Ritz-Carlton Hotels has been busy carrying out an entire year of comprehensive research to enable the company to understand the needs of Chinese customers more thoroughly. Following the conclusion of the research project, Ritz-Carlton has launched a new Chinese website and a brand new page on Sina-Weibo; the luxury hotel brand’s first ever Mandarin language social media channel.
Ongoing Commitment to China
These major digital channel launches strongly highlight the Ritz-Carlton’s ongoing commitment to one of its largest growing markets, and reinforced the hotel’s continued focus on expanding its marketing efforts within the digital space.
As Ritz-Carlton continues on its mission to further engage current and aspiring customers in China, the hotel brand will launch a Chinese mobile site by the end of 2013, along with ambitious plans to double the number of Ritz-Carlton hotels in China within the next three years.
Powerful Communications Tool
Despite the restrictions applied by the Chinese government, such as banning Facebook and Twitter outright, social media has emerged as a unique force and a powerful communications tool in China. Mandarin language Sina-Weibo as a leading micro-blogging website; is one of the most popular sites in China. Over 30% of China’s internet users subscribe to Sina Weibo, which was launched in August 2009, and currently has more than 500 million registered users posting 100 million messages per day
Sina Weibo allows The Ritz-Carlton to effectively customise content in-language, making sure the messages remain regionally and culturally relevant, and to showcase, educate and discuss luxury travel and the global world of Ritz-Carlton in the 80 destinations in which the luxury hotel brand has a presence.
So how did the Ritz-Carlton know what to post on its Sina-Weibo page?
The hotel conducted two sets of research, each one taking six months.
The first was an online project aiming to better understand how affluent Chinese consumers felt about the hotel’s digital presence, and that of its competitors.
The second piece of research focused on website designs and navigation, content structure, digital assets,images, page layouts and social conversation.
Culture is all-important in China, and so to be successful there a brand must look beyond the data and immerse itself in the local culture to develop better marketing strategies and ‘get a feel’ for the market.
Understanding Chinese Consumers in the Digital Space
According to Ed French, chief sales and marketing officer for the Ritz- Carlton, “So far our efforts have struck a powerful chord. The research process in China not only helped us to understand the needs of a Chinese consumer in the digital space, but also the way in which they have come to know The Ritz-Carlton.
“We learned how our brand can best enhance a luxury experience for the people of China, both at home and as they travel around the world. Contrary to popular belief, research revealed that not everything needs to be done in the colour red to garner attention and appreciation.”
“Chinese consumers respond well to the colour blue, which they associate with immortality and wisdom. The shade of blue used in The Ritz-Carlton Chinese website and Sina-Weibo page was chosen for its richness and is sampled from the blue found in Chinese porcelain,” added French.
Another significant finding of the research was that Chinese customers have a high level appreciation for The Ritz-Carlton’s traditions, history and heritage, showing great desire for the hotel’s digital channels to reflect that tradition. At the same time, it is also important for the hotel to demonstrate that it understands the online preferences in China, while speaking to the audience in a culturally relevant way.
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