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A marketer’s guide to overseas property for Chinese high-net-worth individuals

By Michaela Zhu | Marketing executive

Emerging Communications


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March 24, 2022 | 6 min read

In the last 10 years, investment in western assets and property has been steadily growing among Chinese consumers – particularly high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs). Emerging Communications has assisted countless overseas property buyers, with unparalleled global expertise. Michaela Zhu, marketing executive at Emerging Communications, investigates the international Chinese property market and questions how marketers can target this lucrative sector.

Who are Chinese HNWIs?

In the past, Chinese HNWIs were generally between 40-60 years old, but now they’re emerging among gen Z and millennials, with 42% of HNWIs under 40.

Emerging Communications look at Chinese high-net-worth individuals and their investment in overseas property.

Emerging Communications looks at Chinese HNWIs and their investment in overseas property

A large proportion of this wealth comes from HNWIs establishing companies, investments or taking over family businesses. ‘Knowledge-based talents’ are also an increasing source of wealth, with high wages in banking, law and other corporate sectors.

Within this group, there’s a rising desire to ‘go overseas.’ Real estate is perceived as one of the most secure investments, allowing children an international education and a permanent base abroad.

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A rewarding prospect for overseas markets

The needs of this rapidly-expanding China market offer massive opportunities for international real estate brands.

In London, Chinese buyers account for 15% of overseas purchases on properties over £1m. For properties worth over £10m, this rises to over 20%.

This is a trend that shows no signs of abating. In July 2021, inquires for UK properties increased by over 213% on Juwai (China’s leading overseas property portal). Similarly, Knight Frank also reported a staggering £12.8bn of Chinese investment in the UK property market over 2021.

Despite the surge in international investment, many Chinese consumers are held back by concerns about understanding local markets and laws surrounding property purchases. Consequently, building trust with a China marketing strategy should be the number one priority, along with advice from experts with local insights.

Building trust through community marketing

To successfully gain Chinese consumers’ trust, overseas real estate brands must focus on creating meaningful interactions with their audience.

Developing a sense of community means considering events such as gala dinners, special shows or even an ‘afternoon tea’ product launch – all of which are popular with Chinese HNWIs. It all helps personalize brands and promote trust.

The Chinese real estate giant Vanke has long understood the importance of word-of-mouth ‘in-person’ marketing. For example, it recently launched a series of carefully-branded ‘Old Friends New Neighbors’ activities in Wenzhou and Hangzhou (among other locations). This included a wide-ranging program of dinner parties and social events – all to produce meaningful community relations and incentivize home sales.

Of course, this approach could also take the form of China digital marketing activities, building on the social significance of livestreaming and ‘key opinion leaders’ (KOLs) on Chinese social media.

Two-way KOL communication

If you think KOL marketing only works for direct business-to-consumer (B2C) campaigns, think again. KOLs enjoy massive popularity across Chinese social media, with thousands of followers on WeChat, Weibo, Douyin, Xiaohongshu and Bilibili.

This form of China digital strategy is extremely effective for promoting real estate sales. With live broadcasts by well-known and respected individuals who are industry experts, strong brand awareness and trusted connections are formed.

It’s all about two-way communication, with consumers able to interact and obtain valuable information on topics that really matter to them. To capitalize on these possibilities, KOLs working in the China property market can help western brands shape conversations and build compelling narratives.

They interact with audiences on topics they genuinely care about, through discussions on auction houses, second-hand house prices and how to select that perfect property. These KOLs conduct frequent livestreamed discussions, enabling direct communication with consumers.

With views of live broadcasts regularly in the millions (producing hundreds of thousands of live interactions), brands can truly drive strong connections and sales.

The art of emotional connection

As the power of Chinese gen Z HNWIs rises, overseas brands must create strong emotional resonance with their campaigns. To give just one example, the luxury retailer Hermès fosters an aspirational sense of identity through pop-up initiatives such as opening a high-end gym in Chengdu.

In the automotive industry, FAW-Volkswagen’s Audi brand took the idea of ‘products with personality’ one step further, giving its cars unique personalities. This included the ‘yuppie’ RS4 (representing a young gentleman full of poetry and distant places), as well as the faster SUV RS Q8, which represents a striking, honest and unstoppable individual. Through appealing to a powerful sense of personal identity, Audi’s cars engender emotional significance for young consumers – all while promoting the brand’s core products.

When it comes to substantial investments such as overseas property, this sense of emotional connection and aspirational personality is even more vital.

With Chinese interest in overseas property investment at an all-time high, download our Chinese Property Market Research Report. You can learn more about improving China branding and take full advantage of marketing opportunities in China to entice high-net-worth property investors.

Modern Marketing Agency

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