I can hardly believe how quickly 2018 has flown by! As Christmas approaches, I’d like to thank our clients, partners and friends for their continued support over the last twelve months.
What’s been happening at Emerging Communications?
Last Christmas we had 13 people in our London offices, since then we have more than doubled in size and we are still looking to expand our team further going into 2019, which, with the current political climate surrounding work visas is no mean feat! As I write this, we are on the hunt for office space, having outgrown our Henrietta Street premises pretty much as soon as we’d moved in.
It was my great pleasure this year to spend a lot more time with our China team delivering media events and market research as well as enjoying our new Shanghai space.
This year we have responded to changing client demands and upcoming market trends by expanding our account management team, as well as reinforcing our company infrastructure both in the UK and in Shanghai. We have also added a number of new roles to our team including a full-time KOL Planner, a Project Manager, Group Account Director and a Researcher for the consultancy team.
Word of EC’s strategic prowess has swept across the UK and our consultancy division has been inundated with standalone projects on top of the work they do to continuously support our existing clients. In 2018 we have invested deeply in growing and strengthening our consultancy team and have seen fantastic results from each of the projects they’ve delivered.
I started Emerging Comms three years ago with a firm belief that the UK market was in dire need of education and training around China and Chinese Marketing and many of you will have met us at speaking events, masterclasses or workshops. We have received incredible feedback from our attendees and we aim to create more specialist workshops and cultural training sessions in 2019.
Although this has been an incredibly busy year for everyone, we have made time to celebrate our achievements and share in great moments together. It has been amazing to see all the personal growth of our EC team this year and to see the wonderful relationships our account management team have with our clients. Talented and happy staff are the soul and driving force of EC and as we grow, we are making sure that our core values are instilled in each of our teams no matter the distance between offices!
China Changes we’ve seen in 2018
The Chinese market always changes quickly but this year we have seen a phenomenal number of breakthrough trends and consumer changes. Chinese mobile payments are not only becoming a standard for retailers in Europe but are also providing new spaces for marketing activity and engagement. In China, we have also seen smaller cities such as Hangzhou overtake Shanghai and Beijing as 2nd tier city consumers drive online consumption. The trend of Social-Commerce in China continues and new players such as Bytedance have grown almost overnight to challenge Tencent and Sina for their share of the social media landscape. This year has also seen the rise of the Chinese brand and the fall from grace of several global luxury giants which will increase pressure on foreign brands to invest in innovation, localisation and most importantly understanding the Chinese consumer, in order to compete in market.
At EC we have long talked about the importance of ‘invisible’ inbound consumers such as the 100,000+ Chinese students and 500,000+ British expats living in the UK. In 2018 we have seen brands finally developing independent strategies and channels for the inbound market rather than relying on Chinese channels.
Universities continue to be at the forefront when it comes to engaging with Chinese consumers, which is hardly a surprise when you consider that 1 in 5 international students at UK universities is Chinese. However, this year we have seen a change in attitude among Chinese students looking to study abroad and it is the universities which invest in a strategy, focused around pastoral care and student experiences, that are seeing the most growth. In 2019 China will also be an increasingly important market for colleges and high schools, according to British Council data 20% of parents interviewed were planning to send their children abroad for high school or pre-university education.
Our Predictions for 2019
- Competition will continue to heat up in China and overseas as increasing number of brands tap into the market and Chinese consumers feel the pressure of the current economic slowdown back home.
- China will continue to encourage brand imports and cross-border e-commerce (great news for small brands) and put actions in place to fight grey market sales (bad news for some brands).
- KOLs will increasingly be used as creatives, co-branding opportunities and consultants for brands, not just as an extended media space with brands trying to balance true localisation with brand heritage and guidelines.
- With mainstream channel reach dipping, real market research and understanding as a basis of channel planning should start to overtake the current ‘channel first’ approach of many foreign brands.
- Millennial mindsets in China mean that sustainability, animal rights, diversity and equality will increasingly impact Chinese consumption and brand affinity.
- As white-collar workers look to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities for increased quality of life, spending power and consumption upgrades will continue to make smaller cities much more attractive for international brands.
I’d like to give a great big thank you to all of you who have supported Emerging Communications this year as well as to the wonderful Emerging Communications staff who have made all this possible.
I look forward to catching up with many of you in the New Year and wish you all the best for 2019!