The South China Morning Post (SCMP) currently is exploring traditional content-to-commerce initiatives but has found success in a B2B knowledge vertical that is literally offering content for commerce. SCMP Research offers an interesting look at how this topic is still excitingly malleable.
SCMP launched SCMP Research mid-year, carving out a new value proposition around its editorial expertise on China’s leading industries to target a new market. SCMP is focused on a new audience looking for China insights and intelligence comprising global stakeholders, corporate leaders, policymakers, consultancy analysts, institutional researchers, and academics.
The SCMP Research team produces intelligence reports, which sell for US$400 each and are authored by its editorial team. They’re also accompanied by exclusive closed-door Webinars that offer a platform for discourse with industry experts and c-level executives through its network of contacts.
The concept started with SCMP’s successful China Internet Report in 2018, which took a deep dive into how the Internet was reshaping the lives of 772 million users in China. The 100-page report summarised China’s Internet industry for international readers, including key information about China’s Internet landscape. This included lists of Chinese unicorns, the country’s top Internet companies and most active investors, and a side-by-side comparison of the Internet population in China and the United States.
“We started SCMP Research this year as part of SCMP’s overall strategy to provide the global community access to China beyond news coverage,” said Ang Jin, SCMP’s chief of staff and senior vice president of strategy. “The idea of SCMP Research came about because we identified an increasing global need for reliable intelligence into China’s leading industries, especially in the English language. With the great success of that report, we realised there is a growing demand for high-quality industry reports focused on China.”
And so SCMP Research launched with the third China Internet Report in July. The vertical also includes a China Healthcare Report, related to COVID-19 and released in August, and The China AI Report, released earlier this year.
Growing a team
SCMP Research is a cross-functional team within SCMP, led by the Strategy & Special Projects team. The initiative started with a dedicated content team of five people to produce SCMP Research products in close collaboration with the SCMP’s news and infographics team, along with a group of external experts, including strategic consultants, professional researchers, and industry insiders.
The team also works closely with the group’s marketing, sales, product, and data teams to distribute and sell SCMP Research products. The initiative highlights SCMP’s deep content for consumers, but its primary target is corporations and policymakers.
In addition to the report, buyers get access to exclusive Webinars and the ability to ask questions of current experts in the field. This access comes from the SCMP editorial team’s network.
“We are seeing the accompanying Webinars adding value to those who purchase the report with high registration rates,” Jin said. “They offer a deeper understanding of leading Chinese industry players through closed-door conversations between our journalists and senior company executives through live Q&A sessions where audiences can ask questions directly and elevate their understanding and gain insights.”
SCMP Research is like more traditional content-to-commerce initiatives in that it has identified a need, it is using resources it already has, and it is cutting out the middle person.
“We’re looking to expand to other industries and verticals in China, depending on market demand,” Jin said. “Obviously, as a new brand, we still have a lot of work to do in terms of establishing our value propositions, reaching out to new customers, and continuously refining our offerings.”
This case study originally appeared in the INMA report “Content-To-Commerce Brings Revenue In Post-Advertising World.”