Even though globalization continues to blur the lines between cultures, there are still vast differences between Western and Asian countries, and China is no exception. Learn about the possible challenges you need to overcome when entering the Chinese market with your product.
We Westerners might still see Asian countries engulfed in fascinating mystery even after several hundreds of years since the Marco Polo era. But, it is not a secret that the Chinese digital market is booming, and the Chinese dragon is still growing stronger.
In 2019, the global digital buyer penetration rate was estimated to range at 63 percent. In comparison, the Chinese online buyer penetration amounted to 74.8 percent. The number of online shoppers in China had reached more than 638 million in the first half of 2019.
Some consider it an incredible opportunity. It truly is until you face the challenges it introduces to your business, whether you are a one-man-show, a startup, or an established company.
Despite various localization challenges and regulatory requirements to enter this market, one can still pursue the opportunity to join the Chinese-speaking market if the odds to enter the Chinese domestic market are not on their side. Let's find out how to make your app ready for Chinese customers.
🤔 Is it tough to enter the Chinese market with an app? 🔗
TL;DR: Yes. Would you like to learn more? Welcome, adventurer!
🌏 Entering the Chinese mainland market with your app 🔗
First and foremost, few facts to show you how tough it can be to enter China's mainland with your app.
There is no Chinese Facebook or Google, and many other global brands are absent for a reason. Even though many strong companies tried to establish themselves on the Chinese market, many of them failed due to several reasons. Ask yourself if you have enough resources to pursue this challenge.
Some of the apps need to obtain computer software copyright certification you get from your local Chinese embassy. This endeavor includes a requirement to hand over your source code, which is a primary blocker for most companies due to intellectual property and security concerns.
🚩 Everything is different 🔗
Services and products must be culturally localized, which means that it is just not enough to only translate your digital product. Along with language, you might need to localize the business model, connect with local 3rd party providers and take care of all the details.
Especially for games, you'll need to restyle the game visuals, including your characters (i.e., you need to consider the appearance of eyes and sexual characteristics of in-game characters and so on).
🔎 Do your research on the app category you fall into 🔗
When entering the Chinese mainland market, the most crucial factor you need to consider before anything else is your app category classification.
✅ Potentially easier for approval 🔗
- 🧰 Tools (except for browsers, VPN, network disc, cloud)
- 📚 Education
- 🍲 Food & Drink
- 🧭 Navigation (could be a problem with satellite images)
- 📠 Photocopy
- 🏝️ Travel & Accommodation
- 🛍️ Shopping
- 👔 Business
- 🧸 Kids
- 🧘 Lifestyle & Convenience
- 🚗 Cars
- 😎 Personalized themes
⛔ Very tough for approval 🔗
Categories listed below come with heavy administration. Only Chinese entity companies are allowed to apply - you may be required to establish a joint-venture with state-owned enterprises or that the controlling persons are all of the Chinese nationality - the application costs are much higher, and it may take a long time.
- 🏦 Finance (finance license required)
- 👨⚕️ Sport and health (health license required)
- 📼 Media and Entertainment (audiovisual permit required)
- 🗞️ Books and References (news license required)
- 💿 Tools such as VPN, Browser, Network disk, Cloud (Value-added Telco business license required)
- 💬 Social and Communication (ICP & Security Assessment report required)
- 🕹️ Games (Must obtain game version number)
If you fall into the categories above, make yourself ready for a long-term, resource-heavy, and unguaranteed approval process.
⚠️ Beware of default country selectors 🔗
If your app includes a country selector to the users, you must respect that China does not recognize Hong-Kong and Taiwan as countries, and the Chinese office will not accept your app.
Name your "Choose your country selector" to "Choose your country/region."
⚠️ Connections to 3rd party apps 🔗
Is your app connected to any 3rd party apps and services, such as social networks, cloud services, and so on? Odds are your app will have a tough time getting approval.
