In this long article, you will find the top 7 marketing strategies for China in 2022, illustrated with case studies and concrete examples. There have been numerous articles and posts talking about China’s phenomenal economic growth. China is a massive market for every industry or its exciting technological development. It has transformed Chinese people into the most digitalized consumers in the world.

Marketing Advice China: What are the channels & media you have to use to promote your brand/company in the Chinese market in 2022?

  1. Engaging Content video
  2. Baidu Mobile SEO
  3. WeChat
  4. Chinese Short Video app: Douyin & Kuaishou
  5. RED -Xiaohongshu
  6. Weibo
  7. Forums such as Zhihu

Check out the video by our founder Olivier Vérot to learn more about the channels and media mentioned in the list above.

MARKETING TO CHINA AGENCY

We are the top and most visible Web & Marketing Agency for China you will find on the web. Our Services: E-Commerce, Search Engine Optimization, Advertising, Weibo, WeChat, WeChat Store & PR.

Now on to the 8 marketing strategies that will make your business stronger in China

Top 8 Marketing Strategy for China (2022)

  1. Branding is everything in China: Brand Building and Ereputation First
  2. Social Media as a Brand awareness Tool
  3. Engagement will make the difference
  4. KOL as sale channels
  5. e-Commerce is more powerful than retail
  6. Explore niche & specialized platforms
  7. PR, Chinese forums, and content marketing
  8. Chinese website couples with Baidu SEO

For the past decade, numerous global brands have entered China. And now they see it as their main arena for growth as well as new, smaller businesses looking for opportunities to make a fortune in this country. The most important question remains as to what digital marketing strategy works well in China.

key marketing strategy for china

Your overseas reputation or financial capabilities may grant you certain advantages. However, both international companies and start-ups face similar challenges when it comes to understanding Chinese consumers and their buying behaviors.

China’s unique, ever-changing digital ecosystem as well as the way people live and interact in it. Having worked with and helped numerous brands across different industries establish their brand names in China. Here are the top marketing strategies to succeed in China market in this article.

1. China Marketing Advice: Branding is everything

It is not exaggerated to say that Chinese consumers are scared of new and unknown brands.

China is huge and thus the Chinese market is a complicated one in the sense that there are countless producers. Yes, merchants are selling everything you need for life here. Meanwhile, the legal system to protect consumers from fake goods is not yet as fully developed as in the West.

IN CHINA BRANDING IS EVERYTHING

Many consumers have been cheated with counterfeit products, fake reputable brands, and domestic brands that are expensive but of poor quality. Accordingly, they become paranoid and cautious toward less recognized or unbranded products.

Additionally, Chinese people buy brands not only for the functions they have but also to reflect their social status. Moreover, they improve how other people perceive them. Chinese consumers are willing to pay more if the brand can bring them prestige and respect among their social circle. That’s why luxury consumer products enjoy such phenomenal growth in China for the past 2 decades.

Brand awareness should be your priority of focus if you are new to China. So, how to increase your brand awareness?

2. Social media marketing is of paramount importance to build e-reputation in China

Unsurprisingly for a country with 1.4 billion people, China possesses a massive amount of citizens on social media. The country beats out Japan, the United States, and South Korea in the percentage of its population that uses them A huge chunk of users is digital natives (gen Z) or Millenials.

In a new McKinsey survey of nearly 6,000 Chinese Internet users. It was found that 95% of people who live in large Chinese cities have an account with at least one social network.

Not only that, but China’s social network users are far more active than in other countries. With 91% of them saying they had visited a social app site in the past six months.

promote watch in china - gma case study

The McKinsey survey also shows that social networks have a larger impact on the buying decisions of Chinese consumers than on those of any other country.

If a Chinese consumer sees a product being discussed positively on an SM, especially by a friend or acquaintance, they are far more likely to actually purchase the product than their counterpart in other countries. Peer recommendations have a huge influence on Chinese culture, as formal institutions are less likely to be trusted.

China’s social network landscape is fragmented and sophisticated. Today, we are taking a deeper look at WeChat and Weibo in comparison as well as other more niche and specialized. platforms so that brands have an overall picture. For a better deep dive into all major Chinese social networks, please, check our Top 10 Chinese Social media guide where we look at all the marketing features of these channels.

