by Liliya Akhtemova – Intern at MooMu Media
You might remember that we posted a few weeks ago some interesting facts about online shoppers in China.
One of the most interesting discoveries for us was the fact that Chinese shoppers are developing the habit of not using search engines to find products online.
The Boston Consulting Group found that the relationship between search engines and retailers in China is very different to those in other countries. In China, the biggest search engine is Baidu, and the biggest online retailer is Taobao.com. Taobao.com blocks the Baidu search engine spider, meaning that if a shopper searches in Baidu – they will not see any Taobao products, (which accounted for nearly 80% of ecommerce volume in 2010).
This is resulting in China’s online shoppers preferring to go directly to TaoBao and bypassing search altogether, which makes their online shopping behaviour markedly different from that in other markets.
Back in 2008, TaoBao blocked all the search engine spiders – Yahoo, Google and Baidu. Baidu was targeted because it had launched its own C2C platform, which would be a competitor for TaoBao. The other search engines were partially blocked in an effort by TaoBao to reduce fraud.
In China, the majority of shopping searches take place within the online shopping platforms, although some searches are undertaken in normal search engines to collect information and compare prices between shopping websites. According to the China Intelli Consulting Corporation – around 80% of online shoppers surveyed rarely or never use search engines.
What does this mean for businesses? If you want to target shoppers in China, you need to look beyond normal search engine marketing techniques. You can’t simply target your website to China or operate a pay per click campaign in Baidu. You have to be aware of the biggest and most important platforms for your customers, and you need to operate through those.
Earlier in November twelve search engine companies met in Beijing at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The parties agreed to use robots.txt protocol, an industry convention, to tell cooperating search engines what information they can and can’t crawl on websites. This is to protect internet users from having their personal information mined and made public. Accusations of data mining and browser blocking have flown between Baidu (China’s biggest search engine) and Qihoo 360 (launched in August 2012, and already the second biggest search engine).
At around the same time as these meetings were going on, Google was completely blocked in China for 12 hours by Government authorities.