Online marketing is developing rapidly thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, Mainland Chinese company Ningbo Lido Outdoor & Leisure Products Co Ltd received lighting orders worth nearly RMB350,000 from a Spanish buyer through the upgraded hktdc.com Sourcing platform.
- Mainland Chinese company Ningbo Lido Outdoor & Leisure Products Co Ltd received lighting orders worth nearly RMB350,000 from a Spanish buyer through the upgraded hktdc.com Sourcing platform.
- The company actively combines offline and online marketing strategies by participating in the HKTDC Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair and placing advertisements in HKTDC’s product magazines, as well as joining the Canton Fair and other overseas exhibitions.
- hktdc.com Sourcing brings together more than 130,000 suppliers and two million buyers and establishes over 24 million business connections every year. Currently, 30-plus Mainland Chinese provinces and cities have dedicated webpages on the platform, which help them secure overseas orders.
“The pandemic has had a tremendous negative impact on our customers’ retail businesses. As a result, we have received a lot less orders from customers who have bricks-and-mortar shops and that leaves us with no choice but to further develop our online business,” says Angela Qiu, general manager of Ningbo Lido Outdoor & Leisure Products.
“Since 2014, we have participated in trade events, including the HKTDC Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair. Recently, we have increased our promotion on the upgraded hktdc.com Sourcing platform and shortly after, we secured a new business deal with an overseas buyer via the platform. It was very effective.”
Qiu believes that in the post-pandemic era, companies need to be extra agile and flexible and have online and offline marketing strategies that complement each other, as these will help them in exploring new business opportunities.
A Mainland Chinese brand going global
Founded in Ningbo City of Zhejiang Province in 2007, Lido first began as an original equipment manufacturer and engaged in the import and export of lighting products for outdoor recreational use. In recent years, the company has repositioned itself and launched its own brand, qqyconcept, which mainly offers lighting products for outdoor recreational use and solar chargers. At present, 70 per cent of Lido’s orders come from Europe, 20 per cent from the US and the rest are from the domestic market and other markets. The company has an annual export sale of close to RMB45m.
It has never been easy for Mainland Chinese companies to break into the international market. For Lido, Qiu says her company’s strategy is to exhibit in trade fairs held in Mainland China and Hong Kong. “As our scopes of business continue to expand, we participate in international trade fairs, including the HKTDC Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair, where we introduce our brand to overseas buyers.”
Implementing offline and online marketing, undertaking digital transformation
The pandemic has not only caused trade events and exhibitions to go digital, but has also driven companies to undertake digital transformation starting with their marketing strategies. “Physical exhibitions enable us to have face-to-face communication with customers and show them our products, so that they can hold the products in their hands and have a better understanding of them. Although we can’t do the same with online exhibitions, we can use innovative ways to promote the products. Customers can also browse the products whenever they want and wherever they are,” says Qiu. “This shows that we need both offline and online marketing strategies. They are equally indispensable.”
However, Qiu admits that her company is inexperienced in digitalisation. To make up for the lack of digital expertise, Lido has been using the hktdc.com Sourcing platform since 2010 to strengthen its online marketing strategies. “We don’t want to lag behind others in the digital era, for which traffic is king,” she says.
“The upgraded platform is more complete and personalised. Apart from introducing an operational concept that makes it perform even more like an e-commerce website, the platform also features image editing and preview functions to show how our store page looks before and after adding or editing the product photos. This allows us to see ourselves from our clients’ perspective, so that we can browse our page in a more all-compassing and subjective way and can adjust our online marketing strategies accordingly. The platform also helps us gain more exposure by presenting our products on our own page and other thematic pages in a style that resembles a window display.”
Dedicated webpages for Mainland Chinese provinces and cities to win overseas orders
Currently, more than 30 Mainland Chinese provinces and cities — Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Fujian, Hunan, Hubei, Inner Mongolia, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Shandong and Guangxi, to name a few — have their own dedicated webpages on hktdc.com Sourcing. Their products, including medical and anti-epidemic supplies, consumer electronics, lighting products, garments, houseware, giftware and food, are being promoted on the platform, which attract the interest of buyers from Europe, the US and other markets. hktdc.com Sourcing brings together more than 130,000 suppliers and two million buyers and establishes over 24 million business connections every year.
Qiu shares that Lido has recently secured a business deal with a Spanish buyer through hktdc.com Sourcing. “We have received orders from Spain before through participating in the HKTDC Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair. This time we were connected with another Spanish buyer through the online business matching feature on hktdc.com Sourcing,” she says. “The buyer found our headlights and camping lights to be a good value for money. So, shortly after we started negotiating, this buyer already decided to place a RMB150,000 order for 12,000 headlights and a RMB190,000 order for 6,000 camping lights. I believe that if the co-operation goes well, the client will be happy to purchase other outdoor lighting accessories from us.”
Looking forward, Qiu thinks that by implementing online and offline marketing strategies, companies will be able to promote their products in a much more efficient way. However, besides clever strategies, brands also need to remember why they started their businesses in the first place, have an effective product positioning and satisfy customers’ needs, so that they will have a firm footing in the market and a bright future.