Weekly News Insight: Marketing in China

Marketing channels have evolved continuously as millennial are seeking “preferential” content to consume.

As consumers moved on from traditional media such as TV and radio to digital mediums, the role of “authentic” everyday people also increases tremendously. Indeed, the new digital platform has brought upon a new kind of brand ambassadors known as “Key Opinion Leaders” (KOLs) aka influencers.

Photo by 尧智 林 on Unsplash

Now when it comes to influencer marketing, there is a big difference between China and the rest of the world. Granted, despite their massive followers on Instagram, western influencers still struggle to break into China because they don’t have genuine connection with Chinese people. As they are not celebrated in the local market, at such, their endorsements have little emotional effect.

KOLs remain the biggest drivers of social engagement for consumer brands in China. For businesses who are looking for expansion to the land of the dragon, here are some news on marketing in China that you should know.

TikTok is China’s Most Important Export

TikTok, a video-sharing app designed by a Beijing-based tech company, became the first Chinese-owned app to reach number 1 in the US Apple App Store. Its success has come by embracing strongly features that fly in the face of American platforms but are central to Chinese social media: It aggressively mines user data, its videos require sound, it is largely oriented around a centralized recommendation, it emphasizes memes and challenges, and it continues to add addictive features to make it impossible to avoid.

TikTok is not available in China, but similar app called Douyin has been the country’s most popular short video app. It’s unclear how similar the AI is that powers both apps, but people who have tried both describe almost the exact same user experience. But what exactly makes the app super popular among millennial?

TikTok is a highly personalized, infinitely scroll-able feed of content that seems to encourage users to make memes or join in on video challenges. Most content moderation happens via a powerful artificial intelligence that’s constantly recommending more videos based on a user’s previous behavior inside the app. At such, TikTok could easily be the beginning of a new generation of social media, as BuzzFeed described.

Who can say what will take over TikTok next? Who knows if in the future TikTok’s AI becomes a better investment than Chinese KOLs? It’s an interesting idea when you put it all together, nevertheless, for now, TikTok can still expect a new wave of people signing up to join in the new flame.

10 Statistics for Weibo Marketing in China

China’s social media landscape is undeniably huge. But beyond that, social media plays a huge role in how Chinese consumers discover and purchase products, and conduct other day-to-day activities, including paying bills, banking, ordering taxis, etc. Because of that, more brands are looking to expand their footprints and reach into this market.

Unlike regular apps known globally, China has its own social media cultures. Weibo and influencers are two of them. The use of influencers is rising in China, and for marketers looking for a way into the market, Weibo could be the answer. Weibo is one of the most popular social media micro-blogging networks used by online users to connect with their beloved KOLs in China. In 2018, approx. 85% of its revenue comes from advertising. Furthermore, KOLs who are active in Weibo generated 30% more income in 2018 alone, thanks to Weibo’s targeted ad placements that matched the audiences’ preferences.

Check out the full infographics by Social Media Today here.

Content is the New Driver of Chinese E-commerce

There’s a growing number of online content creators who are contributing to and cashing in on the integration of content production and e-commerce industry in China. Chinese consumers’ shopping preferences and brand awareness are influenced by content from digital influencers (KOLs). So, it’s only natural that quality contents from KOLs and web celebrities have a huge influence on their purchasing decisions.

Although the idea of using quality content as a marketing tool for the promotion of commodities is not completely new, the current trend brings the two sectors closer, opening more possibilities for both sectors. Integration between online content and e-commerce is now quite streamlined and friendly, according to Deborah Weinswig, an analyst at research institute Coresight Research on TechNode.

But why now? Well, Chinese e-commerce giants are in need of a new driver while facing saturating markets and the plateauing of new user numbers. Then there is the changing in consumer behavior. Different from two decades ago when shoppers use e-commerce platform to find cheaper prices for the products they had already decided to buy, browsing through various platforms has now become an essential part to the shopping journey as well as an “entertainment” experience.

Chinese e-commerce giants pioneered the “shoppertainment” concept to combine the purchasing and entertaining experience. Further, e-commerce is a good means for content platforms to commercialize their user base. E-commerce and contents are going hand in hand in China, but beyond that, the sophistication of China’s integrated payments across social networks is what eventually propels the trend to global scale. With users able to shop directly in platforms like WeChat, influencers in China play an extremely important role in direct sales.