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Chinese Social Media Users: Can We Be Frands?



ogilvyoneDespite the government’s alleged attempts to control Internet usage in China, social media continues to flourish in the country and that’s good news for anyone with a product to sell.

According to the new “OgilvyOne Connected” report, 1 in 4 social media users in China is an “initiator,” a member of the “cool group” who is capable of swaying public opinion with their views on products or people. This number is huge, given that in offline marketing, only 1-2% of consumers fall into this category.

The study further goes on to say that users not only tolerate marketing online but that they actually enjoy the process of learning about new products and sharing them with others. Said one respondent, “Great products and services bring people joy and happiness. This is something that can be shared among friends.”

What’s even bigger news for brand marketers is that they no longer have to find an “initiator” to spread the word about their products. Now all they need to do is agree to be “frands,” the term OgilvyOne coined to describe that special combination of brand and friend.

According to Chris Reitermann, President of OgilvyOne China & Ogilvy & Mather Group Shanghai,

“In China, social media users are generally highly engaged with brands. They see brands and the discussion of them as an integral part of their ‘social network’. And with one in every four users ‘creating’ influence and waiting to be inspired, the economics of prioritizing and investing in the Initiators is more attractive than ever.”

How are users interacting with their new frands?

  • 71% are watching commercials on video sharing sites such as Youku
  • 51% are downloading branded applications to their phones
  • 43% are ‘friending’ brands
  • 21% are making and sharing videos about products or brands.
  • Only 24% of the people who responded to the poll said they didn’t want to interact with brands online.

Though “OgilvyOne Connected” was designed for use by brand marketers in China, there are lessons here for marketers all over the globe. The most important message in the report is the section that reminds marketers not to try and control consumer behavior. Instead, brands need to provide interactive, creative and content rich media that can be easily shared across all of the popular social outlets. In other words, build it and your frands will come.

You can download the full report at: http://www.ogilvy.com/On-Our-Minds/Articles/July-2010-The-OgilvyOne-Connected-Report.aspx.