Weibo & Wechat: Marketing Advice for the Top Social Media Platform in China

Weibo and WeChat are the two largest social networking platforms in China. They both exert significant influence in Chinese society and play an indispensable role in modern life.

What is Wechat

Wechat is the most powerful APP in China. It is the personal messaging app, social media platforms, online payment tool, online shopping place, and more; all included in just ONE app. WeChat’s ambition is to integrate itself into every aspect of the daily life of customers. It is helping them perform different activities without leaving the app.

WECHAT INTERESTING DATA CHINA TOP SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM

Wechat is a great app to generate private traffic through an official account and every other tool available to businesses on the app. The aim of private traffic in China is to build loyalty through traffic acquired on social media accounts.

What is Weibo

Meanwhile, Weibo is a more open platform where users come to socialize with friends and new people. To entertain themselves, watch videos as well as discover trendy topics or hot social information.

SINA WEIBO DATA OF TOP CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS

Celebrities, famous bloggers, media outfits, and government departments. And ordinary users all create and share content on Weibo, making it a very bustling and exciting social hub to hang out.

3. Generate awareness through content marketing: Weibo vs Wechat

No matter which platform you choose to do your branding on a Chinese social network, high-quality content that users repost or share is the most important element. Unique, informative, and interesting content will engage followers and attract new ones.

Understand the nature of Chinese online platforms to use them properly

After registering an official account on both Wechat and Weibo, brands can post content or push feeds to their subscribers.

  • Weibo is an open platform where even non-followers can view your Weibo posts and the posting default setting is public. In addition, everyone can also see the reposts, comments, or likes.
perfum brand promotion in china by gma
Gisada opted for Wechat and Weibo Marketing Campaigns to enter the Chinese consumer market

Therefore, Weibo is very suitable for viral campaigns or viral content, which aim to boost brand awareness extensively and help you grow your potential Chinese customers base

  • Unlike Weibo, WeChat is a closed community. Normally, WeChat users can only see posts pushed by official accounts to which they subscribe. So your followers on Wechat tend to be more condensed and targeted.
wechat-subcription-account
The “Subscriptions” folder in WeChat shows the official accounts you subscribe to and all their push messages

Content on Weibo vs Wechat

  • In terms of content type, on Weibo, businesses can make use of the media-rich nature of Weibo to create multimedia content including things like videos, pictures, live streaming, and adding emojis to their posts. Besides, the “@tag” function enables users to tag relevant parties in the posts, while the “#hashtag” function leads users to a dedicated page that garners all posts with the same topic.
weibo post hashtag
To reach Chinese consumers, Create Engaging Content with Multimedia, tags, and hashtags on Weibo
  • On WeChat, the content that users like to repost is interactive with text and photos/audio/video. This makes it a good place for long, detailed articles to introduce a business but also and mainly to share interesting tips. The language style is also more formal and more professional. Remember to highlight the most essential parts so that it’ll be easy for readers to skim. Attractive visuals and a well-designed layout are also important to retain readers.
seedap instant noodle china
Seedap on Wechat – by GMA

The two apps help you Engage with your Chinese customers… on different levels

Interactive campaigns are another important aspect of Wechat and Weibo marketing. Users like to take part in interesting and creative campaigns for a prize.

Interact with your Chinese audience on Weibo

Promotional campaigns on Weibo are very cost-effective as the platform helps you to reach a large population across different regions in China with a smaller budget. Brands can launch re-post campaigns in which fans would repost a certain message from brands on their walls, content creation campaigns where users are encouraged to contribute organic content related to the brand or products, or Lucky draw.

lancome campaign on weibo
Lancôme’s report campaign on Weibo

Lucky participants will receive valuable awards from the organizers. This is an effective way to generate traffic and gain popularity as well as engage followers.

Interact with your Chinese audience on WeChat
  • On the other hand, WeChat Official Accounts are also capable of hosting unique and creative campaigns with HTML (H5) pages. Brands can launch H5 campaigns with a variety of creative features, such as voting, games, quizzes, and more!
  • To motivate your audience and encourage participation, obviously attractive incentives should be offered such as discounts and gifts.

However, remember that since WeChat is a closed platform so to promote the campaign you’ll need to encourage sharing, work with KOLs, or invest in WeChat advertising to truly take advantage of the campaign.

Digital Advertising: Run advertisements to reach a wider audience 

Rather than depending solely on organic traffic, brands can run advertisements on Wechat and Weibo to reach a larger audience.

