How Can Brands Use China’s Media Landscape To Their Advantage?

Leverage Domestic Chinese Media For Maximum Impact

90 percent of China's billionaires plan to send their children overseas to study

Luxury brands are actively seeking to attract and engage Chinese consumers as they continue to venture abroad for education, investment, business opportunities… and shopping.

The volume of international travel from China – on track to exceed 80 million travelers in 2012 – as well as the unprecedented growth in big-ticket spending, makes this novel audience an attractive target. Winning the hearts and minds of these new customers, however, is far from foreordained.

Since the turn of the millennium – a blink of an eye, in China’s long history – we have witnessed the development of an uncommonly brand-conscious incarnation of the luxury consumer. In this supercharged environment, leveraging targeted media exposure to ensure that your brand is top-of-mind is of crucial importance.

The New Players

A jumble of new Chinese-language publications has disrupted the traditional travel media establishment, breaking down into three main categories:

1.) Travel-focused media (mainly based in Mainland China) providing information, advice and ideas in advance of an overseas trip. We are also seeing an upsurge of travel and destination-related inserts in existing luxury-focused publications.

2.) Chinese-language publications with impact during the process of travel: in-flight magazines, embassy publications, VIP lounge, etc.

3.) Publications that target Chinese tourists and other travelers at their destinations.

Vogue China still bursts at the seams with advertisements

Don’t Ignore Online Media

When evaluating the landscape, pay attention to online travel media. China’s luxury consumer is far younger than those of most other countries – the average Chinese millionaire is 37, compared to 55 in the West. Chinese consumers are far more active and engaged online and via mobile than their Western counterparts.

Online platforms and presence must be an integral component of any media strategy in China, including in a travel context.

Getting Your Hands Dirty

Brands may employ both PR and advertising strategies to reach this category of media, but any strategy needs to be evaluated in the context of a given brand’s existing awareness in China and overall PR and advertising scope in the Mainland.

Media relations in China are challenging and time-consuming – some might say messier – than in other markets, frequently devolving into a pay-to-play situation. Chinese media operate differently than in most other countries, with low levels of transparency and opaque advertising rates. Investments in PR and advertising should be weighed carefully from an ROI perspective.

The unavoidable fact is that no amount of travel media advertising can trump an already strong brand perception and awareness in China. Opportunities to target specific travel media should be evaluated in the overall context of each brand’s unique situation.

Do you need to learn more about the Chinese travel media landscape? Join China Luxury Advisors and Jing Daily for a workshop in New York on October 24th: Chinese Travel Media: Navigating the Landscape.

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