The African economy is growing at a very fast rate, at 4.8 percent for 2012. With growth like that, it is understandable that African businesses are also growing rapidly and looking for new consumers for their products and services. Those consumers don’t all have to be from the growing African market place do they?  Exporting is going to be essential for countries to maintain any sort of decent long term growth over them coming decades. Exports are a real reason for the increase to the African continents fortunes. Africa has a lot to offer the world regarding exports, and not just natural resources. The question is, where can its companies look for growth in exports over the next decade? Things like Investment products, furniture and Africa as a holiday destination are all things that the continent can sell into the global marketplace with confidence of having market leading products. When you look at Europe and the USA flat lining it is clear that African companies are going to need to look for fresh pastures over the coming years to export to, and enjoy further increases to their economies growth. China, already a customer for many of Africa’s natural resources is a perfect destination for any African business looking to expand its customer base and increase its share of a global market place.

What Sells In China? 

The question is what doesn’t? There are 94 million Chinese travelling abroad in 2013, so travel is a massive market at the moment, and likely to keep growing considerably. Property investments, as well as other investment products offering a solid return, are being brought up by eager Chinese customers looking to make the most from their new found wealth. Some European countries like Spain and Cyprus are offering citizenship to the EU as an “add on” to the properties brought in order to further tempt investment from affluent Chinese investors. Branded products, (brand building is incredibly important in cracking the consumer market place in China), are in great demand especially for clothing and cosmetic products. The fact is you have over 450 million Chinese with money to spend, and they are looking to buy the same products that your company is selling. It makes sense to let them know this and get them to buy from you.

How Can I Sell Into China?

There are various licences that need to be accrued, and it helps to work alongside an experienced agency to make sure that all paperwork is correctly in place to allow trading into China. The process is not as stipulating as you may think, and there are many foreign businesses already doing business in China, so there is acceptance already that this will increase.

The best way to start your adventure into the Chinese marketplace is to build your brand and authority up online. Online shopping in China is huge, with nearly 1 billion people using the internet to find out information and buy products. China uses a search engine called Baidu, rather than Google, (Google have a small monitored presence in China at the moment), and this is where you will need to be optimised strongly to gain maximum traffic for your business site. A website will have to be built to cater specifically for the Chinese consumer, and be in Mandarin. This can also be arranged through your agency representative. Social media also plays a large role in influencing Chinese consumer’s opinion. Currently 25 percent of the world’s social media users are Chinese, and using Chinese social media platforms. Tencent and Saina Weibo are huge. Tencent has around 800 million users and is accessed on a wide variety of technology, even 2g phones. Sina Weibo is like a Twitter and Facebook amalgamation, and has over 400 million users. It is a very influential marketing platform and would have to be incorporated in any online promotional strategy alongside Baidu. There are also other social media platforms split amongst different demographics that can offer very specific marketing opportunities for companies.

To enter the Chinese market successfully a strong online marketing presence is essential. The good thing is it can be run from where you are currently doing business now. This means you are not having to worry about setting up offices abroad, or having to deal with any more logistical headaches than arranging effective courier cover to the Chinese mainland. For those who are worried about brand protection, (there are well documented copying issues within China), it may be a good idea to partner with existing distributers who can offer protection to your product, and allow you to sell your product into their existing market place, (think of it like an affiliate marketing model).

Supporting your Chinese customers is important, and that can come from Mandarin speakers based at your companies location, or within a Chinese office if you want, at times that are friendly to those customers. Nine till five African time will not match the working day of the person buying your products in China. Effective support is very important to the Chinese consumers you will looking to sell to. A strong action plan, devised with an experienced agency will make sure that you are able to give yourself the best chance of success, and cover the bases required to deliver a decent service to those who will be buying from you.

What Are You Waiting For Africa?

There are hundreds of companies every year looking to tap into the richness of the Chinese economy. The time is right now, to grow your brand authority and set your products and services up to stay ahead of any of your global competitors, and make sure your company growth increases dramatically from 2013 onwards. An effective internet marketing campaign can allow you to tap into this huge consumer market place from where you are currently doing business. This allows you to build your brand up in China with the minimum of infrastructure challenges. It also gives you a huge brand footprint in the second biggest global economy. Can you also move into other emerging economies like India, Brazil or the Philippines, (a country that is currently smashing its own growth forecasts), through effective internet marketing a strong web based presence in those markets? The answer is yes, but that is another story…

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