Understanding WeChat critical to success in Chinese e-commerce, expert says

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Social media, Need

Exporters of dietary supplements into China need to be familiar with that country's dominant WeChat social media platform if they want to thrive, an industry association executive said.

Jeff Crowther, executive director of the US-China Health Products Association, said it’s hard to comprehend the reach of WeChat when looking at it from a Western perspective. In the West, social media activity is now ubiquitous, and runs on many different platforms. News feeds on mobile phones, posts on Instagram and Twitter, sharing and rating platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor—the list goes on and seems to grow by the week.

Reach unlike anything in West

Then there’s the first and by far the biggest social media platform—Facebook. And of course there’s Amazon, which dominates the online retailing of all sorts of goods. But even with those companies’ tremendous influence and reach it is really nothing compared to what WeChat enjoys within China, now the world’s largest market for many CPG products.

Crowther, who spoke with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent GOED Exchange meeting in Seattle, said almost anything a consumer would want to do online within China is facilitated by WeChat.

“WeChat encompasses everything that a consumer is used to in the West. You can utilize it for business, you can use it to chat with your friends. You can use it to get movie tickets, train tickets, you can use it to pay your utilities. It’s quite extensive and amazing and always evolving,​ he said.

“At the association, through our WeChat, we share lots of industry information,​ Crowther said. “We have a lot of companies in the industry in China that follow us who want to see news on the industry from an international perspective.

In addition to sharing information and facilitating online banking and bill paying, Crowther said the platform is also a place where lots of goods are bought and sold.

“Companies use WeChat to promote their products and pull consumers in, whether it's to bricks and mortar, to their own e-commerce platforms or directly to their WeChat store,​ he said. “It’s quite a good tool to use key opinion leaders in the fitness or health industry to get your brand out there.

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