Top 10 Marketing Trends in China

What are the trends in Chinese Marketing at the end of 2012? Let’s see together my point of view about this market. Marketing never stops changing, and have to adapt to the consumption and the habits of Chinese people.

Branding, advertising, and budgets are constantly changing. A big question that always obsesses marketers is: What are the trends of Marketing in China today?



Will digital marketing be a big trend this year again or not? The concept is not new in China, but change seems constant.
Increasingly, brands are using digital media to reach their targets with the ultimate goal: commitment.
Marketers must understand, integrate and develop skills, tools, and platforms to thrive in this “digital arena.”
How do you use the right channel at the right time, to achieve a good performance and a good result? We need to know the advantage and the chances of success for the different numerical solutions to develop a specific plan for integrated digital planning. In 2011, digital trends include social marketing, content marketing, and mobile marketing services to name a few. These will be the main discussion points for all advertisers, agencies, and media owners.

1. Community Management

Brands must understand their target. Social networks are a phenomenon in China, especially companies like SinaWeibo, which is becoming the leading Chinese SNS. They boast 350 million subscribers (about 550 million Internet users). Time spent on social networks increased by 40% on Weibo and users log into their accounts 6 days a week. There has been a socialization of business on Weibo. If you are interested in that topic, you can read our article about Digital marketing in China.



How to get utilization, visibility, and optimal interactivity on this platform? The pioneers were already out and took a step ahead of the laggards. There are Weibo true thought leaders in the business. Today the mass population is found on Weibo, to share the ups and downs of their life, to interact with friends, and with people with similar interests. Today, Weibo is more than ever considered the primary source of information in China before traditional media.

2. Content Marketing

It is the act of giving customers helpful information to facilitate their purchase or influence their decision…

Did you know that content is the most important thing in social marketing? We don’t communicate in the same way in China today. In Europe, we “product” (produce?) some good information to encourage “Weibotizens” to follow us. There exist several types of content: videos, product placement, partnerships, program Ambassadors, events relayed online, unveiling the new collection, give information on the unusual company, brand, and products, preferably for non-commercial use.
We have seen in China the development of product placement commending a significant presence in the digital advertising world.

See more information about Live streaming of your products on social media.

3. Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing will be the main challenge for all Marketers this year. For the first time in China, mobile phone users top at 388 million. This number exceeded those who use their computers to connect themselves to others (380 million). Therefore China became the world’s largest market for smartphones.
The number of Internet users who watch videos via their mobile phones has exceeded one hundred million. Growth in the number of online users globally is at a lower rate than those using mobile.

This report from CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center) (China Internet) clearly shows the strategic role of smartphones in the daily lives of Chinese people. New technologies such as location-based services (LBS) and augmented reality (AR) offer new opportunities for mobile marketing. Firms should also adapt to these techniques. The traditional banner no longer has the visual impact to catch customers’ eyes due to the limited size of the screens.
The popularity of smartphones (iPhone, Android) also raises a series of questions: Should we make applications? What to do? How to update and maintain the content? Can we use the LBS? How can we create envy(?? What are you trying to say) with AR?
The smartphone is a very personal tool with high customization. It provides opportunities in our marketing solutions.

4. Responsible marketing

Chinese society is constantly changing. Elite opinion leaders are fighting for ideals for a better China. Weibo helped highlight these people who are responsible for pushing for change. Many Chinese brands have felt this wave and have developed programs. Baidu, the largest search engine has launched a vast operation: Baidu’s fights against hunger in China.
This trend is rising, sometimes poorly controlled, sometimes exaggerated but it could be developed in the coming years.

5. Leaders Rely on opinions

Communication via social networks is essential, which dominates social networks and opinion leaders. These are people who have a community, which is the symbol of a cause, or who are recognized experts in their domain who rely on these opinion leaders, these experts have become strategic for business. The marks must now include these figures in their campaign, and try to involve them.



There are personalities “for sale” on Weibo with powerful influence on followers, with many followers whose purpose is to sell their posts to brands.
This model tends to be developing in the digital marketing world. Micro bloggers have developed accounts to have millions of fans and then monetize their posts, in the same way as the sponsored articles that had been controversial in France. Hanhan, a committed blogger has sold his image to Nescafe, Johny Walker andor VANCL.
Ambassadors: some brands have chosen to implement programs with ambassadors, and experts and select them to become the ambassadors of their brands.
The use of celebrities is common. Most celebrities, including celebrities, have never been present in advertising, Fan Bingbing, and Yao Chen Yaoming use Weibo.
These opinion leaders are able to set trends and influence the community. They are excellent spokespeople for brands because they are followed by a large community, they have a certain visibility and they affect a community and are looked up to.

