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24th July, 2017

How to write engaging content: The difference between Western and Eastern consumers

Is your marketing content engaging?

This is certainly not a simple question! In order to be engaging, your content should resonate with your target audience in tone, style, and message. As a communications agency in Hong Kong, we serve clients of many different cultures. We know that when it comes to marketing, one size does not fit all.

What works best for consumers in China does not necessarily work for those in Western countries. By “Western” we refer mainly to British and American consumers, and by “China” we generally mean consumers from the mainland. Although these guidelines are only broadly applicable, we hope they will prove helpful for those marketing to a culture that is not their own.

Relatable vs Aspirational

In developing societies such as mainland China, the larger the corporation, the more credible it is. People are looking for quality they can trust. The goal is to project an image of expertise for consumers to aspire to. Using long, complicated sentences is not such a taboo—in fact, it makes your company sound educated and professional.


Image credit: J3SSL33 on Flickr.

However, when marketing to a Western audience, this is not the way to go. Communicating to Western consumers is all about being relatable, and closing the gap between corporate and personal. To write content that connects in the West, keep it short, simple, and human. Communicate in the fewest words possible, use everyday language to ensure you are understood, and write in a conversational style, as if you are one person talking to another. People are becoming disillusioned with large corporations, and looking for a personal connection. Additionally, brands with strong, unique personalities are more engaging to Western audiences than bland, generic types. 

Subtle vs Overt

In Asia, advertisements tend to be direct. Marketing is all about the product or service, often with a list of claims and pages and pages of detailed information. This is to address the general concern about quality. People want hard evidence that they can trust the brand. They follow brands on social media, read advertisements willingly, and proactively seek out information.

Western consumers, on the other hand, are less tolerant of advertising, and take quality for granted. They tend to actively avoid commercials and advertisements, and only connect with brands for freebies or lifestyle-related content.


Image credit: Governor Macquarie on Flickr.

Your marketing content is more likely to be engaging if you keep it useful, low-key, and meaningful. Focus on the benefits of your product or service—people will read your advertisement if they will benefit from it somehow (even if it is just to be amused or entertained). Western consumers, especially the British, tend to be more self-deprecating and suspicious of boastfulness. Even if your company is the greatest, it’s best not to state it directly, but to prove it in your content. Give the bigger picture—something they can identify with.

Have you noticed any other differences? Add them in the comment section below!

If you need help or advice in getting your marketing content to generate the results you want, please do contact us.

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