Location data provider Cuebiq just got access to a significant resource for gathering insights on consumer behavior in China.
This morning the company announced it has entered into a partnership with GeTui, a Hangzhou-based mobile internet, push-notification service provider to nearly one billion devices. Under their agreement, the companies plan to jointly develop a machine learning platform to process an influx of data about foot traffic and offline consumer behavior from the Chinese market.
Reports generated from that information on visits to retail locations in China will be offered to Cuebiq’s clients, including brands in retail, financial services, and quick-serve restaurants.
Cuebiq CEO Antonio Tomarchio, who spoke at this month’s Street Fight Summit, says the partnership expands his company’s reach to one of the largest economies in the world. “This is a very important milestone for Cuebiq,” he says. GeTui will use Cuebiq’s algorithm to enrich the data at an aggregate level and provide actionable insights. This way brands will be able to see trends among consumers in China, based on where they go and spend time.
This deal, Tomarchio says, positions Cuebiq to be a global location data resource with access to one of the fastest growing economies on the planet. “Think about how many American brands have invested in China,” he says. “KFC, apparel brands, retail, even grocery stores.” These companies, Tomarchio says, need more intelligence on what is happening in the physical world in the local scene, and now his company is positioned to address that demand.
Differences between China’s local market and what brands are used to in the US create some challenges to gathering the type of data they want. “You have a very fragmented Android ecosystem [in China], with like 58 app stores,” Tomarchio says. “Google’s penetration there on the Android side is very limited and you have tons of different Android players.” He says Android devices make up some 85 percent of the market in China, dwarfing the presence of Apple iOS.
On top of that, local social networks rather than Twitter and its western ilk dominate the social media scene in China — compounding the difficulties for American companies to get data, Tomarchio says. He sees the partnership with GeTui as the way to create access to understanding consumer behavior there.
There have also been historic differences between mobile device usage in Asia compared with the US — in particular with the functions consumers have access to. Features for mobile payments, for instance, that are just now taking hold in the US have long been available overseas. The social media app WeChat, developed in China, offers messaging along with the ability for users to pay bills directly from their bank accounts. “You can do transactions, pay utilities, and transfer money to friends,” he says. “It’s a much more mobile-oriented economy.”
QR codes, which struggled to get mainstream traction in the US, can be found in many places across China, Tomarchio says. When scanned with a mobile device, the codes provide information, product text, and can also be used for transactions.
Tying this all together is a vibrant consumer environment in China, which is still in growth mode and seemingly ripe for Cuebiq to gather data on. “Retail is booming; shopping centers are booming,” Tomarchio says, and it is happening in tandem with mobile scaling up. When consumers in China visit malls, he says, they might use their mobile phones to do transactions on the premises. Tomarchio says that differs from the domestic upswing in e-commerce at a time when malls here fight to retain foot traffic. “You have a much closer connection [in China] between offline and online compared to the US,” he says.
Joao-Pierre Ruth is a Street Fight contributor.