for members of Rotorua’s visitor industry at a recent workshop. The China-ready event was hosted by Destination Rotorua and the North Asia Centre for Asia Pacific Excellence to help local businesses respond to the needs of Chinese customers in preparation for next year’s China New Zealand Year of Tourism.

Pic Picot from Pic’s Peanut Butter told the group how he has built his successful business by focusing on the power of connections to establish a strong network of product advocates. And he says that the Chinese market is no different.

“We take it one person at a time and if that person is enthusastic about your product, they’ll share that enthusiasm widely through their social networks.”

And the approach is working. Pic’s now accounts for 40% of all online sales of peanut butter in China and is now available in supermarkets there too.

The power of social networks was a common theme throughout the workshop. Each speaker emphasised the importance of having a strong presence on Chinese payment apps AliPay and WeChat Pay to reach customers and build demand.

Ralph Shale from I Grow New Zealand explained that 75% of Chinese tourists do extensive research on what they’ll do in their holiday destination before they leave home. Furthermore around 65% of all their search activity is done in WeChat. This means that local operators have to reach them online during their planning process to ensure that Rotorua is included.

His tips to local operators are: 

  • Take payments via Chinese Mobile platforms and promote that fact widely - 90% of tourists are more likely to shop where Chinese payments are accepted.
  • Start by offering coupons within the platforms to drive awareness and demand, before investing heavily in other marketing activities.

Destination Rotorua’s Business Development Manager Asia, Cynthia Fang said that China is an important market for Rotorua, currently accounting for $56.5m in visitor spend per year.

Anne French, Business Director, North Asia Centre for Asia Pacific Excellence added: “It’s important that tourism businesses have the tools and knowledge to respond to customers from key North Asian markets such as China.”

This is the first in a series of four China-ready workshops for the Rotorua visitor industry, with the next one to be held in March 2019. Contact Cynthia@rotoruanz.com for more information.