American brands looking for ideas on how to successfully engage Chinese consumers using social media need look no further than that lovable clown Ronald, of McDonald’s. Not satisfied with dominating the fast food palates of small and big kids globally, Ronald is raising the bar in the one market every self-respecting brand with serious plans for growth has its eye on – China.
Here’s how the clown did it:
- Went to where the customers are: By opening a McDonald’s Super Value Shop on the site that killed eBay China, Taobao.com, McDonalds not only went to where its prospective customers were but it engaged them in an activity they already enjoyed – shopping for bargains online. Being a smart company, McDonald’s did not have people bidding for burgers but instead gave them an opportunity to bid for gadgets they coveted and expected to find on an online auction site like iPods, digital cameras, laptops and even cosmetics.
- Understood its target market’s self-interests and used that to engage them: McDonald’s did its homework and identified the 25-32 age group as the dominant Internet users in China. Having found its audience, McDonald’s went a step further by identifying a self-interest that tied directly to its brand and specifically the Super Value Meals range. The target group had a desire to save money so McDonald’s used appropriate messaging – “McDonald’s offers value for money.” Via its online shop, 100 coveted products would be announced a day prior to bidding opening which meant that users had to check the site for what was coming up and then come back the next day to place their bids. Naturally, once you place a bid, you want to keep checking if your bid was successful and in order to do that you have to keep coming back to the site.
- Kept them coming back for more, again and again: Usually on online auction sites, the seller is looking for the highest bidder. McDonald’s turned that rule on its head and invited users to bid DOWN, right down to the price of its Super Value Meals, about $2.41. Each bid reduced the starting price by just .15c and bidders could bid multiple times subject to five minute intervals between bids – a clever tactic that drove users back to the site repeatedly in the hopes of snagging an iPod or other gadget for just $2.41!
- Gave users something to talk about: There’s one thing bargain hunters love almost as much as bagging a bargain and that’s telling other people about it. The campaign attracted a lot of user-generated ads touting the latest hot items up for grabs each day. The result? Between launch day on 11 February and April 20 2009, the McDonald’s shop had 2,580,000 visitors, viral by any definition of the word.
By clearly identifying its target audience, going to where they are online, tying its brand’s value proposition directly to the target group’s self-interest, giving them a reason to come back repeatedly and giving them something to talk about which resulted in a user-driven viral campaign, McDonald’s shows other brands how to use social media well, not just in China but in general.