Branding in China: the media platforms reaching 1.3 billion consumers
Written by the China Knowledge Press
In the late 70s to early 80s, advertising in China slowly started to increase. Before that time, although it was never official banned, advertising tended to blend into the background. There were three main factors that contributed to the advertising explosion: The first factor was a shift in ideology. Instead of viewing advertising as a western evil present only in a capitalistic market, the Chinese began to embrace the idea that advertising could increase sales. The second factor was a shift in the economic system. Before the early 80s, the majority of the buying for the country was centralized. Once people were able to make purchases individually, new product demands increased. The final factor was a shift in focus from China being a heavy industry producer to one of producing consumer products.
Over the last 30 years, advertising in China has developed as producers seek the benefits in advertising to 1.3 billion consumers. However, advertisers wishing to push their products in the country do face challenges from prohibited messages and restrictions. For example, advertisements with the following are prohibited: activities that are contrary to Chinese social and cultural beliefs, superlatives such as "highest level", "best", or "number one", and use of the national flags, emblems, or government entities. These and other restrictions must be considered when advertisers embark on an ad campaign. Sometimes, even if advertisers follow all of the Chinese restrictions, some western advertisers find themselves forced to pull advertisements and make a formal apology because the ads disgraced the Chinese people's strong cultural values.
Reaching 1.3 billion customers is seen mainly thru advertising in outdoor, print, television, and Internet mediums. However one size does not fit all with advertising campaigns. People in urban settings have different purchasing abilities than people in rural settings. In addition, the most effective medias differ from one city to the next and some bigger cities have adapted more western preferences than others. All of these factors and more contribute to the challenging advertising opportunities available in China. But, with such a large consumer base, those that do have successful advertising campaigns can make millions.