Western brands invest heavily in digital to capture Chinese market

Johnson & Johnson and BMW are putting more resources online as consumer preferences shift.

No longer relying on a logo alone

No longer relying on a logo aloneĀ Image: Toby Jagmohan

Chinese consumers are amongst the most tech-savvy shoppers in the world and Western heavyweights are looking to capitalise on their engagement.

FMCG giant Johnson & Johnson is pivoting towards the digital sphere, while BMW is moving away from marketing its status and more towards its tech credentials in a bid to woo Chinese consumers.

BMW has long relied on its prestige to influence consumers. However, younger consumers, quicker to compare costs, features and benefits online, are less impressed by brand alone. A recent survey of more than 3,000 consumers showed they valued innovation and sustainability over owner a widely-recognised status symbol.

As a result BMW's China CEO Karsten Engel has pledged to increase digital spend in a bid to impress China's next generation of car buyers.

Johnson & Johnson, already well established in China, has previously relied on outdoor advertising and a strong TV presence to influence shoppers. In 2013, the US company spent just 15% on digital marketing. By the end of 2015 it expects the number to be closer to 40%.

While the firm has not yet shunned TV commercials, it is embracing digital storytelling, selective product placement and capturing primed consumers. For example, most pregnant women will have to visit the hospital 12 times before giving birth, so Johnson & Johnson rolled out free Wi-Fi in hospital waiting rooms.

According to a recent report from Kline, a strong online presence is essential for lubricants marketers, especially for high-end brands selling API SM and service. Even if consumers do not actually purchase the lubricant online, they will search familiar e-commerce sites to compare prices, reviews and purchasing options.