China Paradigm interviewed Guillaume Rué De Bernadac, CEO and founder at Académie de Berandac, which providing etiquette classes in China, where he discusses the core clients of his company as well as the various platforms they use as a B2C and B2B business.
Etiquette training for Chinese: Bringing a family tradition to start a business in China
In the 1920s, the De Bernadac family has been teaching English, French, mathematics, sports, and manners. When Guillaume Rué De Bernadac decided to launch a business in China, the first decision he had to make was how to adapt his family’s knowledge, from 90 years ago, in today’s world especially in China (learn about our market analysis in China).
“Etiquette is something that evolves. We don’t behave the same today as we did 500 years ago. So, the purpose is not to give them tradition and to tell them something that will be eternal. No behavior is eternal, but how to live further with more confidence, more elegance in today’s world.”
According to De Bernadec, in this industry of etiquette training, westerners generally want to show credibility and service while wishing to be treated with respect and formality. They also want to be seen as someone intelligent. This is not to say that this desire does not necessarily exist in China, but what the Chinese expect from their etiquette classes in China is different (read more on Chinese millennial women turning to etiquette schools). Brands expect them to deliver training that provides depth to the products they are selling. For instance, they would explain the poses one could do to enhance how an exquisite ring looks on one.
“This is what we had to adapt to the Chinese customer who is looking at a completely different European one, and it is a process of learning. We keep on learning. We keep on producing new products and keep on adjusting.”
Académie de Bernadac clients: Travellers proud to be Chinese
When asked about their clients, De Bernadac says that it is the interest of being international that defines the majority of his B2C clients.
“They are Chinese, proud to be Chinese. They don’t want to become French, American, or whatever. No, it is not about that. It is about them being travelers.”
It may be intuitive to think that those taking etiquette classes in China may be elites and the mega-wealthy. De Bernadac actually tells us that his clients “are executives, not necessarily all millionaires and billionaires. They are people having responsibilities or in business, or sometimes housewives whose husbands are businessmen. What makes them different…is they consider themselves international” (read more on Chinese tourism in Marseilles).
Zhihu: A unique ecosystem for B2B/B2C marketing in China that can often be overlooked
Académie de Bernadac has a solid base of clients on WeChat who are strongly interested in etiquette classes in China and are willing to purchase luxury goods. They also utilize Weibo, which has more fun and entertaining ecosystem, for livestreaming and other marketing activities. What is interesting is that they also make use of Zhihu, a Q&A platform similar to the western Quora, to effectively enhance their marketing (find a guide to B2B marketing in China here). The core business of Académie de Bernadac is a knowledge company sharing, and this matches well with Zhihu as a platform for receiving more knowledge. User demographics on Zhihu is also a clear match for them: university graduates and those with executive jobs living in major cities in China.
Many overlook the potential of the platform Zhihu, and De Bernadac has seized the opportunity of getting their name out there. His company chooses a question on Zhihu and answers them, which then feeds to their account. They also produce content that can be placed across all platforms, such as integrating marketing articles from WeChat onto Zhihu or posting their videos on Instagram, WeChat, Weibo, Zhihu, and Facebook. Over the years, they have answered over 300 questions, earning De Bernadac’s follower base of over 40,000.