4 Ways Luxury Brands Can Harness The Power Of China’s Top Search Engine

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Louis Vuitton’s “Brand Zone” that pops up when the label’s name is searched on Baidu.

Optimizing search engine exposure may seem like a daunting task for a brand in any country, and many international companies can be especially unfamiliar with best practices for Chinese searches. A group of marketers from top global brands were recently able to gain a leg up on the competition with regards to Baidu, the world’s number one Chinese search engine, at the end of last June in Paris when they took part in a “Baidu Masterclass” event offered by China Connect, the largest gathering of experts on Chinese consumer trends, marketing, digital, and mobile in Europe.

In a conference entitled China Connect InTheCity, six digital marketing experts, including three Baidu representatives, gathered to share their knowledge of how to best utilize the “entry door” to the Chinese digital ecosystem. Speakers included Kaiser Kuo, Cui Yuhong, and Michael Chen of Baidu, as well as Johnny Zhu of CharmClick, Stanislas de Nervo of Datawords, and Arnaud Rofidal of Altima Asia.

The day was packed with a wealth of information on how to hone in on Baidu’s numerous marketing opportunities. Look below for four key takeaways discussed by the speakers:

Protect your brand. Chen, Baidu’s general manager of key accounts, helps high-end brands combat counterfeiting and fraudulent use of their names online. ”Baidu is working with brand owners to find the easiest way” to protect their copyright on the internet, he said. His advice to foreign brands is to register in-country and understand trademark laws in China before even coming to Baidu to discuss copyright protection. Brands should also consider registering popular search terms that may not be their full name. If the brand has “a very complicated name, people don’t search that,” said Chen. For example, “people search LV, but normally, it should be Louis Vuitton.”

SEO isn’t just for Google. According to Zhu, general manager of CharmClick, the authorized reseller of Baidu advertising in Europe, “No matter what kind of advertiser you are or [what] objectives you have—brand awareness, increase your social voice, or drive conversation, you can leverage various Baidu products.” The search engine giant provides services including Baidu Index (like Google Trends), Baidu Sinan (the opportunity to check daily queries about your brand as well as other terms used by people searching for you), and Baidu Zeitgeist (top overall searches). These products can be utilized for both paid, search term-based advertising, as well as good, old-fashioned search engine optimization (SEO).

When it comes to search term-related ads, think outside the box. Brands must strive to be in tune with the terms most likely to be made by the Chinese consumers who will take the strongest interest in their goods. For example, Zhu states that luxury brands should pay special attention to China-based searches for global travel locations in order to determine how to best promote the brand abroad to prospective Chinese tourists. Below is his list of some of the top searches for foreign locales in the first half of 2012:

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Accommodate users’ main behavior patterns. Chen notes that brands must pay close attention to four main patterns of users’ search behavior, which are represented by the acronym SIVA (solution, information, value, and access). The “solution” search occurs when consumers are attempting to solve a specific problem, “information” searches are those in which users look up a specific brand, “value” searches are conducted to compare and contrast cost and quality of several different brands, and and “access” represents the ease in which consumers are able to gain exposure to the brand. For example, an ad that appears in relation to Mother’s Day-related Baidu queries represents a “solution” response, while Lancôme has been building up its Baidu encyclopedia page to educate users on its brand as part of its “information” strategy. Meanwhile, brands such as Lenovo have utilized a “full-page Q&A” on Baidu Zhidao (Baidu Knows) for price comparisons to respond to users’ value-related questions, and Louis Vuitton’s Baidu “Brand Zone” advertisement is an example of efforts to provide users with the easiest “access” to the brand, including product descriptions, social media links, and a QR code for WeChat access all in one place.

These were just a few of the many points covered throughout the day. For more information, check out a video interview with Baidu International Communications Director Kaiser Kuo below and visit China Connect’s website to learn about similar upcoming events related to digital marketing in China.

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