International SMEs WeChat Strategies

Gerda Kuum & Xinru Zhuang

Student thesis: Master thesis


The aim of this master thesis is to study the aspects affecting international SMEs WeChat strategies and to analyse the strategies companies should adopt to better engage their WeChat customers. Multiple small and medium-sized Nordic design furniture and lifestyle firms were interviewed for this study. The paper has been motivated by the lacking literature in foreign companies’ capabilities to utilize WeChat platform functions and features. The main research question is “What aspects affect WeChat strategies of international SMEs in the lifestyle and furniture industry and what WeChat strategies international companies should adopt to engage their customers?” The thesis is composed of eight chapters, each of which deals with different aspect of our main research question. Chapter 1 and 2 are introductory, describing current market situation in China and recent developments with WeChat. Chapters 3 and 4 present findings from previous literature and theoretical framework chosen for this study. Four main theories are implied in this paper: Honeycomb model, internationalization, Guanxi and Customer Engagement Cycle. Chapter 5 explains our methodological choice of applying abductive research approach for this study, which is used for carrying out the whole research process. The analysis part, Chapter 6, is subdivided into two parts: WeChat Platform Analysis and Company Analysis. WeChat platform analysis examines the technological side of WeChat, and analyses how WeChat platform’s design and features can affect consumer behaviour and businesses’ marketing strategies through this platform. Company Analysis investigates the strategies our case companies have until now carried out on WeChat platform, and we discover the aspects affecting their WeChat strategy choices including their market entry modes as well as the importance of overall business strategy at their home country. We have also integrated the reflection on how cultural aspects affect WeChat strategies into these two parts. Third part of analysis is focusing on the role of relationship building and customer engagement on WeChat platform. We examine companies’ current marketing, communication and service activities and their ability to engage their customers on different stages of engagement cycle. The results of analysis are discussed in the final chapter of analysis part, where we emphasize the importance of choosing the right WeChat team and understanding the importance of Chinese II way of relationship building. In Chapter 7 managerial implications and recommendations for improvement are proposed. Finally, the conclusion on our main findings is drawn in Chapter 8. The main aim of this master thesis has been reached. The methodological approach and theoretical models chosen for this study helped as to systematically analyse companies’ WeChat strategies and we could detect several important nuances about WeChat platform and WeChat strategies. Lastly, we identified the limitations on theoretical models of honeycomb and customer engagement cycle and expanded or modified the models specifically for analysing WeChat platform. By carrying out thorough empirical study and making new theoretical contributions, we believe this master thesis adds value to already existing research in this field.

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages147