In the digital age, information is becoming more and more fragmented.
Meanwhile, consumers’ access to media is also increasingly fragmented. However,
our services cannot be fragmented By Mr. Xiao Mingchao,
Founder & CEO of Zhimeng Consulting
Though there are many uncertainties since 2020, China’s economic prospects remain quite positive. When working on the trend report of 2020, Zhimeng Consulting uses two key words: the first is “evolution”. During the pandemic, the more closely enterprises adhere to digitalization, the less impact they suffer. Embracing digitalization has become an evolution practiced in all walks of life. Also, the lockdown period gives decision makers and marketing talents more time to slow down and think again. Obviously, their mode of thinking has also “evolved”.
The second key word is “vitality”. China’s digitalized infrastructure construction, especially Consumer Internet, has been well-established in recent years. Many people now have to or are suggested to stay at home. As a result, they do even more online consumption than before, which makes the online economy quite vibrant.
The two key words above are also clearly manifested by the data. The cross-sectional data of China’s economy in 2020 show: first, the GDP growth is obvious. During the pandemic, the economic growth in many countries has basically stagnated. However, in the first three quarters of 2020, China’s economy shows a cumulative year-on-year growth of 0.7%. The overall economic growth in 2020 is 2.2%, and it is forecasted that the growth will be about 4.8% in 2021. China’s economic prospect is quite bright. Second, consumer confidence is gradually being restored. In August 2020, the total retail sales of China’s social consumer goods increased by 0.5% year on year, showing that a new round of consumption has already restarted. Third, the Internet economy continues to flourish. From January to September 2020, the retail sales of online social goods increased by 15.3% year on year. All these data manifests that the vitality of China’s market continues to grow due to the effective and strong anti-pandemic measures.
Three Changes in Business Environment
Three major changes have taken place in the business environment in 2020: first, the digital divide is bridged. The epidemic has accelerated the development of digitalized and intelligent society. The year 2020 marked 5G’s official commercial use. By June 30, 2020, China’s 5G users exceeded 100 million. In terms of mobile Internet population, the percentage of users aged 50 and above increased from 16.9% in March to 22.8% in June. Second, the new online business forms have brought in new “digital life scenes”. Since last year, users of short video and live video platforms have increased significantly. Cloud life scenes show a richer diversity. Third, online business scenes have driven the surge of new consumptions. The pandemic has won time for the online driven new businesses and new consumer categories. In 2020, many new online consumer brands underwent rapid development. For instance, Simple Love Yogurt got 400 million RMB in financing; Perfect Diary was listed on the stock market, etc.
In such a business environment, embracing digitalization has become a must for many enterprises. In a recent survey on business owners conducted by Zhimeng Consulting and Ocean Engine, 76.7% of enterprise owners believe that “digital marketing” is very necessary. However, many enterprises fail to put it into implementation due to multiple challenges. Nearly 40% of enterprise owners think that the market environment is complex, and they have a lot of worries about the media environment and data environment. 30% think that their organizational system is complicated, so it is difficult to carry out digital transformation; and 25% say that digital transformation puts high requirements on personnel, while they lack such marketing talent. Therefore, although digitization is inevitable, there is still a long way to go. In 2021, we need to rethink what real digitization is and how to take the advantage of online platforms to accelerate the process of digitization.
Enterprises need to understand that digitalization is not a passive reaction to catch up on the trends, but a transformation from the root. To look further, digital transformation means that enterprises, placing customers at the center, change their business models, user experience and operation procedures. They will make full use of the digital platforms, and adapt to the users’ information path and purchase mode in the digital era. This also presents a new way of interaction between customers and products/services.
In the new digital age, we also should rethink the way of brand building. Today, brand owners must give up the old thinking applied in the big industrial era, but keep evolving like many successful Internet enterprises. In the era of big industry, as long as your products had differentiated functions and selling points, plus large-scale media coverage, you were able to make a hit; however, in the digital era, brands should be customer-centered, and pay attention to customer experience and usage scenes, as well as the interaction among relevant cultural circles.
Five Keys to Realize Digitalization
How to achieve better digitization and how to make good use of the digital battlefield in 2021? We need to understand the following five points.
