Over the past three years, the popularity of short videos and their platforms has gained significant attention from media, brands, and consumers.
Despite this, not many brands have been able to achieve successful campaigns on these emerging platforms compared to more established social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo.
This article is dedicated to giving you an overview of China’s short video market as well as strategies for brands to capitalize on this trend.
China’s Generation Z is Hooked on Short Video Apps
Short videos are delicious, bitty snippets of content that China can’t get enough of. It has become an increasingly important component of Chinese users’ leisure.
Chinese people averagely spend more than 60 minutes daily on short video apps, becoming an important component of the Chinese social media landscape.
Short video apps are even more prevalent than online payment tools. 80% of China’s netizens use short video apps, according to a report from the China Internet Network Information Center.
In March 2023, the number of monthly active users of short videos in China amounted to 941 million, up 1.7 percent compared to the same period of last year. On average, Chinese internet users spent about 57 hours on short videos per month during the spring of 2023, which was four hours more than a year prior.
Douyin, the original Chinese version of TikTok developed by Bytedance, remained the leader in China’s short-formed video scene, being one of the most popular social media platforms in the country. As of November 2022, the app boasted to have 731 million active users across the country. Its closest rival, Kuaishou saw a rapid active user growth reaching 529 million.
The rise of short-form video is in line with the content consumption behavior of China’s mobile-driven internet users.
As their time has become more fragmented, they long for something short that contains enough entertaining information. Also, because they are mostly consuming content via their mobile devices while they’re on the go, the shorter the content is, the better.
Who are the viewers?
Short-form video apps have been around since early this decade in China, but their popularity has exploded over the past three years thanks to a growing new segment of consumers known as Generation Z.
The main users of China’s short video apps belong to the post-90s generation. Over half of the users were 24 or younger. And those under 35 made up more than 85%.
Approximately 45 percent of the short video users in China were above 46 years old, up from about 41.3 percent compared to the same month in the previous year.
In terms of regions, 66.9 percent of the total comes from third-tier and below-third-tier cities in China. The top 3 provinces for viewer numbers are Guangdong, Henan, and Shandong.
Celebrities on the mainland use Chinese social media apps and short videos to engage with their fans, while many Gen Z users had adopted the format as a way to express themselves. Consumers like to access these entertaining videos to fill in short breaks during the day and between other activities.
Short Videos – an Excellent Way to Engage Customers
Brands are turning to short video platforms as a cost-effective way to engage with their target audience. These platforms, like Douyin or Kuaishou, offer brands the opportunity to create quality content and connect with users.
Short videos can be used for various promotional purposes, such as product reviews, showcasing products, and promoting brand culture.
By delivering creative and meaningful content in just 10-15 seconds, brands can effectively communicate their messages to their target audience.
Show how to do something
Showing your fans how to do something, for example, solve a problem/ challenge or use your product is perhaps one of the easiest ways to jump into creating short video (and live-streaming) content.
You can provide followers with creative ways to use your products or situations where your products can be applied which are uncommon to think of.
Showcase an event
When a popular event or celebration is coming up on the calendar, it’s likely that others in your industry will be looking for relevant content to share. Clever brands get the jump on a season, event, or celebration by posting short video content that’s primed for sharing.
There are film companies that published movie trailers in short video form and attracted great attention.
Reveal a new product
Revealing a new product on short video apps can be an effective and engaging way to capture the attention of a wide audience. With the popularity of platforms like Douyin and Kuaishou, these apps provide a perfect opportunity to showcase your latest offering in a creative and visually appealing manner.
By creating a short video that highlights the unique features and benefits of your product, you can generate excitement and curiosity among viewers. Whether it’s a sneak peek, a demonstration, or a captivating story, the power of video can leave a lasting impression and drive interest in your new product.
So, if you’re looking to make a memorable impact and reach a large audience, consider utilizing short video apps to reveal your new product in an engaging and visually stunning way.
Go behind the scenes
A short video is a fun way to let your fans see the people behind the business—to show what happens behind closed doors.