6. O2O

The Chinese are certainly connected, but they also like reality. Many brands have realized that relaying the offline, in real life online was particularly effective. It seems logical to me you tell me … but hardly implemented. In China, the events have never been so numerous and relayed by online pictures or videos. For instance, major luxury brands are organizing events for their VIP customers, organize parades, and concerts … and sometimes relayed this information to increase online visibility. Street marketing operations that transform into Buzz on the web, this phenomenon was not new but has a tendency to grow. The QR code also develops and responds to the desire to link online to offline. Yet created in 1999, it is now that we are beginning to see China’s “QRcodiser” as more or less clever. The QR code is a barcode type of two-dimensional consisting of modules arranged on a black square white background. This QR Code is intended to be read by a bar code via a mobile phone. The development of 3G in China has greatly facilitated the use of this practice.

7. Management of Crisis

China is a complex country, and the pervasiveness of government in business and in the lives of Chinese citizens makes foreign brands not immune to scandal. Brands in the food industry in China have been particularly affected by crises. Increasingly, companies are implementing crisis management cells, in order to get the information quickly and to react accordingly. The best case study is McDonald’s and KFC; these were perfect examples of crisis management.

mac Do China

Following a government attack on one of these stores, the company has managed to avoid the conflict and defuse the bomb before it explodes. There are monitoring tools to scan the net Chinese, and to keep alert for possible waves of criticism. Control of its online reputation in China begins to develop.

8. Western branding

In China, western branding is becoming more and more reputable, especially among Chinese companies. It communicates the origin of the brand and ensures a certain level of quality of the product.
The Chinese are well aware that Western brands have a better reputation, a better image quality, and a higher margin for up marketing.

9. Co-branding

Reminder: co-branding is a marketing or commercial practice which aims to promote simultaneously two separate companies.
The meeting of the two brands is presented via the creation of a co-branded product mixing two products or advertising involving several brands in order to reduce the investment in advertising, and have a greater impact. Partnership “brand” or “business” is fashionable and just beginning to develop..

Here is an example of companies that have decided to join with this promotional video:



10. Cross-Media

Many thinkers have developed this algorithm with respect to the Cross-Media 1 +1> 2 which means that multiple sources of communication can increase the presence, improve visibility, and much more.

It would be interesting to mix traditional media and digital media, to vary the presence and reach different types of consumers in different places. But integration is not so easy and the big problem for brands is measuring the efficiency with this kind of process.

Olivier VEROT

See the french version on Marketing Chine


  • Olivier SERONVEAUX

    Dear Sir, Madam,

    Dear Sir ,Madam,

    Working in a maketing department that deal with China ,its habits ,its society ,its trends ,…
    would be like a consecration for me ! Indeed ,graduated in marketing managment and post graduated in international and multicultural management , both tesis I wrote dealt with China , its pulsating society and its growing economy.
    Therefor, I write you this message to ask you if you had any advice to give me or if you had any job offer for me or only if you could send me your détails so I can wite you a spontaneous application.
    I invite you to answer me at the adress written here above

    I look forward to read you,

    Olivier SERONVEAUX

  • Hi Philip,

    Your article was very insightful about marketing across various channels in China. Do you know what is the size and spend of China’s marketing industry?


  • Great article Philip, I think it will be interesting to see what happens this year in China and what new trends will emerge. Keep up the good work.

  • Great article Philip, it is real pleasure to read such a refreshing thoughts. I am very interested in research of the Chinese marketing practice and plan to come to China and be part of all these movements. Thank you for very helpful and inspiring articles and hope to collaborate soon. Best wishes!

  • some articals are very interesting and make sense on b2b marketing and inbound strategy espcially in prefessional service category. Cheers!

  • Great article, Philip, and great job of handling your “new challenge”. I look forward to future posts!

    All the Best to You,

  • Please check out my international business blog on my website: I have written a number of blogs on China. Are you a students or are you working?

    • Hi Ken, I’m now working and you?

      • Saroj Gurung

        Dear Philip,

        I am Saroj and I run a travel agent here in Nepal. Would you like to work with my company in bringing Chinese tourist here in Nepal.

        If willing, we would be more than happy to further this proposal.

        Best regards,

      • Kenneth Gondry

        Hi Philip, A work of genius. Truly,fantastic. Yes, I work in Phuket. Beautiful lifestyle,hard work but very satisfying to help people.

        Keep up your great work.

        Kindest Regards,


        Kenneth Gondry,
        Sales and Marketing Manager,

Leave your comment