Insight: Three quarters of UK marketers miss global opportunities with ‘always-on’ marketing approach – Rakuten Marketing

With Singles’ Day fast approaching, Rakuten Marketing finds UK marketers are missing a major sales opportunity. According to proprietary insights, 74% of UK marketers are focused on the local market, despite seeing huge potential in affluent APAC shoppers.

Singles’ Day 2017 saw online shoppers from at least 225 countries and regions spend more than $25 billion across Alibaba’s platforms – more than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined – but just 13% of UK marketers are focused on the China-led sales day.

Instead, 56% of marketers say they now keep marketing campaigns constant throughout the year. It’s a strategy built around local consumer behaviour and a growing trend in early holiday shopping. In the UK, two of the most dominant shopper profiles are the ‘Early Bird Shopper’ (18%), planning up to a year ahead, and the ‘Sporadic Shopper’ (23%) who buys gifts throughout the year, as uncovered by the recent Unwrapping the Global Holiday Gift Shopper report.

However, this approach leaves an ever-growing opportunity untapped. Anthony Capano, Managing Director of Europe, comments, “In Britain alone, as many as 35% of transactions driven for Rakuten Marketing clients are now taking place overseas. Marketing teams must start focusing on these demographics and carrying out thorough research into local consumer behaviour and trends to inform campaigns.”

A known opportunity

Interestingly, marketers have an overwhelmingly positive outlook on the potential for growth in overseas markets. Nearly two-thirds of UK marketers believe their target customers outside of the UK are wealthier (62%), younger (64%) and more digitally savvy (71%). This sentiment is highest among marketers targeting Asia-Pacific where 82% confirm they see their customer base in the region as ‘premium buyers’.

However, Rakuten Marketing’s recent research report, New Horizons: A Guide to Reaching Consumers in High-growth Global Markets, found just 11% of marketers say they have local marketing teams in overseas markets able to carry the responsibility for the international roll-out of campaigns.

Capano comments, “Fortunately our research also shows APAC shoppers are actually far more likely to visit the brand site itself as part of the online journey than their western counterparts, allowing teams the opportunity to start small, measure and evolve their strategy. Instead of shying from the international stage, it’s time for UK marketers to invest in seasonal marketing campaigns and Singles’ Day is no exception. It will prove highly rewarding for early movers.”

Tapping the market

To reach customers in the lucrative Chinese market, marketers must not only embrace seasonal peaks and the opportunity therein, they must think about the additional platforms they use. Some UK marketers are increasingly using platforms such as the messaging app, WeChat: 36% have used the platform personally. Similarly, 30% have tried the microblogging website Weibo and 18% have tried the social network Renren.

“The key shopping period around 11/11 (Singles’ Day) runs from the 5th to the 15th of November”, explains James Coggles, Director, Client Partnerships UK/AU at Dealmoon, the leading social shopping community for Chinese expats around the world. “To participate, brands need a compelling offer to entice these savvy shoppers. There are a number of options here with the traditional one being a fixed, sitewide percentage discount. However, working with this community for some years now they react extremely well to spend-and-save tiered promotions, and lucrative ‘Gift With Purchase’s twinned with free shipping.”

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