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August 23, 2019

Volume 7 Issue 4

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Using Social Media to Market Lubes in China

XI’AN, China – WeChat has been an effective tool to boost sales in China’s changing lubricants market – especially among younger customers – for one lube distributor in Chengdu, Sichuan province, a company official said at an event here earlier this week.

Chen Jun, founder and product manager at Yin Neng Technology, a major distributor for Bosch, Lukoil and Eneos in Southwest China, came up with the idea after his sales team visited about 50,000 auto repair shops in the province, some of which are Chen’s clients.

“We found that many shops lack a reliable supply of good quality lubes, and customers as well. So, the solution is simple for me – just give them customers,” Chen, who has worked at many lube and base oil companies, told Lube Report in an interview at the 2019 Muchengyou Lubricant Marketing Forum held on Aug. 18 in Xi’an, Shaanxi province.

According to Chen’s research, a repair shop can make enough to survive by serving the car owners living within only a kilometer radius. The Tianfu area in Chengdu alone, for example, has about 40,000 car owners. “A repair shop can make a good living to catch just 1 percent of the owners,” he said.

Chen decided WeChat is a good solution. The distributor uses the Chinese social media app not only for daily communication, but also for marketing and customer service. Another reason he chose WeChat is that he hopes to attract car owners between 20 and 40 years old, who are usually social media savvy and more willing to spend than their parents.

He hired a team to open service groups on WeChat targeting car owners in various residential blocks in the province. So far he has created 37 groups, and he aims to reach 1,000 groups in a year.

An important job for each group manager is to grow a key opinion leader.

“Chinese car owners usually have little knowledge about cars, and they are happy to learn about cars from [key opinion leaders]. How to give each group a trusted [key opinion leader] is key to our sales,” Chen said.

Such a key opinion leader can tell his or her followers about car-related information and which lube brands can be trusted, as well as where to take care of cars and get oil changes.

“In this way, we give repair shops the customers they crave, form a healthy supply chain to sell our lubes and gain firsthand customer data that will allow us to develop our future businesses, which could be beyond lubes,” Chen said, adding that his company is one of Bosch’s top distributors by sales in China.

He noted that using WeChat groups fundamentally changed the company’s way of selling lubes.

“It used to be a one-way thing to sell lubes, and it worked fine for many years. However, there have been so many changes in the Chinese market in recent years, and the old way just doesn’t work well anymore. We must be creative to find new ways to sell lubes,” Chen said.