.In Communication/advertising, China is starting a revolution, The Digital Revolution. The Chinese consumer is changing, and spend more and more time on Internet, social media, on his mobile, and likes very much Digital tools… As a good marketer you should be aware to these trends and read this article. 😉

After seeing what are the main marketing trends in China, we will focus on the Digital marketing.

Digital Marketing in China

1-The Internet is the most influential medium in China !

The Internet has became very popular in recent years in China with almost  564 million users in the end of year 2012 (just compare it with the 45 millions of users in France). Internet  network in China has a rather good coverage and can reach the whole country. Nevertheless, the majority of Internet users are people in big cities and in coastal area who are relatively rich.

.old chinese using the internet


2 –  Social Network Services (SNS) are booming in China

Weibo and Weixin are now the two main SNS platforms.

In fact, Chinese are much more social than Westerners. Social networking is a virtual extension of their Guanxi.  Social networks are spaces of free speech and informations sharing so the behaviors of Internet users on these platforms is the best symbol of change in Chinese society .


Mobile generation


3 – One billion mobile users.

In China, there were 999.7 million people connected to the Internet via their smartphones in 2012. E-commerce is increasing as today many consumers spend more time on their smartphone than on their PC. China is becoming the first smartphone market in the world. The two leading brands of 2012 are Apple, Samsung and … Xiaomi which is the new Chinese brand that overtook Nokia.


smartphone in China


4 – Advertising on the Web

Direct advertising invaded their lives, and has relatively little impact. Buzz Marketing techniques, product placement, viral videos, story Stelling … are much more efficient. Buzzs are closely monitored by Chinese Internet users who like to be aware of the latest news. Chinese are big consumers of online video by streaming.


5 – The influence of KOL (Key Opinion Leaders)

KOL campaign works much more in China the in western countries. Consumers have little confidence in direct advertising often broadcasted on CCTV which is more and more considered as an unreliable propaganda tool. Before buying a product,  chinese consumers are accustomed to ask for some advice to their relatives but they will also check on forums or listen to key opinion leaders’ advices. In China, 10% of people affect 90% of the population so key opinion leader, are not to be neglected. These are the people that should be targeted  first.




6 – Interconnection between social medias and classic medias

In China, traditional medias and social networks are interconnected. Mass Medias often relay informations on social media networks. Many private TV chanels have a weibo account. The press also relays buzzes taken from social media.


7 – Fake Weibo accounts

This is what people call zombies or false flag weibo accounts ! This phenomenon is widespread but also increasingly denounced. Fake weibo fans, fake comments, fake clicks, false number of views on a video and the list goes on and on and on… Local webmarketing agencies often cheat their customer on the number of fans or on the number of clicks …
This can build  brand credibility on the short run, but is very bad for user engagement. We have reach the tipping point and brands now want to test the commitment of their true fans.


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.


fake weibo


8 – QR codes are becoming part of the social medias landscape

QR codes are now part of the urban dailylife of chinese. Chinese have perfectly (or almost) integrated the QR codes’ system, which is interlinked with weibo, weixin and other SNS.


QR Code Cake


 9- Tablets in China

China is a new market for tablet computers with a  62% growth rate at least per year. IPad is the leader in China, with over 71% of market share and 17 million tablets sold in the second half of year 2012. Lenovo is the challenger with 10.5% of market share when the South Korean giant Samsung has only 3.5% of the market share. But now other  small local brands are struggling to break through.


Ipad China

10- E-Commerce is booming  in China

China has the second largest population of e-shoppers in the world (145 million people  according to a BCG study) ! With a growth of 30% per year, the E-commerce is very promising. When it comes to both B2C and B2B  platforms such as Alibaba, Made in China,Taobao or Ttmall are leaders. But the trend is the creation of Independent websites.


china ecommerce


To put it in a nutshell

The cost of a digital campaigns  is nothing compared to a traditional media campaign. Low investment, measurable ROI, ability to target customers are the main reasons why if consider that the best way to communicate now in China is to focus on SNS to created clever integrated digital campaigns.



A French Marketer in China

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  1. Hi,

    Great to visit your blog and happy Chinese New Year. I want to know the source of the data, particularly on the number of tablet users. Thanks.

    1. Hi, Man. Thank you for your comment. Most of our data in this post are from DCCI and also some from our french version, you can check the link in the end.

  2. Good post Olivier! Specially the KOL and SNS part of it.

    Wondered on the stat made in the first and third point explaining the number of internet users to be 564 and 999 million in China. Can you please clarify on my confusion.


  3. I would add two things:
    KOLs are virtually all paid for in China, and I’m counting the days until the practice of paying for their services backfires.
    Data tracking is very unreliable in general, there are a lot of malpractices going on to inflate campaign results. Some publishers don’t even allow third party tracking.

    1. Thank you for your reply. In fact, paying KOLs have already been dead. But those real people or celebrities are becoming more and more influential. As to the second problem which happens to be a big question for online marketers everywhere in the world, the situation in China is more complex. But it is also because it’s different from the other countries.

  4. Hi, do you have any salon event that is tailor-made for b2b marketer? If so, I’d like to attend it. If no, could you recommend some related institute? Thanks.

    Catherine GONG

  5. I am curious to know the cost per click for mobile ad campaigns in China. And how are payments made, via the telecom companies or by the ad agency?


    Bob, Seattle

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