You might need to remove some of them; adding local services instead will likely yield you plus points - for example, instead of Facebook, you might want to connect your app with WeChat.
⚠️ Simplified Chinese is a requirement 🔗
Your app must fully support simplified Chinese language.
Use Localazy Continuous Localization service to translate your app into simplified Chinese.
Read more about True Continuous Localization with Localazy.
〰️ Few more points for your consideration 🔗
In China, the governing bodies can introduce new laws quickly, and another new law may effectively cause rejection in the middle of the process.
You must not include a country name in your app name.
Need a hint about entering the Chinese Mainland market? Contact us.
🎯 Chinese makes sense for your apps even if you do not target China Mainland 🔗
Whether you are considering entering China Mainland or not, having your digital product available in Chinese is definitely a wise step.
Both simplified and traditional Chinese are used across the world by both other nations and Chinese immigrants.
The Chinese represent the third-largest immigrant group in the U.S., following Mexicans and Indians, with approximately half of all Chinese immigrants living in California (32%) or New York (19%).
There are also many Overseas Chinese people. Overseas Chinese are people of Chinese birth or ethnicity who reside outside the territories of the People's Republic of China (PRC), its special administrative regions (SARs) of Hong Kong and Macau, as well as the Republic of China (ROC or Taiwan).
There are several geographic markets where the Chinese language is pretty well established, such as:
- A lot of Vietnamese people know Chinese as well
Even though English is a pretty common language with Chinese people, thanks to their educational system, it is still valid that speaking to them in their native language is well appreciated.
You can stay assured some people will prefer to use products in the native language, despite knowing English very well.
Many reports put global e-commerce revenue for 2019 at USD 3.6 trillion, representing an annual growth of around 18%. In 2020, it was expected to pass the USD 4 trillion threshold. However, none of this will matter if you do not factor language into your global expansion plans. Nimdzi's data show that 9 out of 10 global users will ignore your product if it's not in their native language.
🐉 How to make my digital product speak Chinese? 🔗
It is pretty challenging to get your app localized and translated adequately into Chinese. Chinese characters are different from, for example, Latin ones.
Thus, it is always good to perform pseudo-localization during the design process to ensure your UI is ready for those characters.
The Localazy Figma plugin (coming soon) will come in handy to make your app ready for the Chinese language from the very start.
Once the design & i18n support is prepared, the fun continues.
- How to efficiently translate my strings into Chinese?
- How to ensure the quality of translations if I can not review them on my own?
- Do I have to hire Chinese translators every time I add a new feature?
Translate into Chinese with Localazy Virtual Translator
Enabling Virtual Translator is a quick and affordable way of achieving continuous localization in your project. Texts are translated into Chinese by a machine translation engine and then verified by a human translator to confirm that the correct context, interpunction, and placeholders are preserved.
The translations might not be as accurate as those provided by professional translators, but they perform much better than pure MT.
Review Chinese translations with Localazy Virtual Reviewer
Virtual Reviewer, represented by an actual human, verifies the quality of existing translations by checking the consistency of context, punctuation, and placeholders.
Translations are either accepted or rejected. A great option if you have your app pre-translated with MT engines or a public app with many contributors providing varying translation quality.
🚀 Keep your Chinese language support classy with Localazy Autopilot and Professional Translations 🔗
You can manage your whole workflow of Chinese localization within a one-stop shop. Cover all of the many steps involved in localization management with a single service - Localazy® Autopilot.
Autopilot comes with a generous source key limit, advanced features from the Professional tier, and core localization features available in the Free tier.
On top of that, with each payment, you receive credits for translations by professional translators or the Virtual Translator / Reviewer mentioned above.
Read what's included in the Autopilot plan
🍵 Conclusion 🔗
Are you ready to tackle the challenge of introducing your app or software product to Chinese-speaking audience? We hope this article helped you and if you are considering undertaking the process, we will be happy to help you with localization.