What are the top 2015 buzzwords in China?

Having a look at Chinese tradition and culture will help you understand how the world’s biggest population live. A helpful insight for marketers trying to integrate the massive Chinese market, and especially when it comes to digital marketing strategies. Indeed, with China’s large crowd of Internet users (642 million in 2014) and their tendency to share and comment on everything they do online, content can quickly go viral. This means a huge potential for content marketing, and the possibility to make serious business out of it.

By understanding what is important to the Chinese population, we can get an idea of the topics which are heavily discussed online. Not so surprisingly, there are two markets that are gathering a lot of debate among Chinese consumers: the love and property markets. Let’s look at a few buzzwords you should put on your watch list.

Tradition: Chuántǒng 传统

Chinese culture still relies a lot on tradition, even amongst young people who live in big cities. Some consumer choices are dictated by what they have learned from previous generations and they respect this heritage in everyday life. We can see some long-established customs in wedding ceremonies for example, with the Hóngbāo giving (these red envelopes filled with money), the using of firecrackers, or the bribes given to the bride’s family.


When trying to appeal to Chinese customers, adapting to these traditions is very important and will give you a lot of credit.

Modernity: Xiàndài xìng 现代性

On the other hand, China’s rapid development and opening to the world have led to an increasing desire for modernity. Western culture has quite a lot of impact on consumption habits nowadays, especially in cities such as Shanghai or Beijing. If we go back to the wedding market, we can see that Chinese consumers integrate this global influence in their choices: they tend to use the services of wedding planners and photographs or wear white dresses.

This is important for foreign entrepreneurs who should showcase their difference in culture.


Ant tribe: Yǐ zú 蚁族

If getting married is a very important part of life for the Chinese population, work and property are as well. China’s booming economy has led graduates to leave for big cities to pursue their professional careers. However, with the inflation of rent, many cannot afford to live downtown and get stuck in the suburbs and if they don’t have the right connections it will be difficult for them to evolve in such a competitive job market. The name of this tribe originates from the fact that they are intelligent and hard-working people but live in crowded places where they remain anonymous.



This Word has been used many times in China in many advertising campaigns.  The word with no meaning that broke the web  in China

The character “duang” is so new that it does not even exist in the Chinese dictionary. It is the most used Word online in China, appearing more than 8 million times on China’s micro-blogging site Weibo, where it spawned atop-trending hashtag that drew 312,000 discussions among 15,000 users.

On Baidu, it has been looked up almost 600,000 times, but what does Duang really mean?

  • “Everyone’s duang-ing and I still don’t know what it means! Looks like it’s back to school for me,”
  • “Have you duang-ed today? My mind is full of duang duang duang.”
  • “To duang or not to duang, that is the question “

“Duang” is an example of onomatopoeia, a word that phonetically imitates a sound. It starts with Jackie Chan, who in 2004 was featured in a shampoo commercial where he said famously defended his sleek, black hair using the rhythmical-sounding “duang”.

Duang resurfaced again recently after Chan posted it on his Weibo page. Thousands of users then began to flood Chan’s Weibo page with comments, coining the word in reference to his infamous shampoo appearance. source

Rat tribe: Shǔ zú 鼠族

Another tribe at the center of conversations is the Rat tribe. These people are unskilled workers who have left their rural hometowns to come and work in big cities. In order for them to live close to their workplaces, they usually end up in underground basement accommodations, hence their nickname. Although they are difficult to spot, it is a widespread practice and it appears that 5% of Beijingers live in this type of property.


Ghost cities: Guǐchéng 鬼城

While workers leave their hometowns for big cities, municipalities receive massive financial incentives when urbanizing rural areas … leading to an increasing number of deserted cities. Although they might look like critical issues, for now, these ghost cities might welcome future workers once infrastructure and facilities are fully developed, and therefore represent a high potential for businesses.

Ghost city

International Property Investment: Zhōngguó mǎifáng tuán 中国买房团

For those successful Chinese citizens, property concerns lead them to the international market. There are several reasons for them to look at global locations. First of all, it is for them a way to provide a better education for their children. Also, food safety and pollution play a big role in this decision.

The investment of Chinese real estate in other countries increased by more than 200% between 2012 and 2014: a huge market that is expected to keep on growing.

Mobile lover: Shǒujī liànrén 手机恋人

Getting married, having a good job, owning your own places… a lot of pressure is put on Chinese young adults by their elders. And for those who cannot succeed in finding a partner before 30, parents can get quite pushy and even try to mingle with their love life and suggest potential lovers. This was seen as an opportunity to online giants and a paid service on Taobao now allows you to find a virtual boyfriend or girlfriend who will send you messages. The website even offers a “rent a boyfriend” service thanks to which one can hire somebody to act as a partner.

The love market is a big deal in China and there are a lot of possibilities for creative entrepreneurs.

Mobile lovers

Single’s Day: Guānggùn jié 光棍节

Buzzword was created by the giant Alibaba… The best example of how the love market can be translated into sales is China’s Single Day. It takes place on November 11th or 11-11 and a link is made between the four ones and Chinese singletons. The online giant Alibaba made it a sales opportunity by establishing annual discounts on Tmall, its shopping website. Today, Single’s Day is the world’s busiest shopping day: online purchases in China went over 9 billion dollars on Tmall and Taobao in 2014.

TMALL singles day

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