China, armed with its large PRC national customer base, is now becoming a global challenge to all brands. Hence, the need for having more measured, fewer, Chinese-focused and higher quality marketing efforts is now pressed to brands wanting to make it big in the said country. A report from Totem Media shortlisted 5 notable trends that brand advertisers and marketers need to be mindful of.
1. Globalized Marketing in China
China’s expansion has been at top speed the past recent years – from its non-stop population growth to a multitude of overseas visits to a myriad of cross-border e-commerce transactions. Thus, it is of no doubt that Chinese enterprises are now targeting to expand their borders on a global scale.
Given this, it is a must now for marketers to treat China as a global challenge in which brand headquarters should be giving their attention to in terms of respectful messaging and authentic content. In fact, brands must be able to align itself and its core identity with that of China to be able to market effectively.
With its growing presence. China alone is also able to change the media and marketing landscape. In fact, Douyou, a top app in China and its international version TikTok rose to popularity in the global app market, garnering a total of 500 million users combined. There are also apps like WeChat and Kuaishou, both having seen success in attracting users in other Asian markets outside China, and not to mention, Alipay and WeChat Pay, both having successfully expanded globally due to the increase of Chinese global tourists and migrants.
2. Emphasis on Brand/Digital Performance Measures
Marketing in China now requires measurement and data to push the growth further into the complex market. In fact, in social media, emphasis on authentic follower increases marks the standing of a brand’s overall awareness and affinity, and this is not simply the result of push marketing. Moreover, customer engagement now has become a better key performance indicator rather than social media follower count.
This leads to how data and measurement efforts are becoming a must in partnering with various Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and Social Media Influencers. By creating a complete range of data to check the effectiveness of sales and marketing efforts, brands can evaluate their ROI.
With that said, the trend of doing “one-to-one” or personalized marketing in China is also possible. The development of Social CRM on WeChat and as well as the improvement in offline-to-online (O2O) data collection (such as tagged users data and activities, segmented audiences based on shared attributes) allow brands, especially the ones with large and engaged follower bases, to manage “one-to-one” marketing as scale. With audience communications narrowed to specific individual interests, brands now experience large improvements in both follower engagement and customer sales.
3. Immense Social Selling Potential
As social media now becomes an inseparable part of China’s e-Commerce, sales links are now present in every social media channel. “Social commerce”, as one may put it, allows consumers and followers alike to purchase conveniently on every turn across social media platforms, such as short video apps, community sites, live-streaming sites, and even messaging platforms. Influencers and KOLs have notably changed gears in their focus – from being paid to post to direct selling to their followers. There now even exists pyramid-style like marketing sites like Pinduoduo, where the audiences themselves can get a slice of that social selling pie.
For brands to maximize audience engagement and support its sales and longterm plans, it is suggested to plan various marketing strategies across a multitude of social media sites. Moreover, the cultivation of brand engagement and identity is a must to stand out.
4. Social Influence on Retail
Previously, physical retail spaces have been utilized by most as a venue in which a customer buys and the seller collects the payment on-site. With the said arrangement, it is rare that retail teams would interact with the ones from marketing. However, with the recent rise of online shopping convenience in China and how it is easy for customers to switch online and offline shopping platforms, these spaces are now being reinvented as opportunities for brands to market and promote customer engagement. Notable mentions would be the use of AR and VR technology and its role in reshaping the current retail market.
5. Branding Quality and Content Matters
The common practice in China’s marketing book was the KOL/influencers, ads and other promotions getting the top bill, as companies demand quick and fast results. And as for many international brands, marketing content in China has been just a translation of the original with minimal adaptation to the said market.
Hence, Totem Media remarked the lack of targeted content drives both follower count on a brand’s WeChat and Weibo down and its engagement rates too. The usage of video and video apps (such as Douyin), coupled with millennials and GenZ-ers’ preference for entertainment and increases willingness to pay – all of these boost the value of marketing content.
Tapping audiences with the right content through the right platform, particularly the topics they have an interest in, will allow brands to grow fast, and the challenge now becomes to develop unique and creative brand concepts that will resonate to their audiences through time.
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