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Ecommerce Redefining Customer Experience in China, Says Epsilon Research

Research report 'The Always-On Chinese Consumer' finds keys to consumer engagement in a maturing, e-commerce driven market
2016-01-18 09:00 3554

HONG KONG, Jan. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Epsilon, the global leader in turning data-driven marketing into lasting relationships, has completed its second market research study on the habits of Chinese consumers. Epsilon's report, "The Always-On Chinese Consumer," examined how China's consumers engage with brands across numerous touchpoints and channels. The data and analysis describe the detailed preferences of consumers who are active in exploring, understanding and affiliating with brands.

This Fall 2015 survey, with Epsilon probing Chinese consumer interactions with brands, factors for satisfaction with brands, and responses to good and bad brand experiences. The top trend: interactions with eCommerce sites have become so frequent and so satisfying, that Chinese consumers seem to be redefining their expectations of all brands relative to their eCommerce experiences.

The extent to which eCommerce sites have become integrated into daily life is revealed by responses about the brands consumers interact most with: in the top spot, Taobao (19%) and in third place, JD.com (12%). Interestingly, the second more interacted brand is Apple (13%): in Epsilon's Spring 2015 loyalty survey, Apple was the brand to which the most Chinese consumers were loyal. Chinese consumers also reported that they interact regularly with an average of 3.4 different eCommerce brands, and that they consider "always available" as the top factor in brand satisfaction. One key takeaway the study offers for marketers: "Be available, be consistent, be fun."

While eCommerce sites are influential in creating consumer expectations, they represent just one of the many touchpoints for brand interaction. The study found that consumers carry out relationships with their favorite brands across multiple channels. Vivien Deng, Director Client Services, China at Epsilon, says, "To achieve sustainable gains in the China market, brands need to offer enhanced consumer experience through the right channels. Chinese consumers want to feel a personal connection with their favorite brands on multiple levels."

Those channels range from traditional ones including in-store, email, and website; to branded mobile apps and WeChat service accounts. The study found that channel usage varies by consumer segment and sector. Depending on the sector, a high income consumer might use as many as nine to twelve channels, mostly digital, in interacting with a favorite brand. For clothing, grocery, and appliances -- or for luxury in Tier 2 cities -- in-store is still the most important channel. Meanwhile, the company website, in both mobile and desktop versions, is still very important to consumers across sectors. Since each group differs in the way they use channels at different stages of the consumer journey -- research, purchase, and post-purchase engagement -- marketers need to have the data and insights to plan an effective channel strategy.

Epsilon also found that consumers in China are highly social in their responses to brand experience. Dominic Powers, Epsilon's Executive Vice President and Managing Director, International, summarizes, "Chinese consumers, who browse and buy from world-class eCommerce companies all day and get up close to brands at shopping malls by night, expect easy access to products and terrific service. Yet they are very satisfied customers who are enthusiastic about engagement, and a phenomenal source of Word-of-Mouth." According to the study, a positive brand experience would motivate 60% of consumers in China to share the good news in at least eight ways: sharing with family and friends through social media and other channels; researching to learn more about the brand; opening more channels for contact -- WeChat, mobile app, Weibo, email; and posting positive comments online. Based on the report findings, brands accustomed to more protective or private consumer cultures are urged to consider one-to-one marketing programs in China.

"The Always-On Chinese Consumer" highlights the importance of giving Chinese customers a sense of voice within their peer group: sixty-four percent of respondents picked "my friends also interact with the brand," as a factor in brand satisfaction. Marketers who excel at creating campaigns that generate buzz, that invite consumers into a movement, and that invite customers to leave comments online, will do well in China.

Overall the report emphasizes the importance of creating, for the channels most important to each sector and segment, a presence that feels like a connection. One recommendation is that, rather than investing in every channel where your customers might encounter your brand, focus on using something fun, at the key touchpoints, to invite Chinese consumers to share, discuss, critique or rave.

For the full report "The Always-On Consumer," click here.

About Epsilon

Epsilon is the global leader in creating connections between people and brands. An all-encompassing global marketing company, we harness the power of rich data, groundbreaking technologies, engaging creative and transformative ideas to get the results our clients require. Recognized by Ad Age as the #1 World CRM/Direct Marketing Network, #1 U.S. Digital-Agency Network and #1 U.S. Agency from All Disciplines, Epsilon employs over 7,000 associates in 70 offices worldwide. Epsilon is an Alliance Data company.

Epsilon International is an operating unit of Epsilon, with local offices in Australia, mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Singapore, U.K., France, Germany and Ireland. For more information, visit http://www.epsilon.com, follow us on Twitter @EpsilonAPAC or email to apac-info@epsilon.com.

Media Contact:

Rickie Hobbie
Epsilon
Rickie.hobbie@epsilon.com
+852-3589-0717

Source: Epsilon International
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