International Marketing News: The Role of SMS in Sales and an Update on Trade Deals with China

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ClickThrough's Head of International Marketing, Alison Humphries, talks us through the latest news stories from this week. From brands showing us how to upsell effectively online to consumer retail sales in China, read more.


International Marketing News: The Role of SMS in Sales and an Update on Trade Deals with China

What's new, important and interesting in international marketing? This week we look at how top brands have approached upselling online, the importance of SMS in the digital marketing mix, the uplift in positive numbers for year-on-year Chinese retail sales in 2020, the current status on post-Brexit trade deals with Canada and international search terms indicating a shift in consumer behaviour.



Econsultancy have identified how ten global brands have successfully replicated the offline upselling model online, taking a more subtle approach than the offline experience which is often described as ‘pushy’.

  • Deliveroo suggest extra ingredients or drinks to accompany the meal during the checkout process.
  • Dollar Shave Club encourages its customers to sign up for a box of shaving and grooming products while making a purchase, and has given its higher end razors more appealing names than cheaper products to subtly persuade people to go for the more expensive option.
  • LookFantastic offer 10% or 15% discount to customers spending £80 or more to incentivise them to increase the value of their basket.
  • Pro Flowers offer four different bouquet sizes, with the second cheapest option being default. This means that people are encouraged to go for the third highest option if they wish to gift more generously. They also upsell greeting cards at checkout.
  • Tesla provide upgrade options at every stage of configuring a car.
  • Away Travel suggests more flexible and roomy carry-ons when people select a case, as the bigger cases are more expensive. They also provide a personalisation option at a cost of £10 at checkout.
  • Sky subtly designed its more expensive package to look more visually appealing and implemented a limited time £2 per month reduction to create urgency to purchase.
  • Intercontinental Hotels starts the booking process with the number of beds, with the objective to upsell a suite. It then suggests choosing a refundable option, which is a slightly higher cost.
  • easyJet seeks to make its customers’ flight experiences more convenient through offering additional payment for services like aisle seats.
  • Healthspan pushes its subscribe and save option to ensure repeated, rather than one-off, purchases.

The “True Luxury Global Consumer Insight Survey” carried out by BCG in June showed that Western consumers currently prioritise traditional values like craftmanship and timeless qualities or aesthetics, whereas their Chinese counterparts favour extravagance, fun and excess. This clearly outlines the importance of understanding the changing motivations to purchase of your target audience to continue to grow sales and revenue.

Avoid alienating your customers by automatically adding items into their baskets through distracting or misdirecting users during the purchase process. Consider whether the upsold items offer a clear benefit to your customers or align with their previous purchases.



eMarketer discuss the merits of running promotional activity through SMS in the US with Outer Aisle CMO Vasa Martinez, Head of Marketing and Analytics, Brian Hashemi at Uncommon Goods, and Peace Out Skincare CMO Junior Pence.

Vasa Martinez recommends making segmentation, automation and complimenting other growth retention channels like email and subscription integral to your SMS strategy.

Peace Out Skincare used SMS as another touch point to communicate with their customer base to strengthen their customer retention strategy. They did so by enabling new customers to opt in and get 15% off their first order, and providing transactional messages about their order and updates on new products. This approach resulted in 21% of eCommerce revenue being driven by SMS.

Consumers are inundated with promotional messaging across all media channels. As a result of this, Uncommon Goods have seen strong success from SMS through determining the optimal frequency of messaging. Spreading a welcome series out over four days, followed by a maximum of one SMS per week, has been the approach adopted by Uncommon Goods, which has delivered response rates around ten times faster than email, on average.




China Internet Watch report that the total retail sale of goods in China hit positive figures in August for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic. Figures totalled 3,357.1 billion yuan (US$496.67 bn), up 0.5% year-on-year.



Retail sales of consumer goods totalled 23,802.9 billion yuan this year, which is still 8.6% lower than last year, so several months of positive figures will start to put the Chinese economy on the road to recovery.




The Institute of Export and International Trade is closely monitoring the progress of post-Brexit trade deals and has the latest update on the market following the securement of a trade deal with Japan last week.

The UK government is increasing the pace on plans to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) of 11 nations through commencing the next round of negotiations with Canada.

The Telegraph report that the Canadian government foresee a “Phase One” agreement, which centres around keeping the agreements set up under the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) before embarking on discussions around fresh trade agreements.

Canada currently looks set to support the UK’s accession to the CPTPP, which Trade Secretary Liz Truss set in motion following a meeting with representatives from the 11 markets last week.

Annual trade between the UK and Canada averages £19.7bn, with the following top exports and imports:

UK Exports to Canada:

  • Vehicles and equipment
  • Machinery and mechanical products
  • Chemical products
  • Minerals
  • Food

Top imports from Canada:

  • Precious metals/stones
  • Minerals
  • Machinery and mechanical products
  • Vehicles and equipment
  • Base metals



Think with Google have identified four key behavioural shifts that have emerged cross-continent over the lock down period.

Consumers have driven businesses to become more innovative

Businesses have let their creative juices flow with their efforts to maintain the standard of service their customers’ expect from setting up apps, through to enabling ‘virtual try-ons’ and facilitating the usage of QR codes.

Niche delivery needs and increased demand for promo codes have emerged

Google Trends shows increases in searches for niche deliveries to facilitate connection with friends and family – from ‘afternoon tea delivery’ (‘afternoon tea delivery’) and ‘balloon delivery’ (‘balloon delivery’) in the UK, to ‘chocolate delivery’ (‘livraison chocolat’) in France.

Consumer expectations for live information has accelerated

The uncertainty and constantly changing regulations have influenced the urgency to seek out ‘real time’ information. ‘near me’ and ‘services reopening’ related searches were at their highest over the peak of the pandemic. ‘are dentists open’ (‘abren los dentistas’) in Spain, ‘recycling centres open’ (‘recycling centres open’) in the UK and ‘nail studios opening’ (‘nagelstudios öffnen’) in Germany are just a small sample of top searched for keywords over this period.

People also wanted to understand the parameters of what they could do together, resulting in search terms like ‘can we do our shopping together’ (‘peut on faire ses courses a deux’) in France, ‘quietest time to go shopping’ (‘quietest time to go shopping’) in the UK, ‘opening hours’ in Poland (‘otwarcia sklepów’) and Denmark (‘åbningstider påske’).

Major shifts in demand have emerged

The combination of restrictions imposed on day to day life and the necessity to shop online en masse drove demand for new products and services. The wide range of emerging requirements encapsulated for kids’ (‘for kids’) in the UK; beds, toys, etc. ‘for dogs’ (‘para perros’) in Spain; ‘games for girls’ ('jeux de fille) and ‘home cinema’ (‘home cinéma’) in France; yoga, Turkish cooking, etc. ‘for beginners’ (‘für anfänger’) and ‘4K monitor’ (‘4k monitor’) in Germany; ‘screen prices’ (‘اسعار شاشات’) in Egypt; ‘robot vacuum cleaner’ (‘robot aspirapolvere’) in Italy’; and ‘HD smart-led TV’ (‘hd smart led tv’) in Turkey.


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