Chinese marketing minds

September 28, 2010, 12:21 AM posted in General Discussion

I have just bought my book of tickets for bottled water (delivered to my home) and I am reminded again how different the Chinese marketing mind is from what we are used to in the West.  

My choice was a range of packages costing 100, 160, 200, 300, 500, 600 or 800 RMB.  In the West we would expect that the more you pay the greater value.  

After careful deliberation (and overworking my dictionary) I decided that the best deal is the 100 RMB one.  The deals seem to get crappier (at least to my Western mind) the more you pay. The more expensive packages have more and more stuff you really don't need or want.

But the real mystery is this - each package has a 'value' attached to it, eg.  100 RMB package value 137.5 RMB. The 800 RMB package has a lower value ratio than the 100 RMB package.  Maybe they assume that people that buy the 800 RMB package are not very bright, or they are too busy to do the maths?   

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September 28, 2010, 12:58 AM

Interesting, though I'm not sure it's only a Chinese thing. I remember a while back some of the really big box stores in the US were accused of 'cheating' customers by charging more per unit for very large volume packages, hoping to make a little extra on people that think buying in bulk is always cheaper and not doing the math. In general, though, I agree, we do normally offer bigger discounts for larger up front purchases.

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Hi johnb

You're right - there has been some recent publicity in the West about the way customers are taken for a ride by marketing, and it relates to size of item. Some of it is fairly clever you have to say, and yes, some of the tactics play on the fact that we EXPECT things in bulk to be cheaper, so don't bother checking. In Australia, the supermarkets sometimes use this trick. But we also have 'unit cost' laws in Australia which are designed to minimise these deceptive practices.

They also have the 'straw man' option to get you to buy just the 'option' that is most profitable for them. Made famous by the Economist magazine (ie. sales of their own magazine.)

I wonder if in China they are playing on the Chinese love of getting SOMETHING (anything at all) thrown in as a kind of extra. These packages are so complicated you need a calculator and 10 or 15 minutes of your time to work through what just one of them is worth.

Funnily enough, the 'extra' I chose was more water - 24 small 400 ml bottles of water. Which of course I had to lug home.