Sinolization: How to Advertise to Chinese Consumers

EXTENDED ABSTRACT - Emerging as the most promising market in the world, China, with advertising spending of $10 billion in 2000, has become the second largest advertising market in Asia after Japan. However, foreign advertisers and agencies must decide how to influence the Chinese people who have a longer history than most Western cultures and a proud sense of tradition. How foreign brands and advertisers can succeed in this market is an issue underlying the present paper.



Citation:

Xin Zhao and Russell W. Belk (2002) ,"Sinolization: How to Advertise to Chinese Consumers", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, eds. Ramizwick and Tu Ping, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 119.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, 2002      Page 119

SINOLIZATION: HOW TO ADVERTISE TO CHINESE CONSUMERS

Xin Zhao, University of Utah, U.S.A.

Russell W. Belk, University of Utah, U.S.A.

EXTENDED ABSTRACT -

Emerging as the most promising market in the world, China, with advertising spending of $10 billion in 2000, has become the second largest advertising market in Asia after Japan. However, foreign advertisers and agencies must decide how to influence the Chinese people who have a longer history than most Western cultures and a proud sense of tradition. How foreign brands and advertisers can succeed in this market is an issue underlying the present paper.

Culturally effective advertising strategies have become a crucial concern for multinational corporations and advertisers as the world becomes more global. What may have initially been effective precisely because it was perceived as foreign is now loosing favor among Chinese consumers who are turning increasingly to Chinese brands. This increases the incentive for all advertisers, local or foreign, to localize or "sinolize" their advertising. In this paper we investigate the "Sinolization" of adverting in China in order to explore various ways in which this might be accomplished.

Sinolization of advertising is a code sharing process, using images, prose, poems, and other symbols that are familiar and favored by Chinese people. Advertisers who sinolize their messages try to create advertising that can be readily identified by Chinese people using familiar conventions and producing positive associations. In the process of creating such ads, advertisers often attempt to evoke warm and nationalistic feelings from their audiences. That is, Sinolization is the process of designing advertisements to reflect Chinese norms and values in an idealized, easily accepted form. In some cases advertisers also seek to disguise a product’s Country of Origin through the use of language and visual symbols. As a result, sometimes foreign brands are perceived as domestic and sometimes domestic brands are perceived as foreign.

Sinolized ads are not simply a copy or slightly altered foreign advertisement. They are instead as Chinese as possible. In this paper, television commercials and print advertising in Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing are chosen for the analysis. Successful strategies are analyzed from the perspective of visual elements, including use of models, cultural symbols, colors, linguistic elements, style, and brand translations, as well as media choices of specific outdoor advertising. Factors influencing Sinolization of advertising and further implications are also discussed.

The illustrations and discussion in the paper are mainly descriptive, although some of the claims have been supported by other research. Follow-up empirical work needs to be done to explore the effectiveness of Sinolization, based on a reader response approach. Other elements in advertising, such as music, should also be explored.

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Authors

Xin Zhao, University of Utah, U.S.A.
Russell W. Belk, University of Utah, U.S.A.



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5 | 2002



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