Weibo has introduced several advertising packages which include display ads, search engine promotion, newsfeed ads, and video ads, which are popular with local and western companies in many industries.

WeChat provides fewer advertising options for verified accounts: Moments Ads and Account Ads. For more information on WeChat ads, you can check the official WeChat website here.

4. Influencer marketing with KOLs (key opinion leaders) Helps you to Gain the trust of Chinese Consumers

Key opinion leaders play an important role in your digital marketing strategy. The rise of Kol had an important impact on the Chinese culture of consumption as Chinese consumers are looking up to them for suggestions and confirmation.

On the Chinese market, KOL can be bloggers, celebrities, authorities, or professionals in a certain industry that have a huge number of followers/ subscribers.

The social influence of KOLs is enormous. Their posts not only reach a large and loyal audience but also influence significantly the purchase decisions of their fans.

cosmetics brand promotion in china

Brand awareness will expand and brand equity will be reinforced through the credibility of KOLs with who they cooperate.

The most common form of cooperation with KOLs involves sponsored content creation. Brands find a KOL who likes their products and is a good fit for their positioning. They then negotiate and arrange for them to write promotional articles and recommend their products or services.

KOLs can also share/ repost messages of brands or co-organize online campaigns.

The other benefit of Kol is market segmentation. You won’t hire the same Kol to reach Chinese customers in lower tier cities as you would for shanghai or Beijing for instance.

Read as well: China Marketing Kols Guide

5. China Social eCommerce Craze

Social commerce is gaining traction in China. This is understandable when social media is already a place for Chinese consumers to discover new brands, and read reviews/ opinions/ experiences of other people with products and services before making purchases.

The online shopping function of Chinese social networks just makes the whole buying process faster, and more convenient and thus the conversion rate of social commerce is very high. Today we are just looking at Weibo and Wechat but most major Chinese social media such as douyin, RED, and so on have their own integration online shopping store for brands

Sell with Weibo

Weibo Window enables users to link their e-commerce shops to their Weibo accounts. It can promote direct sales as users can browse all product listings on a single page, or may purchase it right after reading product reviews on the platform.

Sell with Wechat

Different from Weibo, Wechat has its own online payment tool – WeChat Pay which is very powerful in driving sales on the platform.

Brands can open Wechat shops, which are linked to their official accounts to sell their products or services. These shops are very well-integrated with Wechat by using its interface, online payment, chat function for customer service, log-in, and sharing functions …

exemple of wechat store
WeChat mini-program store

Buyers can easily access and browse shops smoothly as well as make purchases with one-click payment without leaving the app for an e-commerce platform.

You can build your own e-commerce website and integrate the WeChat API for some of the WeChat-specific functions. Or, you can use 3rd-party platforms to create WeChat shops fast and for cheap.

6. Explore niche and specialized Chinese social Networks to reach a super-targeted audience

A solid presence on Wechat and Weibo is a must. However, it is increasingly competitive to get your brands noticed by customers in the noise of millions of posts, tweets, and campaigns happening every second on those well-known sites.

Meanwhile, you can take a look into more specialized platforms which serve unique niches. These smaller, passion-based networks allow western companies to connect with conversations that really matter and drive authentic traffic to your business.

Here are some niche social media platforms that are growing in popularity:

XiaoHongShu (Little Red Book): females’ world of fashion and cosmetics

Xiaohongshu is both a social media and e-commerce platform focusing on cosmetics and fashion, if you are a business evolving in that realm and want to make it in China, invest!.

XIAO HONG SHU CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA ECOMMERCE PLATFORM FOR BEAUTY AND LIFESTYLE BRANDS

Brands or KOLs on this platform can directly influence sales through the useful content that they generate for users, making this a very attractive platform for cosmetics, fashion, and luxury brands.

Xueqiu (Snowball): Equity & Finance Social Network

Founded in 2010, Xueqiu is the one-stop platform to discuss and learn about a wide range of financial services. This could be the ideal platform for foreign companies in the financial or real estate industries that want to enter the Chinese market and reach out to target Chinese consumers.

Keep: The Hub of Health and Fitness Enthusiasts

Launched in February 2015, Keep is a platform dedicated to the health and fitness niche. This platform is a great choice for international companies and brands that want to take part in the rise of the fitness industry in China.

