Bord Bia has hosted an interactive workshop providing insight to some 30 Irish food and drink exporters on China’s number one mobile messaging app, WeChat.
WeChat is a cross-platform messaging service similar to WhatsApp, which has over 700m active users and is growing at a rate of 35 per cent each year. Half of these use WeChat for at least 90 minutes a day making it now one of the most popular social media platforms in China. Recognised as a powerful method of connecting with consumers in the Asian market, WeChat provides an opportunity for Irish food and drink companies to target Chinese consumers.
This event allowed exporters to begin formulating a strategy for entering the Chinese online market and using WeChat as an export and ecommerce tool.
“With a steadily-increasing population, China offers huge growth potential and is set to become the first billion euro market for Irish food and drink exports outside of the UK within the next three years. This workshop builds on Bord Bia’s strategy to help Irish food and drinks producers gain a foot-hold within this competitive market and WeChat has become an essential tool to become a success in the region,” said Bord Bia food and beverage manager Karen Tyner.
Participants included Irish companies from the dairy ingredients and seafood sectors who have already established a presence within the Chinese market, as well as companies from a wide range of sectors who are new to the Chinese market.
Revolutionising how businesses advertise in the Chinese market, WeChat allows users to not only communicate with companies, but also to purchase directly from them.
“Consumers can make purchases in just a few taps which makes it an attractive option for companies looking to advertise their products in the market. Current figures show that the average WeChat user makes more than 50 transactions monthly on the platform. Similar to other social media apps, it also provides insights on users which can allow companies to focus their marketing efforts,” added Ms Tyner.
The workshop was delivered by WeChat expert, Matthew Brennan from the EU (small and medium-sized enterprises) SME Centre, a China based EU-initiative that provides support services to companies getting them ready to do business in the market.
“WeChat is China's number one mobile app controlling over 35 per cent of total time spent on mobile in China. The platform has a unique and powerful combination of payments, social and content that simply doesn’t exist outside of mainland China. WeChat is on course to have a billion active users by the end of this year,” said Mr Brennan.
“In a Chinese internet with no Google, Facebook or YouTube, it's no exaggeration to say for most Chinese businesses, their WeChat account will be more important than their website,” he added.
According to recent Bord Bia figures, Ireland exported over €869m worth of food and drink to China in 2016, an increase of 31 per cent on the previous year, primarily driven by dairy, pigmeat and seafood. Bord Bia offices in Shanghai and more recently in Singapore serve as a launch-pad for Irish food and drink exporters to explore new opportunities in the region.