China Marketing Weekly: Do You Have To Get Wasted To Do Business In China?
This week we, of course, mention the Royal Wedding and the famous picture taken at US-China trade meeting. Tait also shares his Baidu SEO-related experience.
How much do you know about drinking culture in China? Have you ever attended one of those almost-legendary business dinners in China? If so, we want to hear all about it! Leave us a comment and share your story (we're not judging!) If not, scroll down to read what our experience is.
Is SEO the same for Google and Baidu? One of my favourite Chinese SEO blogs says it basically is, at least when it comes to strategy (read more in Chinese). I think he’s not used to working with multi-channel campaigns for Western clients though. I’ll show his points and mine.
Baidu indexes sites slowly. I know SEO is a long-term play, and you probably do too. But what about your boss? SEO can be a hard sell, and Chinese SEO even more so.
Baidu search results have a lot of Baidu’s own content. Overall, this decreases the value of SEO for your website, but it means it’s important to get your brand on those other platforms that rank so well on Baidu.
Baidu is bad at identifying original content, so often shows duplicate content in searches. This is tough. It’s possible to get ahead, but only with the site that Baidu thinks is important. (Or, if you’re a fancy foreigner, you could try emailing those Chinese individuals copying your content with a vaguely worded legal threat leading them to believe that them and their children will be arrested if they ever go to the USA or Europe… That might work too… Just saying…) Anyways, the main idea is to use other promotion methods for content marketing, rather than just search engines - such as social media.
Spotted on Social Media
Chinese fashionistas were not impressed with Meghan Markle’s dress. The topic of the royal wedding was trending on Weibo on Saturday, with over 100 million viewers and 48,000 discussions. The majority of comments focused on the bride’s gown, which “didn’t look special or spectacular at all”. Prior to the wedding, Chinese netizens criticized Meghan for her relationship with her father and stated she’s “unfit to represent the royal family”. She’s also often compared to Kate who is highly praised in China for her class and fashion choices. - Read more (English)
Jing Daily also noticed it may be a sign that Western brands started losing their “foreign label” advantage as Chinese consumers turn to domestic designers and brands.
Personally, I wondered how much of the resentment came from Meghan Markle's mixed origin. In China, racism towards black people is still an issue. But Sesia mentioned, the disapproval could also originate from the fact she was married before. Having divorced person in the family may be considered as "losing a face".
Chinese netizens mark the end of an era as a photo from trade talks in Washington goes viral. The image, shared first on Instagram by Bill Pascrell, shows legislators from the House Ways and Means Committee on the right, and a delegation of Chinese officials on the left. It soon attracted a lot of attention on Weibo. Users compared it to the picture taken in 1901 when the agreement that ended the Boxer Rebellion was signed.
“Over the past 100 years, American officials have gone from young to old, and Chinese officials have gone from old to young,” one Weibo user wrote. “This has a lot to do with the current state of the two countries. America today is just as closed off as China was 100 years ago.” - Read more (English)
iQiyi sues Bilibili, users say they’re just being greedy. iQiyi is a platform famous for its high-quality self-made TV shows. But as the number of in-stream ads has been ridiculous lately, they have been losing users to Bilibili. The latter platform is free of charge, and also allows its users to upload their own “shows”.
As iQiyi sued Bilibili for broadcasting its show “China Got Hip-Hip”, netizens pointed out that iQiyi’s shows had been accused of plagiarism many times before. They also asked why weren’t they suing Youtube as the show is published there as well. - Read more (Chinese)
Bringing the case to court will probably make iQiyi a million yuan reacher, but its users may be long gone by then, based on what I read in the comments on social media.
Drinking Culture in China
Another person was killed by drinking, and this time his friends paid out a 1 million Yuan settlement. Some blamed it on excessive Chinese drinking culture. Is it essential to drink a lot in order to do well in business in China? I think not. Although we went through a stage in Nanjing Marketing Group where we drank quite a bit, we later cooled it way down. Everybody is fine with that. I can still tear it up when needed. But in general, the idea that you need to drink a ton to be successful in work in China is BS. - Read more (English)
The drinking habits have improved over the past few years in 1st- and 2nd-tier cities. Mostly because the regulations got more strict. If a person is being urged to drink, or does not get safe home, his drinking buddies will be brought to justice (read more in Chinese). Another reason is people seem to care more about drinking etiquette over dinners and their own health.
However, in the 3rd- and 4th-tier cities, stories like the one above are heard on a regular basis. Especially for the generation of my parents and grandparents (50+), there’s no other way of discussing business or other serious matters than over a bottle of baijiu. Saying no means offending the host, so everyone drinks until they fall asleep or get completely wasted.
The drinking culture in China was one of the first things we discussed during my culture classes at the university. Many of the people I met in China also mentioned that business etiquette is different here. In Western countries, you first talk business, then go out and drink. In China, it’s all blended together. There’s no way of signing any deal if you don’t have a dinner and a drink (or ten) with your partners. Having lived in a business centre of Nanjing, I have to agree. 9-10 pm was usually the time when businessmen rolled, crawled, or were carried out by more sober colleagues.
However, as I worked for a Chinese company before, I took part in a few of those dinners myself. My boss had a very smart way to kill two birds with one stone. Instead of a regular glass, he used a tiny one, not much bigger than a thimble. This way he never offended anyone, had a drink with every single person, but was still able to stand straight.
Beware Of Censors
Toutiao changes its popular slogan after being pressured by censors. After being suspended many times within the last few months, the app had to revise its published content and limit commenting feature. Now, their slogan: “All you’re interested in, it's Toutiao(你关心的，才是头条)” has just been changed to “News create value (信息创造价值)”. - Read more (Chinese)
Muji gets fined 200k yuan for calling Taiwan a country. Apparently, some of the products sold in their stores, including hangers, had a label saying “Made it Taiwan” in Chinese. Based on China’s advertising law, it is considered “detrimental to the country’s dignity or interests”. - Read more (Chinese)