CHEVY CHASE, Md.—Following a year of research to deepen the understanding of Chinese consumers, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has launched a new Chinese website and has debuted a page on Sina Weibo; the first Mandarin language social media channel for the luxury brand.
These digital channel launches underline the commitment of The Ritz-Carlton to one of its largest growing markets, and a continued focus on the digital space. In the quest to further engage current and aspiring customers in China, The Ritz-Carlton will launch a Chinese mobile site by year-end, and there are plans to double the inventory of Ritz-Carlton hotels in China from eight to 16, within the next three years.
Social media has emerged as a powerful communications tool in China, and Sina Weibo as a leading micro-blogging website. Over 30 percent of Internet users subscribe to the social media channel which was launched in August 2009, and currently has more than 500 million registered users posting 100 million messages each day.
Two sets of research were conducted, each taking six months. The first study was an online pathways project to understand how affluent Chinese consumers felt about the brand’s digital presence. The second piece of research focused on website designs, content structure, website navigation, digital assets, photographs, page layouts, and social conversation.
“To thrive in China, a brand needs to go beyond the data and immerse itself in the culture to develop relevant marketing. The research process in China not only helped us to understand the needs of a Chinese consumer in the digital space, but also the way in which they have come to know The Ritz-Carlton,” said Ed French, chief sales and marketing officer, The Ritz-Carlton. “It also helped us to make subtle changes to design that would resonate.”
Continuing his own tradition of personally interacting with the brand’s social media audience, the company’s president and C.O.O. Herve Humler recorded a personal video message for the official launch post on Sina Weibo.