Mafengwo: Chinese people’s favorite tour guide

As Chinese travelers are increasingly sophisticated and knowledgeable, they prefer to create their own unique travel experiences. Many navigate to Mafengwo to help them plan their trips.

For businesses in the tourism industry, this is the ideal place for marketing in China.

To conclude on the role of Chinese Social networks in your marketing effort

It will require a lot of investment for foreign brands that are determined to build a proper presence on all social networks.

WeChat and Weibo are absolutely necessary since brands would not be perceived as important and big if they are not available on these 2 most dominant platforms.

On the other hand, adding niche social media would help foreign brands reach the audience who are truly interested in related products and services. The competition is not as tough and marketing costs are lower.

7. PR, Chinese forums and content marketing

Another powerful strategy is to tap into the large and active user groups on local forums. Forums in the West may be outdated but in China, it’s still significant. Large communities of similar interests gather on different forums to discuss their favorite topics.

For international brands, forums can be a source of valuable insights into your targeted customers as well as a place to seed your content strategy to increase brand awareness, expertise, and image.

zhihu and pr

In addition, peer reviews are highly influential in a collectivist society. Consumers really care about the feedback from other consumers. Positive discussions about brands online can greatly lead to more trust and sales, but negative ones spread fast like cancer and damage the brand image.

Therefore, it is critical for brands to involve, monitor, and promote a positive reputation across forums.

Another advantage of being active on forums is that posts on forums rank highly on Baidu, thus contributing to your visibility on the most popular search engine.

Here are some of the most popular forums in China:

  • Baidu Tieba 百度贴吧 – 43 Million MAU
forum marketing china - baidu-tieba-thailand-sub-forums-tourism-china-marketing

It is known for allowing users to create their own “吧” (sub-forums), about any topic under the sun, such as your favorite idol, your favorite game, your city, or even your high school.

  • Zhihu 知乎 – 94 Million MAU
zhihu orm tool for china marketing strategy

Zhihu provides good information and analysis on a wide range of topics, and there are lots of famous people actively participating in discussions.

If you want to know the opinions of “intellectual elites”, Zhihu is the best place to go.

  • Douban Group 豆瓣小组 – 300 Million MAU
douban forum one plus mobile phone promo

Douban has a reputation for being a community of young intellectuals. Anything from literature to minimalism to travel is being discussed here within communities of like-minded people.

Besides, we have Tianya.cn – China’s most active forum-based website for public issue awareness while Sina and 163 are two of the biggest portal websites in China with sections devoted to real estate, education, economy, and fashion.

8. Chinese website couples with Baidu SEO

You will need a website in china: you should see it not as a separate hub of information but as a part of the digital ecosystem that consumers would pass till they reach the buying stage.

sedaap chinese website by gma

What to keep in mind before launching your website in China

  • Well-integrated with social media

When you create a website, you need to look at all the points at which social media popular in china can be utilized. For example, WeChat or QQ should be used for logins to a website built for China.

While virtually every Chinese netizen has an email address, it is used far less than you might expect. Inputting a mobile phone number and receiving a unique SMS confirmation, is much more widespread.

Youku or QQ video should be built into a Chinese website for embedding videos, and WeChat pay and/or Alibaba’s Alipay should be the payment method integrated.

  • Design and UX

UX or design requires thoughtfully and methodically consideration of factors such as environment, attention span, and screen space. As with anywhere, it is highly important that the purpose and audience are clearly defined when creating a website for China.

royalmansour-gma-case-study-website

China is a mobile-first country, so your website must be adapted for mobile devices usage. Additionally, integrating the website that you create for China with WeChat or building a Chinese WeChat minisite will create a more seamless user experience.

Besides, when looking to build Chinese websites, the content architecture, image choice, and user flow must be evaluated for the Chinese audiences.

  • To succeed in China, a Business Localized content instead of translated content

The Chinese language is full of high-contextual meaning and your website will have to be using the Chinese language (Chinese characters). International businesses can not afford to be cheap! You should hire professionals for your china content.

When creating a website for China, it is important to keep in mind that the content should speak directly to your target market: the Chinese consumer.

Rather than hire a translator, hire a copywriter with knowledge in your specific industry that can adapt and polish your content for a Chinese audience.

  • Domain and Hosting

If you want your website to rank on Chinese search engines, your website must be hosted in China.

To host your website in China, your Chinese website domain name must be managed by a Chinese registrar, your organization must be registered in China, and you must apply for an ICP license.

