An experienced e-commerce operator shared his marketing plan for an imported olive oil brand in his blog. His detailed and practical information will inspire olive oil producers who target the Chinese market and offer useful tips for them.
As a common practice, an imported olive oil brand usually appoints a Chinese trade company as their general agent. This company then takes charge of product distribution and promotion. It will choose several distributors as its agents and fix a reasonable price for all products before selling them online. Brand promotion, the general agent’s other important responsibility, will be carried out by the company solely, including the following main steps:
Step 1: Market Analysis
The market analysis includes macro- and micro- environment analysis. The latter refers to external factors directly related to businesses’ network marketing activities.
Macro-environment analysis: In 2017, China’s olive oil imports from the world amounted to around 43 thousand tons, with an annual growth rate of 7.5%. Compared to the European Union -- the largest consumer of olive oil with an average annual volume of two million tons-- China has not even been ranked in the top 10 consumers of olive oil yet. In addition, Chinese customers have an extremely strong demand for high quality and safe food products. Therefore, the economic prospect for foreign olive oil brands in China is quite bright.
Micro-environment analysis: In order to keep abreast of information on the target market and competitors, the general agent needs to arrange market investigation to collect first-hand data on all olive oil brands in the market for further analysis. The investigation consists of pricing, the sales volume, the market share of each brand. The general agent’s market investigation has shown that the best sell brands did not have a high market share yet. It means there are no absolute advantageous olive oil brands in the market, so foreign producers still have a chance to promote their business in both strength and size in China.
Step 2: SWOT Analysis on Products
A key analysis is to find the strength and weakness of the products for future promotion. The weakness for the products, in this case, is a new brand with no reputation among Chinese consumers and no distribution channels in China’s market. While the strength for the products is listed as follows:
No. 1 sale olive oil products in the world, occupying 12% of global markets
One of the oldest olive brand which established in 1840
Its products’ acidity is less than 0.4%, the highest standard of Europe
Original bottles imported, quality assurance
Step 3: Product Series Selection
The general agent needs to select product series according to the demands of various customers. It involves packaging, capacity, composition and price for each product series. High-quality photos of product images will be ready at this step.
Step 4: Sales Plan and Forecast
A reasonable goal and growth plan should be set up according to the capacity and share of the market. Then, the general agent needs to take effective actions to achieve its commercial ambition and take fault tolerance and margin of error into consideration as well.
Step 5: Product Sales Modes and Distribution Channels
Online and offline sales are the two main sale modes for imported olive oil products. In offline mode, the general agency will arrange regional sub-agency and provincial or municipal sub-agency respectively. Each sub-agency is requested to submit certain guarantee fund and payment for the initial purchase. There are different concessional rates and gift giving for purchasing different products. While in online mode, only one distribution channel is available - the online flagship store at Tmall, the largest online retail operated by Alibaba Group.
Step 6: Advertising and Promotional Plan
Early advertising is focusing on the brand promotion. It emphasizes on brand story, including the environment of the country of origin, processing technology and its beautiful farm sceneries. In addition, internet promotion is used for cultivating the local customers’ awareness of a healthy lifestyle related to olive oil products. It consists establishing a product website to enhance the product image among Chinese customers as well as advertising in emerging We-media such as WeChat, Baidu Baike (a web-based encyclopedia), Q & A platforms and so on.
Step 7: Product Promotion
Product promotion will be carried out through following six main channels:
Well Known Chinese online stores such as Tmall
Internet commercials that linked to online stores
We-media promotion such as product reviews from WeChat or Weibo celebrities
Group sales for heavy buyers
Establishing an official brand store which makes customer tracking and analysis possible
Establishing high-end clubs for customers experiencing the charm of the products.
Thus, an online marketing plan has been completed. Next, it will be the implementation stage, a real test for a team’s strength and funding.