Whether it’s a tour of your office, an event you’re attending, or just some behind-the-scenes downtime, showing the fun side of your business can be more effective than just hawking your wares.
Another option is inviting followers to create and upload their own videos, possibly for the chance to win a reward or prize.
In addition, brands can choose to collaborate with KOLs who can export their high-quality content or help spread the word.
The Most Popular Short Video Platforms in China
Among the most popular platforms is Douyin, known internationally as TikTok. Douyin short-video app allows users to create and share short videos, showcasing their creativity and talents.
Another prominent platform on the Chinese social media scene is Kuaishou, which focuses on user-generated content, ranging from funny skits to heartfelt moments.
These popular social media apps have not only provided a source of entertainment but have also become a hub for influencers, allowing them to gain fame and followers through short video clips. With their addictive nature and vast user base, it’s no wonder that these short video platforms have become an integral part of Chinese pop culture.
Comparison of Douyin and Kuaishou
Douyin and Kuaishou are two popular short video platforms in China. While they have some similarities, they also have distinct features that set them apart. Here’s a comparison between the two:
Douyin, also known as the TikTok short-video platform outside of China, has a larger user base compared to Kuaishou. It attracts a younger audience, with a focus on creative and entertaining content. Kuaishou, on the other hand, has a diverse user base, including both urban and rural users, and is known for its emphasis on real-life moments and authenticity.
Douyin is known for its trendy and viral content, often featuring lip-syncing, dance challenges, and creative video editing. Kuaishou, on the other hand, showcases a wider range of content, including daily life, travel, hobbies, and talent performances. It encourages users to share authentic moments from their lives.
Douyin’s algorithm is more sophisticated and personalized, using artificial intelligence to recommend content based on user preferences and behavior. Kuaishou’s algorithm focuses more on the social connections between users, recommending content from friends and family.
Both platforms offer opportunities for content creators to monetize their videos. Douyin provides various advertising options and offers virtual gifts that users can purchase and send to their favorite creators. Kuaishou allows users to receive virtual gifts from their followers, and it also offers e-commerce features, allowing creators to sell products directly within the app.
Douyin has expanded globally as TikTok, gaining popularity in many countries outside of China. Kuaishou, however, has mainly focused on the Chinese market and has a limited international presence.
Two account types on Kuaishou
Individual creator accounts
These accounts are meant for individuals who want to create and share content on Kuaishou. With an individual creator account, you can interact with friends, follow other users, and use the platform as a standard non-commercial user.
This type of account is suitable for artists, sportsmen, key opinion leaders (KOLs), key opinion consumers (KOCs), and anyone who wants to create content for personal or non-commercial purposes.
These accounts are specifically designed for brands and businesses. With a business account, brands can promote their products, raise brand awareness, and communicate with potential customers on Kuaishou.
Business accounts provide additional features and tools for businesses to effectively market their products or services to the Kuaishou community.
Two Account Types on Douyin
Individual creator accounts
This type of account is meant for personal use. It allows users to create and share short videos, follow other users, like and comment on videos, and engage with the Douyin community.
With an individual account, you can enjoy the full range of features available on the platform.
A business account on Douyin is designed for brands, companies, or organizations that want to promote their products or services on the platform. It provides additional features and tools to help businesses reach a wider audience and engage with potential customers.
Business accounts have access to analytics, advertising options, and other marketing tools to enhance their presence on Douyin.
Both individual and business accounts have their own benefits and features, depending on your purpose and goals on the platform.
Bonus: WeChat Channels
Although WeChat is far more than a short-video platform, a few years ago it introduced WeChat Channels, which are a dedicated sub-platform of WeChat for short video content and live-streaming, in a need of answering the demands of the market.
WeChat Channels is a dynamic feature within the comprehensive WeChat ecosystem, serving as a social media and content creation platform for users and businesses. With an interface akin to popular platforms like Douyin and Kuaishou, WeChat Channels allow for the creation, sharing, and engagement with a variety of content types including videos, images, and texts.
