Compare to Western consumers that initially purchase online for the convenience that e commerce provide, Chinese online users are driven by the experience they get when surfing on the Web. Due to the fact that the longest step in the consumer journey for Chinese consumers is the searching phase, it is the immersion in “a discovery-driven online world” created by certain brands that Chinese consumers increasingly seek (Biggs, Mercier, Wang & Zou, 2017). When they embark in the searching journey, Chinese consumers expect multiple personalise, up to date and customize interactions generated by consumer data with a touch of social connection in order to convince themselves to go deeper and make their choice. Chinese consumers generally use only one channel throughout the consumer journey. In fact, Alibaba, Taobao or Tmall are the ecommerce channel used by them, that provide information from the research phase to the post purchase phase. Alibaba is the third biggest company in the world behind Google and Facebook (Le Belzic, 2014). According to Boston Consulting Group, Chinese social medias have understood the opportunity behind “buy what you see” that immediately merge all steps into one. In fact, XiaoHongShu is the Pinterest of China where you can purchase and buy at the same time instead of using multiple channels as the Western consumers would normally do.
The importance of doing so allows companies to forge loyalty and create a brand community. Brand communities are “specialized, non-geographically bound communities, based on a structured set of social relations among admirers of a brand” (Muniz and O’Guinn, 2001, p.412). Consumers indulging the brands are the source of brand community creation (Fournier and Lee, 2009). Communities actively contribute to the “creation and negotiation of meaning” (McAlexander et al., 2002, p.38). Therefore, consumers join brand communities in order to search for meaning, which help them to determine how they are (i.e. self-concept), how they want to be (i.e. ideal self-concept), and how they really would like to be identified by others (i.e. social self-concept; Laroche et al., 2012). Chinese consumers increasingly seek value and meaning and that is why they actively participate in groups. (Arvidsson, 2006). In fact, they are driven my word of mouth and are active users on social medias. Chinese consumers are unafraid of expressing their opinion on one product or brand and shares pictures or videos in order to feed the forum unlike European consumers.
Multinational companies such as l’Oréal have understood the importance of creating an ultimate experience for their consumers and have invested 15% of its annual budget in digitalisation in order to catch up and be up to date (Fleitour, 2014). It has created Makeup Genius with the Silicon Valley which is a interactive mirror that display a virtual makeup session where the user can directly try on virtually and purchase products as he/she wishes.
Concerning m-commerce, China has 70% of its urban consumers buying through their smartphone. According to Accenture, 4.7 is the average time that a Chinese consumer spend on its device everyday. In 2010, the numbers of Chinese that possessed a smartphone was 80 million. This number was multiplied by 7 in 2013 and is expected to double itself in the 2019. The three main activities that Chinese endorse on their smartphone are listening to music, playing games, browsing web pages and navigating on social media pages (Accenture, 2015).
Mobile technologies in China, specifically social medias, offers a numerous of ubiquitous and engaging activities for the user. It becomes crucial for companies to establish themselves on those social platforms. Social media is used as a mean to overcome authorities and formal institutions as Chinese consumers do not particularly trust those organisations (McKinsey, 2012).
Social media have understood and took action to merge financial transactions to their social platforms. WeChat (Weixin in Chinese) unable mobile payment in order for Chinese consumers to carry out their purchase transaction directly through their smartphones. Mobile payment significantly spur impulsive buying and higher levels of spending.
Mobile payment platforms have revolutionized how consumers in China carry out their purchase transactions. China’s $16 trillion mobile payment market, which represents nearly two thirds (62 percent) of the country’s online spending, is considerably larger than mobile payment markets in the credit and financing products are gaining in popularity, too.
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