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Global brands face content conundrum in China

The presence of firewalls in China appears to be having little impact on the country’s Internet usage, if a new UN Broadband Commission report is any indication. This study projects Chinese Internet users will surpass today’s 565 million English-speaking users by 2015.

That’s good news for global brands chasing opportunity in the Chinese market. But it also poses a logistical challenge for e-marketing. 

The fact is global marketers face a conundrum in China: As the country’s exponentially expanding middle class teems with interest in foreign brands, they’ve shown a strong preference for online engagement. In fact, this recent Ipso China study found brand websites influenced the purchasing intent of nearly half of Chinese consumers.

But getting those digital marketing messages into the country can be quite an undertaking.

While more than half a billion people use the Internet in China, dragging Internet speeds and spotty interconnectivity tax the end-user experience. One study found it takes the average luxury brand’s website more than 16 seconds to load.

Many global brands try to bypass the latency issues at international gateways by hosting content within China – only to find the process for securing a local-hosting license onerous.

No doubt, online shopping in China is vibrant and thriving. On this month’s Single’s Day, China’s answer to the U.S. Black Friday, e-commerce sites raked in $4.6 billion alone. And for global brands wanting to get into this action, virtual hosting offers a web-performance solution.

Under a virtual hosting arrangement, content can be cached and distributed as needed through a wide in-country content delivery network. We recently launched a virtual hosting service, for example, that allows global brands to reach the coveted Chinese consumer by caching their content locally, while ultimately hosting their content in our nearby Hong Kong or Singapore data centers.

For global brands seeking a place to grow their consumer base, there is perhaps nowhere on Earth more lucrative than China. But getting the message within its borders can be a challenge.

While dozens of factors – from browser type to network connection – can influence web performance, marketers need to know they have options for bringing locally hosted content to the consumer. Talk to your hosting company or service provider about their options for getting your websites into China.