Icon, one of Australia’s leading integrated communications agencies, yesterday launched Icon China, a new Chinese-focussed capability. The offering is in partnership with Strategic Public Relations Group (SPRG), Asia’s largest independent PR agency.

China is set to become Australia’s top tourist market, and commerce between the two nations has increased exponentially over the past decade. Australia exports more than $90 billion of goods and services to China every year. 

Icon identified a need for seamless cross-border services that are essential for Chinese companies wanting to thrive in Australia, and Australian companies seeking to enter the Chinese market.

The official launch of Icon China at the Australia Chinese Business Council (ACBC) in Melbourne included a special presentation and panel discussion led by Joanne Painter, Icon's Group Managing Director, and Shufen Tan, General Manager at SPRG. Taking The Tiger By The Tail: How to reach the Chinese consumer in today’s multi-channel marketplace provided valuable knowledge on how multi-channel marketing and PR can bridge cultures and build businesses. 

Shufen explained the complex Chinese media landscape, noting that even for a Communist country, commercial media enjoys relative freedom.

When it comes to how the Chinese consume news, digital is now in charge. Here’s a snapshot of the country’s key digital statistical indicators:

  • China has a population of 1.379 billion
  • Of this, 680 million are active internet users
  • 653 million are active social media users
  • 577 million are active mobile social users.

In comparison to Australia:

  • Australia has a population of 24 million
  • Of this, 21.2 million are active internet users
  • 14 million are active social media users
  • 13 million are active mobile social users.

Chinese consumers rely heavily on social media to discover and research brands, and mobile phones feature social apps such as WeChat, Weibo, QQ Messenger, QZone and Baidu Tieba. Any brand that wants to reach Chinese customers needs to understand how specific social media channels in China work.

Highlighting Jessica Rudd as an Australian entrepreneur who has successfully cracked the Chinese market with her retail eCommerce store, 'Jessica’s Suitcase', Shufen attributed her success to Jessica's decision to move to Beijing and immerse herself in the culture, as well as leveraging Australia’s ‘clean and green’ image which appeals to Chinese consumers.

Joanne engaged the attendees with her presentation on how best to reach Chinese consumers in a multichannel marketplace. Jo highlighted cross-border opportunities driven by eCommerce between Australia and China, referring to the following statistics and insights:

  1. China’s eCommerce sector will surpass RMB 6.5 trillion by December 2016
  2. Demand for Australian food, beverage and health products is at an all-time high among Chinese online shoppers
  3. China has now surpassed the USA as Australia’s #1 foreign investor in property, splashing out $24 billion in 2014/2015 
  4. Tourism and leisure generated $8.3 billion in total expenditure for 2015
  5. In 2016, 50,000 Chinese students started courses in Australian universities, colleges and schools, a 23% increase on 2015 making students from China more important than ever to the booming education export industry.

Communicating in China is not just about translation; it is about culture and understanding. Market entry strategies are now multi-cultural and multi-faceted, and building cultural intelligence is key. As the Chinese online world is an increasingly influential driver of consumer behaviour, it is important that businesses understand the varied social media platforms to connect with Chinese consumers in both Australia and China. 

A panel discussion featuring Mr Steven Foo, Head of Asia Business Development in Australia Post’s Parcels Services Business, Mr George Wang, CEO of GOME Australia, Shufen Tan, General Manager of SPRG, and Icon's Joanne Painter.

Icon China uses its expertise in pubic relations, digital and creative services to provide culturally attuned communications and essential cross-border capabilities for Chinese companies wanting to thrive in Australia and Australian companies seeking to enter the Chinese market.