An ICP license is a permit issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology that is mandatory for China-based websites to operate in China.

Applying for an ICP license can take some time, so it is important to plan this in advance when you build a Chinese website.

A website is pointless if not seen on Baidu

Similar to the West, search engine optimization is one important pillar of your digital marketing plan. And in the Chinese market, Baidu is king

Considering that +80% of Chinese consumers conduct intensive searches online (either on search engines, social media, or e-commerce platforms) to learn about products or services, being visible on Baidu is very critical to capturing targeted traffic to your website ultimately generating sales.

why do you need baidu seo
The search engine market in China is also fragmented with various players. However, Baidu is dominant with nearly 80% market share. 

In China, Baidu holds the most market share. A myriad of smaller and vertical search engines like Google CN, Sogou, Soso, eTao, and Qihoo 360 exist – each caters to a specific target group.

Knowing which China Search Engine to invest in and the right budget allocation makes all the difference in your search ROI.

In addition, an integrated search engine strategy that combines both China Search Engine Marketing (SEM PPC) and China Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is also important to your overall China Search Marketing ROI.

Need Top China Marketing Advice? Contact the #1 Agency for Marketing in China

In a market where online channels are constantly evolving, having people that know the place like their pocket can be a previous help.

GMA: A DIGITAL MARKETING AGENCY STORY‘S

  • Started in a small flat… in 2012
  • Story of 2 guys who focus on Performance and ROI that wanted to help brands with their marketing in China
  • Pioneer of Online Marketing in China (when People did not even know what Digital Meant)

GMA TODAY

  • Digital Expert
  • +1K clients already (Europe, Russia, Asia America)
  • A team of 70 marketers trained to perform in China

WHY YOU NEED TO CONTACT US NOW

  • Brand Audit – we help you understand your Chinese audience and your competitors as well as the best marketing channels for your business.
  • We imagine the right marketing strategy to level up your Brand marketing both on Online and Offline channels.

To successfully market your business in China, forget about western marketing, and listen to what Chinese customers want.

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4 Comments

  1. The reason I ask to work with your agency is because I am a great admirer of China and Chinese
    Culture. From the ’80 s, I was in China to produce apparel for my family company and have discovered your world. I appreciate a lot how you have developed the wellness of your Country
    and your vision in the last 20 years to evolve your economy from just production for other countries into an INNOVATIVE development. I believe that a so great intelligent evolution is due to the combination of your ancient, deep, amazing culture and the “pragmatic” western culture. And, I strongly believe that the result of this innovative approach is not simply an interesting economic and business opportunity, but can create also a new HUMANISTIC world. I mean that “globalisation” is not simply an open and free space for trading, but also a new world culture where all the cultures consider each other as a tool for inspiration and improving our mind.
    As I am a creative and “ a lover of the past and a nostalgic of the future”, I was always attracted from creative People like your Founder: Jack Ma. Because I am sad to see that in Western Countries, still now, are many people that consider China as a stranger, with some friends like Giulio Prigioni, former Italian Ambassador in China and Rotary Club in which I am an associate, I will organise meetings to explain to the People that discover the Chinese ancient culture and the current skill of China is something very important to know and the best approach to collaborate each others.
    A mix of the Chinese Culture and the Western Culture will something exceptional, awesome!
    Moreover, I have a Friend in central italy that is a great Artist and an Innovator. He invented a way to reproduce paintings from ancient, to Renaissance till modern artworks. He delivers painting to all world famous museums. He is so clever that has created three levels of technic: from the very high till the affordable level also by price for normal people of taste. I suggested him that he has to develop also the Chinese market because is the FUTURE!
    And from my point of view, it could be also a way to let discover to Chinese people what is really the SOURCE of the WESTERN CULTURE that is ITALY that has absorbed the ancient Greece culture and widespread and universalised in the wold from the MAGNA GRECIA, to the ROMAN EMPIRE, till the RENAISSANCE. As one of my mentor, Steve Jobs, said that there is no innovation without economic success, I can combine both: Business and Culture and can let discover to the Chinese People the REAL deep VALUE of the Western Culture that is ITALY!!!
    Many thanks again and best regards. Gianni

  2. Let’s get real here. A lot of business consulting today in China is all about your mindset and your emotions.
    But they don’t focus on implementing proven business strategies that actually grow a business.

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