STEPHANIE FONG, ENTscope Staff Writer

If you watched any Chinese films this year, you may know that “The Mermaid” or “美人魚” is the top-grossing Chinese film of all time. How was this film able to score North America’s biggest opening for a Chinese-made movie in a decade with little marketing? How may word-of-mouth marketing have played a role?

According to a poll taken earlier this year, over three-quarters of Americans ask for recommendations during the buying decision process. Over 60% of individuals are more prone to buy a product that has been shared only by someone in their social network. Meanwhile, over 90% of millennials rely on word-of-mouth before they make a purchase. Credibility particularly matters because trust is important.

Trust in marketing is particularly important because a large number of individuals do not trust online information. According to a survey taken in recent years, only 5% of individuals trust online information. The largest reason for skepticism is the presence of advertising. One source revealed that close to 70% of individuals use ad blocker software on their computers. The second-largest reason for wariness is staleness.

That’s not to say that “The Mermaid” did not have an amazing premise. According to an American producer, the reason Stephen Chow (the director, co-writer, and co-producer of “The Mermaid”) is popular is because he includes culturally sensitive nuances in his films. Despite “The Mermaid” being a comedic movie, it highlighted environmental issues, which included the preservation of the ocean’s purity. By humanizing the impact that one act of carelessness can have, moviegoers don’t feel as though they wasted money on what could have otherwise been a movie with no substance. The message is especially poignant in light of recent news of bleaching events in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

As an Asian American watching the movie with subtitles, while there were moments that were lost in translation, I greatly enjoyed the visuals and directing. It didn’t hurt that the female lead was a fresh-faced newcomer. In an industry where it is common to see poor acting, but pretty-faced actresses headline big-budget movies, it is a welcome sight to see talented newbies shake up an otherwise monotonous acting formula.

While there is much that can be learned from the success of “The Mermaid,” the most important takeaway is to produce quality content that appeals to your target audience. By doing so, you will increase the chances for positive word-of-mouth marketing.

Questions or comments? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below! In the meantime, check out West Meets East: Marketing in the Digital Age.

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