Owning a slice of real estate in Canada is a dream for many people across the globe — and Chinese people are no exception. Real estate provides a great return on investment — and they are willing to spend the money (when the project is positioned well), making them a great marketing target for luxury townhomes and condos.
Chinese culture regards owning property as a sign of wealth and high social status that provides more opportunities. Additionally, many Chinese parents send their children overseas to attend university, and owning a home provides a place for them to stay as well as additional income after they graduate.
There are many developers and projects available that are competing for the attention of this audience, knowing they are willing to buy. However, to resonate with a Chinese audience involves a different approach to marketing than in North America, and there are a few dos and don’ts to consider which shouldn’t be ignored.
At Periphery, we know our stuff when it comes to marketing real estate to Chinese audiences. Check out these 7 tips to get you started.
1. Incorporate Chinese Language & Culture in Your Ads
The difference in languages is a barrier to global real estate trade. Fortunately, you can breach this barrier by using translation services to design your ads and marketing campaigns in Simplified and Traditional Chinese (not Google Translate — you will miss the mark on cultural fluency and subtle nuances, and your strategy will backfire). It will ensure your ads resonate with your target audience, consequently increasing your chances of attracting and converting the right leads.
It is also advisable to occasionally incorporate hints of Chinese culture and symbolism in your ads. For example, incorporating red as the background color will appeal to Chinese audiences, as red is associated with good luck. You can also increase your audience by marketing during Chinese public holidays, such as Chinese New Year.
2. Scout on Chinese Social Media (WeChat and Weibo)
Much like the rest of the world, Chinese people spend a lot of time on social media. However, due to the Great Firewall, they aren’t able to access social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube and instead spend their time on WeChat and Weibo, which register up to 1.2 billion and 530 million monthly active users respectively.
WeChat is an excellent platform for connecting with buyers. The platform is versatile and used for many functions, business and pleasure alike, for sharing photos, live video streams, 3D tours, taking payments, and booking taxis to name just a few.
There are millions of prospective buyers on Chinese social media, but you have to get them to notice you among the noise. As such, it is advisable to study their platforms and develop a strategy similar to the ones you apply on Facebook and other social media platforms — e.g. hone in on a target audience and create a customer persona, determine content topics and cadence, budget for paid ads, media buys on relevant publications, etc.
3. Sign Up on Chinese Real Estate Platforms
You can also acquire a more direct audience by being active on Chinese real estate platforms. For example, fang.com is an incredibly popular and robust real estate platform that gets millions of monthly visits.
There are as many real estate agents on these platforms as there are buyers. As such, you will need to stand out and impress your audience by developing a robust and appealing profile with attractive listings. It is also advisable to link your profiles to your WeChat page and other marketing channels for a wider reach.
4. Develop an Attractive Chinese Website
Fraud is rife in the global real estate markets, and there are many cons targeting unsuspecting wealthy Chinese buyers. It is important to be (and appear) credible in every way possible, including having a professional website that demonstrates cultural fluency in Chinese language.
Your potential clients will want to learn more about what you have to offer beyond your listings on social media and real estate forums. They expect to find a website containing comprehensive information about amenities, neighbourhood and transportation options, and of course, pricing. If you wanted to go above and beyond, you could hire or contract out a Chinese-speaking representative to make answering questions and closing deals that much more seamless.
5. List on Chinese Search Engines
China also has its own search engine called Baidu. Baidu is China’s most popular search engine at 560 million monthly active users and accounts for more than 75% of all online searches in China. It is especially popular with real estate investors from the mainland. However, it is also just as complex as Google, and you will need to be competitive and ensure your site is optimized for the search engine to get noticed among millions of other real estate listings, developers, and agents.
Baidu ranks websites based on a set of criteria, similar to how Google ranks sites on its search engine results page. The idea is to make your website informative and user-focused. You can also use pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaigns similar to those available through Google Ads.
6. Out-of-Home Media in Relevant Locations
Traditional marketing isn’t completely passe — out-of-home media marketing is still very effective, and it works best if you know where to buy the right placements that are likely to be seen by Chinese audiences.
7. Be Thorough, Presentable, & Patient
Many Chinese real estate buyers are very thorough and cautious, additionally, the buying cycle is usually a longer one due to the hoops international buyers have to jump through. As with any large, expensive purchases, ensuring it fits your needs in every way will be top of mind and so it is paramount to present information in your marketing materials that you want your audience to understand in a clear, professional and easily digestible manner.
Be detailed about your properties – this requires a delicate balance of being honest while still highlighting the value of your project, or else you will disappoint and lose your audiences. To take it a step further, you can give your audiences virtual tours of the property and be available to take questions and make clarifications.
While marketing strategies are different between North American and Chinese audiences, it is possible to turn your leads into conversions with the right platforms and tactics. We hope these 7 tips will give you somewhere to begin.
However, we do understand breaking into a new market can take lots of time and resources, as well as trial and error until things begin working as planned.
At Periphery Digital, we’re experienced in helping our real estate clients market their projects to Chinese audiences. We know what works and what doesn’t, so you can get the best ROI for your advertising dollars. Developing customized, end-to-end strategies and execution is what we do on a daily basis, and our results speak for themselves. Get in touch to learn more about our services.