How to target expats in China ?

Today we are discussing a unique theme, not really often treated … How to hit expats on the Chinese market? Yes, these immigrants from around the world, with a fairly high wage in general, and who have very specific consumption patterns…

Many companies target this type of consumer, especially in Shanghai, with nightclubs, Chinese schools, restaurants, ecommerce websites with imported products, specific shops … Are they easily managing to communicate with their target … not always which is precisely why we are making this article.



The expat is on internet


I think the expat is very connected, and connects regularly on Facebook to connect with friends, family of his home country. You can also find the expat on specific Facebook groups such as Shanghai French People, which includes much of the (young) Francophone community in Shanghai, or Shanghai Business Network focused more on community Businessmen in Shanghai.

Although Facebook is blocked, we almost all use VPN, to access the web…

To reach expatriates, have a targeted communication on Facebook allows us to reach a large part of the relevant target.




Expats in need to connect to share very specific information, use forums. While this tends to slightly decline, the forums are always a good way to communicate with others and to find people who are in the same issues than oneself. Bonjour Chine  or Shanghai Expat are typically the kind of forum that expatriates use in China.

The communication on the forums is always difficult … Either you post too commercial things and was at great risk of being banned or banners are used by negotiating with forums’ administrators. Maybe Mike will guide us on the subject … How companies can communicate in a smart way on a forum.

Specialized website

There are sites followed by expats, in Shanghai for example, Shanghaiist will be followed for information on buzzes in China or SmartShanghai  to know the addresses of restaurants and special offers. These sites are known in the expat community living in Shanghai, Beijing we prefer the Beijinger. And if you want to be more informed about news and more pro marketing, the website Marketing to China is the reference.

To reach laowai, have an attractive communication on these sites allow to become known, with interesting press releases most of the time or with banners…



On Smartshanghai, we see clearly that the banners are used by local actors to communicate.


And yes, the expat regularly uses Google … He will use Google to search full of information necessary for its survival. Travel, food activities, housing, News, or business… a foreigner in China must read information on China, on customs, on what happens in China or in the world. Google is the reference search engine, and very few turned to Baidu.

Have good positions in SEO is a paying strategy for the midterm and long term and can position a business as a reference?

If you have noticed, a strategy of our agency is to associate a Google visibility with high-value content.

Sans titre


Expats usually have a LinkedIn account useful for business and have professional information on their activity. LinkedIn is used by Pros, and there are many groups conversations.



Young expats very often use WeChat, Tencent’s application to exchange with their Chinese friends, increasingly for business (Chinese) and connect themselves among friends into groups.



The expat is always going out

The expats are generally social animals … Why? Because he needs friends in China, he needs to get out of this kind of loneliness and isolation … a large number of his friends return to their home country so he needs to meet other expats and locals.

The Expat will therefore participate to networking events, meet other laowai in bars, parties or restaurants.

The expat has a higher standard of living in general, his apartment is paid with his own money. The young immigrant has a less attractive financial condition, work a lot and needs to build a useful network for his career…

Other remarks or tips to share with us? Please comment below…

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