Through this feature, users can explore a wide range of content, follow their favorite creators, engage with posts via comments, and express their appreciation through ‘likes’. By making its foray into the sphere of short video and social media platforms, WeChat Channels leverage the platform’s vast user base to foster interactive communication and content dissemination, subsequently driving user engagement and growth.
Tips for Short Video Marketing in China
- Short videos are more suitable for brands in certain categories. According to their users’ characteristics (most of the users are young people), they’re particularly effective for brands in the FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) category, fashion, cosmetics, and IT.
- There are numerous short-video apps to choose from – take time to browse through the features and select the one most suitable for your business.
- Remember that users love and appreciate creative content. Content quality is the key to successful campaigns.
- Celebrities and KOLs now produce the most popular content. Campaigns that cooperate with celebrities and KOLs can achieve better results.
- Through audience interactions with short videos, brands can better understand their preferences, rapidly improve their user experience, and come up with effective marketing plans quickly.
- Share your videos through other platforms such as social media and your website. Attaching hashtags on popular topics may also prove useful for spreading the word.
L’Oréal & Meipai
Taking advantage of the female-dominated demographics of short video platforms, L’Oréal conducted a Halloween campaign on Meipai, encouraging users to upload and share their Halloween makeup videos for a chance to receive a free gift from L’Oréal.
More than 11,000 users uploaded videos and the campaign videos got more than 60 million views.
Shanghai Disneyland & Meipai
Shanghai Disneyland launched a short video campaign on Meipai, where users were encouraged to upload short videos of happy moments at the park using the hashtag #The Most Beautiful Moment in Disney Shanghai (#最美上海迪士尼#).
The purpose was to drive more traffic to their new park. Then Shanghai Disneyland randomly chose participants and sent them gifts and free tickets. This campaign attracted attention from families and young consumers helped increase park visitor numbers and promoted sales.
Short Videos Reinforce the Social Commerce Trend
Most of the social media in China are linked to e-commerce in some ways since browsing on those platforms is a big part of the customer buying journey. Consumers discover new products, read product reviews, and interact with brands on social media before making purchases.
As short video platforms also play as social media where people socialize, have fun, explore content, and interact with brands. These sites have started to expand into the e-commerce business.
Douyin and Kuaishou are now selling products within the platforms.
Kuaishou is allowing selected users to open up what it calls “little shops” within its platform, where users and merchants can link to products from e-commerce marketplaces such as Alibaba’s Taobao as well as WeChat shop platform Youzan within their media posts.
Meanwhile, Douyin launched e-commerce features within their app earlier this year that also allows users to link products on Taobao to their postings.
Not only is video content eye-catching, but it also provides a channel for customers to see how a product looks and feels in real life. This shortens the customer journey, and customers are more likely to make impulse buys.
Short video platforms are giving their young users direct access to online shopping while they watch fun, entertaining videos.
Another advantage to sell on short video apps is that their young users tend to focus less on price comparisons, making monetization easier. For example, if they trust this KOL (key opinion leader), if they can afford this, and if that’s what they need, they buy it.
During the Double 12 Festival (December 12), Douyin’s short videos drove over 200 Million RMB in sales for Taobao.
KOL Zhang Dayi prances along a street in Japan with her friends while wearing a polka-dotted yellow dress, which can be purchased through a Taobao link.
So brands can not only gain significant exposure by interesting and meaningful short videos, especially ones created in collaboration with KOLs but also generate direct sales from these efforts.
We Can Help You Promote Through Short Videos! Contact us!
Short videos have become a powerful tool for brands in China to drive sales and engage with consumers. Platforms like Douyin and Kuaishou have provided brands with new ways to showcase their products in a creative and entertaining manner. These videos have the potential to go viral, reaching a large audience and generating buzz for the brand.
Moreover, short videos seamlessly integrate e-commerce, enabling consumers to make purchases directly within the platform. This combination of entertainment and e-commerce has been highly effective in capturing the attention and purchasing power of Chinese consumers.
Consequently, brands are increasingly utilizing short videos as a key marketing strategy to boost their online sales in China’s competitive e-commerce market.
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