First, there is no more “legendary” marketing; instead, it requires continuous content operation. Today, all marketers dream of “flooding the screens” of the users. We all miss the golden age when a big advertising idea could last for years. But this doesn’t exist any longer. We have entered an era of content operation. A brand should create various and massive stylized content that represents the personality of the brand, and can adapt to a variety of scenes. Only in this way can the brand form a firmer bond with consumers and become more influential. We have moved from the era of “big idea” to “more different creative scenes”.
Second, to “rationally follow-up” instead of “to copy blindly”. Enterprises’ sustainable development can only be achieved through “toughness, concentration and patience”. Many enterprises are tossed back and forth by every new changes or trends. They immediately plunge into it before conducting any study or research, be it a new platform or a new business form. Of course, it is important to know the trend and seize the opportunities. However, just blindly following the trend will lead to problems.
At the time when the digital dividend was prevalent on internet platforms, the opportunists truly made a profit. However, today when the digital dividend is no more, only through long term diligent operation can one reap success. The successful cases on Ocean Engine are those which have found the right direction and platform and carried out long-term operations on it.
Third, deeper operation. The operation begins with studying the users and creating a “1m wide and 1,000m deep” granular economy. Today, there are various ways to reach the consumers and their consumption behaviors are diversified. The brand should know how to deliver their message to the target groups with the fittest discourses so as to enhance its influential power. We have even entered the time of “reverse co-creation”. The business operators get innovative inspirations from consumers and optimize their products accordingly. Again, it’s the time of “granular economy”. We no longer categorize consumers based on their age, gender and occupation. We need to find out their communities and interests, and then reach them and touch them with proper discourses. For instance, mobile phone shell business is quite competitive. Now on TikTok, some enterprises can tailor mobile phone shells for individuals based on the data analysis of the customers’ interests, short video watching history and content browsing history. So the deeper and the more granular business is and the more vertical the business is, more chances will await.
Fourth, interactivity and sense of reality are keys to maintaining customers and attracting new ones. In 2020, selling products on live broadcasting prevailed the internet market. Successful cases were not those who strove to sell at the lowest price, but to bring the brand and products closer to the customers in a sincere way. For example, Lei Jun launched a live streaming broadcast on TikTok last year, making a sales of 2000 million and winning 5 million more fans in 5 days. His live broadcasting was very real, and the products he recommended were what he himself truly thought were good. Afterwards, more people understand how Xiaomi manages to achieve so great a cost performance and how it really thinks for the customers. This is the value of live streaming broadcasting. Of course not every viewer bought the products, but he successfully goes closer to the customers through the live broadcasting and makes more people know Xiaomi better. Liby’s CEO and spokesperson also launched a live broadcasting on TikTok named “CEO’s Choices”. Everyone knows Liby but not everyone uses its products.It won 200 thousand more followers after the broadcasting. This again proves that sense of reality and interaction can help the brand maintain customers and win new ones.
When we find a good marketing platform, we must keep managing it with great efforts. What to manage? Not the information, but the relationship with customers, digital assets and marketing ecology. Ocean Engine has done a lot of work in position operation, and many enterprises who have seized the opportunity keep on operating and managing on this platform and have achieved good results.
Fifthly, the time of making deals has given place to managing relationship. Brand owners must surprise the consumers and empower them. We are all talking about making friends with customers, but most of the time, we still have the tendency to just making deals with customers. How to make friends with them? Hongye, the Founder of a brand called “Hongye Cashmere”, took a team of editors, directors, photographers, copywriters, and operators, and made several high-quality short videos featuring vivid stories and knowledge of cashmere. He also personally replied every consumers’ comments and questions. Because of such sincere services, the company got a repurchase rate of more than 93%. So when we have access to some new digital platforms and new tools, we need to think how to carry out a deeper operation that can really touch and win customers. And this is the value of position operation.
Today, the value of online traffic is further unfolded and has already outweighed offline customer expansion channels. To carry out better operations on the online platform is of great significance in 2021when a further digitalization upgrade approaches. I hope you stand fast in your digital battlefield and achieve greater success.
Mr. Xiao is quite sensitive to the latest social culture, consumption trends, new technology and new media trends. He is known as the “diviner” concerning China’s consumption trends and marketing communications. He combines research tools and methods, and transforms them into strategies that can be used for enterprises’ product development, marketing and brand strategy making. He makes trend predictions, strategy consulting, digital marketing and innovative communication services to international and domestic Top 500 enterprises and media organizations.