Over the next 10-15 years China is expected to surpass the United Kingdom and Germany to become the world’s 3rd largest consumer market (behind the US and Japan).  It’s no wonder, then, why so many international brands want to know how to engage and bond with this mammoth market of consumers.

Yet, in order to uncover what works and doesn’t work for Western brands advertising in China, we must first discuss a major ideological difference that exists between these two cultures – the importance society places on groups versus individuals.

Like most Asian countries, Chinese culture emphasizes a collectivist society, where importance is placed on the group (i.e., family, extended relationships) rather than on individuals.  Society works to foster strong relationships and group loyalty, where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group.

This stands in stark contrast to our Western way of thinking, which places the individual front and center. In our culture, we have relatively loose bonds with other people and place more importance on self-reliance.

In a recent study Ameritest conducted in China, we found that this emphasis on the collective group can be a very powerful way to emotionally connect with Chinese consumers.  Out of thousands of images sorted by respondents, those that show family and social gatherings not only generate high positive emotion, but they are also among the strongest at communicating entertainment and satisfaction.

Positive Emotion: 96%; Entertaining: 66%; Satisfying: 44%

Positive Emotion: 92% Entertaining: 69% Satisfying: 40%

Positive Emotion: 91% Entertaining: 46% Satisfying: 31%

 

 

 

Positive Emotion: 74% Entertaining: 48% Satisfying: 36%

Positive Emotion: 86% Entertaining: 66% Satisfying: 28%

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

The above images show that China’s “we-centered” ideology, which helps mold how individuals make sense and meaning of the world, is important for creative and brand teams to keep in mind when advertising in China.  We are not saying that every ad you air in China should focus on the family, but understanding where your audience is coming from on a cultural level can certainly give you an advantage over your competition. Failure to strike the correct cultural cord in the story of your advertising could produce negative results, and nobody wants that.

Want more insights on advertising in China?  Check out our website (Ameritest.net) and download the full report “The Rise of the Chinese Consumer.”