Not until recent years has the idea of “the customer is always right” been fully embraced. Especially in China, this phenomenon is now booming and we are now putting customers first.
In light of these changes, I decided to examine three industries to show how Chinese brands are evolving to capitalize on this trend and compete in the digital era.
Before the digital era, innovation was driven by market feedback after a product launched. Today, smart manufacturers involve customers from the very beginning. By working with them closely, businesses are able to anticipate consumer needs..
Take smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi, for example which succeeds because it places customers at the center of their market research. When Xiaomi designs new products, it works with consumers, to obtain feedback and use these opinions to refine the design.
They encourage users to share their good and bad thoughts on forums, and they take them seriously. Feedback sessions are structured, open, honest and useful—leading to actionable changes.
According to a survey conducted by China Internet Network Information Center, 70% of Chinese consumers shop online and the number is increasing. This is a growing concern for retailers and owners of physical stores. In response, many retailers have shifted focus and are now building distinctive experiences that seamlessly connect with consumers (online).
Suning is a prime example of a company that adapted it’s business strategy. At the same time, they were able to keep the brand story intact, thus meeting the the expectations of Chinese consumers.
Recently, Suning opened a concept store and launched the new slogan “Enrich life through experience.” In the store, customers can experience advanced technology, such as The Internet of Things (IOT) and their own type of “smart home.” This allows the customer to experience what the future could be—it’s compelling and on brand. Suning has changed the game for retailers and costumers, creating a store that is dynamic and ahead of the curve.
The logistics industry is young but competitive in China. The emergence of the internet and big data has created opportunities to provide better logistics experiences to consumers.
Ma Yun, the founder of Alibaba group, recently announced the launch of his new company, Cainiao which aims to fundamentally alter the way companies operate today. By integrating big data and resources, Cainiao is able to monitor and control the amount of cargo in every city. This guarantees product delivery within 24 hours for 2,000 cities in China.
Thanks to recent technological advancements, Chinese consumers are experiencing brands in a new way. Brands that are smart have already taken the necessary steps to deliver better experiences by providing simpler and smarter business models and systems that put consumers in the center. I look forward to seeing more brands follow suit.
Michael Chen is an analyst at the Siegel+Gale Shanghai office