Li Song, founder of match-making website Zhenai, gives the impression that he is media savvy. He often appears in interviews and posts them on his website to attract viewers.
Li has always been good at leveraging free media exposure. When Zhenai was just starting, money was tight but Li desperately wanted to get the company’s name out. So, during a major internet industry gathering, Li put on a wig and dressed up as a lady match-maker, or “hong niang” in Chinese.
The gimmick worked, the video went viral and Li instantly became the talk of the town.
It used to be that easy. Not anymore.
In a recent episode of the business program Boss Town, Li said that with revenue of 500 million yuan (US$81.8 million), Zhenai probably leads the match-making sector. However, its profit margin lags the industry average of 15 percent because he has to invest heavily in a new marketing channel — mobile platform — which is expensive.
While its desktop customers are growing, those that use its service on mobile phones and tablets are increasing at a much faster pace. That means Zhenai’s future depends on mobile devices.
Match-making is big business in China. Zhenai claims 60 million registered members. Nasdaq-listed Jiayuan.com International (DATE.US) and major rival Baihe put their numbers at 90 million and 60 million, respectively.
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