CON­NECT­ING CHI­NESE UN­DER THE KIWI SKY

New Zealand Marketing - - Skykiwi -

With New Zealand’s di­verse so­ci­ety, Skykiwi chief ex­ec­u­tive Ally Zhang ex­plains how it’s help­ing Chi­nese ar­rivals feel at home, while also tak­ing New Zealand to the rest of the world.

Take a look around New Zealand and you’ll no­tice it's chang­ing. In the year end­ing Jan­uary 2018, New Zealand’s pop­u­la­tion grew by 70,100 peo­ple from coun­tries be­yond our bor­ders, 9,300 of whom were from China.

In the 2013 cen­sus, mi­gra­tion rates saw 171,411 peo­ple liv­ing in New Zealand iden­tify them­selves as be­ing part of the Chi­nese com­mu­nity. Of those, 26.6 per­cent were born in New Zealand and 73.4 per­cent were born over­seas. The most com­mon re­gion this group lived was Auck­land.

Cap­tur­ing more than 90 per­cent of the Chi­nese mar­ket in New Zealand is Skykiwi, with over 100,000 daily ac­tive users and 310,000 reg­is­tered Chi­nese ex­pats, stu­dents and ‘Chi­wis’.

An evolv­ing au­di­ence

It all started in 2001, when a group of Chi­nese stu­dents liv­ing in New Zealand set up Skykiwi as an on­line dis­cus­sion fo­rum and dig­i­tal hub to learn more about their new home.

Users could visit the site to talk to oth­ers, and read news taken from main­stream me­dia such as RNZ, Stuff and The New Zealand Her­ald, that had been trans­lated and edited for Skykiwi’s Chi­nese-speak­ing au­di­ence.

Sum­ming up its role to the com­mu­nity is its name, which Zhang says rep­re­sents “Chi­nese liv­ing un­der the Kiwi sky”.

“If you look at year 2000, a big spike of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents ar­rived in New Zealand to study here,” says Zhang. “When they ar­rived they have no idea about this place so they are ask­ing: where should I buy my books etc.”

Zhang was one of those stu­dents, a mi­grant from Bei­jing who in­vested in the web­site along with a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man from China.

Fast for­ward to to­day, and the Skykiwi fo­rum has ex­panded. No longer only mon­e­tised through ad­ver­tis­ers, it's di­ver­si­fied its op­er­a­tions into event and func­tion man­age­ment and turned its at­ten­tion to over­seas mar­kets.

Clients are in China, Aus­tralia, Sin­ga­pore and Canada, and all want to con­nect with Skykiwi’s user­base.

The team is now round 70 peo­ple, and in­cludes jour­nal­ists pro­duc­ing orig­i­nal con­tent along­side that trans­lated from main­stream me­dia.

It’s also spread across the coun­try with of­fices in Welling­ton, South­land and Christchurch.

Why speak New Zealand

Since Skykiwi’s early days as a fo­rum, its found­ing au­di­ence has grown up, grad­u­ated univer­sity, taken up jobs, bought houses and started fam­i­lies. Their lives are now fully im­mersed in New Zealand.

So why is it they need a Chi­nese web­site to visit to read news and con­nect with other Chi­nese liv­ing in New Zealand.

Zhang ex­plains Skykiwi’s au­di­ence isn’t ex­clu­sive, and sees the web­site as com­ple­men­tary to New Zealand’s main­stream me­dia.

She says af­ter a day speak­ing English, they come home and want some­thing easy to take in. It’s also used by fam­i­lies want­ing their chil­dren to grow up speak­ing both lan­guages. In 2013, cen­sus data showed 78.8 per­cent of Chi­nese spoke English.

On top of their bilin­gual abil­ity, Chi­nese who speak Chi­nese at home con­sume a lot of dig­i­tal me­dia and Skykiwi can sat­isfy this.

Not sur­pris­ingly, Chi­nese have the great­est ac­cess to the in­ter­net when com­pared to the Asian eth­nic group and the New Zealand pop­u­la­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Stats NZ, in 2013, 90.7 per­cent of Chi­nese had ac­cess to the In­ter­net, com­pared to 90.2 per­cent of Asians and 82 per­cent of the New Zealand pop­u­la­tion.

Be­yond New Zealand skies

Be­yond those liv­ing un­der the New Zealand sky, Skykiwi also ser­vices Chi­nese liv­ing in China, so much so, 20 per­cent of its daily ac­tive users are based there.

While the dig­i­tal na­ture of the plat­form makes it easy for Skykiwi to reach Chi­nese in all coun­tries, in China it’s work­ing with the coun­try’s ma­jor do­mes­tic air­lines to in­ject video into their in­flight en­ter­tain­ment as well as do­mes­tic bus com­pa­nies that also have pas­sen­ger screens.

Through this, Zhang ex­plains it’s con­nect­ing Chi­nese peo­ple with New Zealand and New Zealand prod­ucts.

“If I’m think­ing of go­ing to New Zealand for travel or what­ever rea­son, where am I go­ing to go? Skykiwi.”

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