Focus buys boat-based digital billboard in Shanghai

Other news in Greater China

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Focus Media Holding Limited , China's largest digital media group, has acquired its first large-size LED digital outdoor billboard in Shanghai. Through a renewable contract with the Shanghai government, Focus Media acquired the right to operate a 1500 square foot LED digital billboard on a boat navigating roundtrip along the bund area in Shanghai.

In a company statement, Focus called the large-size digital billboard “an important addition to our current iStreet Network of over 200 digital LED advertising panels covering Shanghai's major high traffic commercial areas. The launch of the large-size digital billboard marks an important milestone of Focus Media's continuing effort to strengthen its digital out-of-home coverage of urban consumers in China.”

Focus Media is a leading Chinese multi-platform digital media company, operating the largest out-of-home advertising network in the mainland using audiovisual digital displays. As of September 30, 2007, its digital out-of-home ad network had approximately 95,398 LCD displays in commercial locations, approximately 43,315 LCD displays in its in-store network and 170,605 advertising in-elevator poster frames in over 90 cities throughout China. It also has approximately 200 outdoor LED billboard displays in Shanghai.

Artificial Life and Star launch mobile games in Taiwan and Hong Kong
HONG KONG--News Corp.’s Star Group entertainment and media company and Artificial Life, a Hong Kong-based provider of mobile 3G technology and applications, has launched 15 java mobile games based on the Taiwanese teenage pop groups Lollipop and Mei Mei in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The mobile games can be downloaded from Artificial Life’s m-commerce portal and the VIP member zone of a web site dedicated to both bands, The games are also available on the mobile game platforms of some Hong Kong telecom operators and will soon be launched in Taiwan.

In the games, group members engage with mobile users in various ways including dancing, a sing-along, playing cards, puzzles, and sports. Advanced features display the band members in real-life images and let mobile users generate downloadable screenshots from inside a puzzle.

Lollipop (a six-member all-boy group) and Mei Mei (an eight-member all-girl group) started on Lollipop and Blackie’s Teenage Club, two popular talent search shows on Star TV’s Channel [V] music channel in Taiwan.

Launched in 2005 and 2006 respectively, Blackie’s Teenage Club and Lollipop are idol academies in which the group members are selected from a large pool of contestants after going through numerous rounds of talent contests. Aired daily on Channnel [V] Taiwan in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the shows have attracted a massive following in Chinese-speaking markets across Asia since their launch.

Accenture identifies Chinese consumers open to foreign brands
BEIJING--Companies seeking to capture the attention of the increasingly brand-savvy Chinese consumer need to tailor their marketing strategies to the preferences and attitudes of three distinct customer segments in China that are most open to buying foreign brands, according to a global study released by consulting firm Accenture.

The study about shopping preferences and values that influence buying decisions is based on an online survey of 1,022 consumers. It identified six distinct customer segments in China, including three that have a stronger preference for foreign brands and the brand characteristics they value most.

According to the findings, the consumer segment most likely to purchase foreign brands is the "young royals," which consists of young college-educated adults, mostly women, who are more affluent, free-spending and keenly interested in foreign brands. This segment was twice as likely as any other to buy newly-launched brands (28% vs. 14% or less for other segments) and the most likely to want to be the first to test new brands (43% vs. 32% or less in other segments).

Two other segments are likely to purchase foreign brands. The "aspirationals" are young men and women who, like the "young royals," are highly brand-conscious and aspire to have the "latest and greatest," but whose low income makes them unable to buy what they want. The "established money" segment consists of higher-income men and women who, like the "young royals," want the latest in technology and high-end, exclusive products. However, those in the "established money" segment value brands that are already well recognized in the market.

The study also identified two consumer segments in China that are predisposed to buy brands. "Patriots" are overwhelmingly male (82%) consumers with average incomes who buy Chinese brands out of a sense of loyalty to their country. "Value buyers" are heads of households who favor practicality over flash, and value over exclusivity. The sixth consumer segment, "brand apathetics," tended to be non-urban students with little or no income who exhibited little interest in brands.

"During the past decade, the Chinese marketplace has emerged as an important, but challenging business target in today's global economy, with consumers whose buyer values and purchasing habits have evolved dramatically," said Woody Driggs, managing director of Accenture's customer relationship management practice. "Many foreign companies have tried, but few have succeeded at selling into this diverse, complex and often confusing mega market, making it imperative for marketers of foreign brands to have their fingers on the pulse of changing consumer patterns."

The study also found that Chinese consumers are less influenced by traditional marketing channels, such as direct mail and print ads, than consumers elsewhere in the world. Instead, they relied on recommendations from people they know, product reviews, endorsements and digital media, including online advertising, multimedia kiosks and digital signage.

A common theme among all segments was trust and reliability. According to the study, 81% of survey respondents said that being trustworthy is the most important attribute of a brand when making buying decisions across all product categories. This finding was especially true when it came to the financial services industry, with 91% of respondents citing trustworthiness as the most important factor. Reliability was also very important, cited by 80% of respondents.

The least important attribute was a company's contribution to the community, seen as important by only 30% of respondents. Contribution to the community had the least impact on buying decisions for high tech products (23%) and the most in financial services (40%).

"For a multinational company seeking to achieve high performance in the competitive Chinese consumer market, our findings will provide marketing executives with information and insights they need to make decisions about how to fill their marketing and supply channels," said Mr. Driggs. "A firm understanding of beliefs, values and decision drivers is required to create and offer distinct products and services that can ultimately win the trust of Chinese consumers.

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