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January 30, 2007

EMERGING MARKETS 1: The China Experience

When we quoted recent research by live marketing agency Jack Morton Worldwide last year, which reported 82% of consumers surveyed agreeing that participating in a live event was more engaging than other forms of media, we touched on the point that this study had been carried out globally. Yes, in the expected developed economies of the US, Europe and Australasia, but also in China.

Dig a little deeper into the research, and a whole stack of statistics come to the fore, suggesting live marketing and events are a growing phenomenon in the developing world. Not only that, but consumers in these developing economies – and particularly in China – seem to like experiential marketing even more than their counterparts in developed countries!

A growing influence
“Consumers in China rank experiential marketing as the third most preferred means to learn about products and brands. However, they rank experiential marketing as the most likely to influence behaviour – that’s 38% in China compared to 32% globally,” says Ben Taylor, Jack Morton’s managing director Asia.

“China’s response to experiential marketing is the highest compared to other geographies and highlights its potential,” he continues. “Events took the number one position over all media tested, regardless of the goal. Some 42% of consumers questioned (the most of any region) agreed that events drive purchase consideration.”

Conference call
In terms of employees, China ranks the lowest of all regions, where only 15% said they were satisfied with current internal corporate communications. Live experiences were cited as the number one influencer of behaviour, followed by interaction with a work peer.

“In Shanghai, only 9% of employees were satisfied with current communications, versus Hong Kong (20%) and Beijing (15%),” explains Taylor. “Across China, live experiences were cited as the most influential employee medium. Beijing employees feel most strongly about events: 95% believe participating in an event will give them more information, compared with Hong Kong (86%) and Shanghai (88%).”

And it’s not just China, but across the developing world – Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa – where live marketing is increasingly popular. On reflection, however, this should not really surprise anyone.

“It’s worth noting that throughout Asia ceremonial events have long been popular pieces of communication – whether it’s an event to celebrate a contract signing or the opening of a building, it’s true to say this these types of event occur much more frequently in China,” says Taylor. “ What is changing is the requirement for professional support in making these events communicate key messages in a compelling, creative and flawless way.  A recent example for Jack Morton was the opening of a new plant just outside Shanghai for BASF last month.”

Challenging other media
If Jack Morton’s recent work in China can be taken as a barometer of change, then it’s interesting to note that the company is progressively experiencing more requests from organisations to integrate events with media relations and in some instances above-the-line or promotional activity.

“Effectively, in China, as in other parts of the world,” says Taylor, “events are no longer a tactic in the market, but a critical part of the marketing mix. For example our work with Nokia is in partnership with four other agencies specialising in branding, digital, retail and advertising.”

The really astonishing factor about this revelation is that there are still companies and marketers in developed countries who refuse to welcome live and experiential marketing into the marketing mix. 

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