China has the largest e-commerce shopping experience and one of the most advanced market in regards to the technologies used for marketing purposes. Highly connected to social networks, the most well-known among foreign brands being WeChat and Weibo, customers are now using fast-growing “micro” integrated platform, like Xiaohongshu (RED).
The Chinese market has started to change due to its geographic and cultural differences and the younger generations, the Gen-Z (born in 1995-2000) and the post-’90s (born in 1990-1994), plays an important role to shape the “niche” communities.
Question is, what are the main marketing trends to succeed in China in 2021?
Leverage WeChat like a boss
As the most popular App for daily communication, either personal or business, adopted by most of the local companies, even foreign companies willing to start selling in China, WeChat has reached over 1.2 billion monthly users and remains the most important social network in China. Not having a WeChat strategy in 2021 is suicide.
While users are active on WeChat every day, to chat with friends, read articles, brows posts, watch videos via the latest built-in video “channel”, the app is also a unique place to shop, thanks to the WeChat Stores and other WeChat Mini-Programs, that brands can develop to sell directly on the app.
Brands can easily set up a WeChat Store or a Mini-Program to promote their brands and sell their products at a relatively lower cost. In the other hand, WeChat Official Account, where you can create long or short articles (texts, graphics, videos, links), is a perfect match to leverage a store. It allows you to set up the menu to connect with your website or WeChat store and share the contents with your product links within its ecosystem in a few seconds.
Furthermore, user behaviors analysis and CRM are easily accessed to target potential consumers and predict the consumer trend.
In China, you can go anywhere and do anything with a phone with e-payment and WeChat Pay is incredibly convenient since Chinese consumers don’t need to carry a wallet with cash or card with then wherever they go. Indeed, WeChat Pay adopted the Chinese traditional culture – Hongbao (Red Pocket) – to technology. People can receive a Hongbao or transfer from their WeChat friends from a thousand miles away in seconds.
WeChat is a superpower ecosystem and defining a WeChat advertising campaign with an agency is probably your best bet to succeed in China.
KOL and Private Poll is the future of influencer marketing
KOLs, widely known as Key Opinion Leaders, are whom consumers relying on, to have trustworthy reviews, comments, attitudes towards a topic, a product or a brand and KOL Marketing has reached its peak in China.
It’s common to see a lot of active KOLs on different platforms with almost the same content they use this technique to get more exposures, each network being unique, it is more difficult for them to provide a unique content that their loyal followers like.
In that case, it becomes essential to narrow down the market and brands start to look more into micro-influencers and KOCs, to engage with potential customers.
For example, Douyin has all age ranges of audiences and KOLs with all types of expertise, whereas audiences on Bilibili are much younger and they are a big fan of animation, and Xiaohongshu is all about fashion, beauty, and lifestyle.
Nowadays, people can easily find anything from the Internet for free and also have their thoughts and judgements. They are looking for something specific, unique, and more valuable content and voices, and that’s one of the reasons that “micro” (niche) is gaining popularity among young audiences.
Livestreaming will be one of the major sales channels
A livestream usually happens on a social media platform with a KOL or more promoting a product and/or communicating with their followers.
Livestreaming is penetrating in all aspect of life in China. Given the fact, livestreaming showed more possibilities during the outbreak of COVID-19:
- Livestreams makes it possible and easier for education.
- Celebrities and singers brought the stage onto livestreaming.
- Livestreams is taking e-commerce to the highway.
With the massive deployment of 5G, livestreaming e-commerce is going to stand out of the “traditional” e-commerce. Although consumers are worried about its reliability and authenticity when it has become a normality, 5G capabilities will give more flexibilities for content creation and demonstration.
With the ultra-fast speed of 5G, VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) will be applied to more showcase product details and characteristics. It somehow will shorten the awareness-interest-decision process and improve users’ shopping experience.
However, before picking the platforms, it’s always essential to know their audiences. In China, top players like Taobao, Douyin, and Kaishou are more well-known, but more and more “micro” platforms have become mainstream among their “niche” communities.