First thing you need to know before exporting to China

Oct 13, 2021 | Asian marketing, Cross-border e-commerce, Our Insights

Creating your Chinese brand identity and protecting your intellectual property in China

Chinese chess

The story of New Zealand exporting began in the early 1800s. Since its earliest days, New Zealand has depended on exports for growth and prosperity.

According to Stats NZ, China has been New Zealand’s largest trading partner since 2017. By the end of 2019, twenty-three per cent of New Zealand’s total goods and services exports by value were with China. New Zealand exports to China total $20.1 billion, comprising $16.7 billion in goods and $3.4 billion in services. However, New Zealand brands and businesses are only scratching the surface of potential trading and exporting opportunities with the world’s most populous country.

New Zealand is a nation widely known for its green and natural environment. The country’s destination brand slogan “100% pure” has been successful in promoting that brand image to the world since 1999. New Zealand’s global reputation leaves exporters priceless benefits. How can we protect the reputation and create an advantage from it?

Chinese consumers’ appetite continues to grow for New Zealand made products and services. Many kiwi brands and companies keep a keen eye on the lucrative China market as they see the potential to grasp market shares.

Over the years, we have seen some brave exporters succeed after several twists and turns, some burn their fingers, and others dip their toes in the water and wish for a good win. Chinese consumer market is getting more sophisticated today, and only players with a localised strategy and a long-term growth plan thrive in the market. Are you up for that intense competition?

Although some New Zealand businesses have experienced disruptions in offshore markets due to the impact of COVID-19, there are still opportunities to unlock and penetrate China market. Before you jump into it, think hard and prepare thoroughly.

Here are some questions to consider as you prepare to export to China.

What is the most valuable and vulnerable asset of your brand and business? How can you get the most out of it? How can you protect your brand and reputation?

Create your Chinese brand identity and tailor your brand story

Chinese consumer market is increasingly dynamic, digital and competitive in the post COVID world. It’s not a single market in general but made up of different groups and regions with distinct needs and consumer behaviours.

Chinese shoppers have become increasingly brand conscious and savvy. Unlike consumers elsewhere, they focus on quality, value and instant customer service so that brand loyalty is often minor.

Your brand may be popular in your local market, but Chinese consumers are unlikely to know it at the early stage. Chinese shoppers, especially younger generations, may gradually be familiar with your English brand name, but it takes a long time for you to stand out from the crowd.

Having a Chinese brand name is one of the vital factors for your brand’s destination and success. Sometimes Google or literal translation just doesn’t cut the edge. Seeking professional advice will help you add a cultural touch to your well-established brand.

Moreover, typography and symbolism create a cultural difference, which can be a challenge for your marketing success in China. Your brand identity is the first impression Chinese consumers will have of your brand. Therefore, you should craft your brand identity to visually and emotionally connect with your target audience while staying true to your existing brand essence.

Last but not the least,  you need to refine your brand voice and tailor your brand story. Consumers trust a human being, an authentic and engaging brand story more than a logo. Having consumers attach to your brand through effective brand storytelling drives brand equity and conversion.

Safeguard your intellectual property and register your English and Chinese trademarks

New Zealand’s reputation is a powerful asset, but you should build up your own brand IP, reinforce it, benefit from it, and most importantly, protect it.

Registering your trademark should be at the top of your list as you may not even be able to distribute and sell your products in China if issues happen at the early stage. Among many uncertainties, infringement may be the biggest risk and concern. Even if you are not doing business in China, infringers will try to copy your brand or use your trademarks and sell counterfeiting products.

To protect your brand reputation against piracy and foster consumer trust, New Zealand businesses’ IP and trademarks – in English and Chinese – should be registered in China. Early registration is a key preventive step to mitigate possible trade and legal issues.

For many New Zealand exporters, there are legal barriers and hidden pitfalls through the IP and trademark registration journey in China, e.g. How many classes shall I cover? What are the pros and cons of including more classes in my application?

Registering a trademark takes a longer time than most kiwi exporters can imagine. Cultural and language barriers can often lead to misinterpretation and conflict. We have been helping our clients with IP and trademark registration, branding and eCommerce in China over the years, so we are confident in releasing you from confusion and hassles.

Check out how we helped our clients enter and succeed in China market

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