China has a unique digital landscape, consumers have distinctive purchasing behaviours and there’s intense competition between homegrown and foreign brands. In this piece, I will talk about emerging trends and share tips for all Western brands and publishers who want to enter China in 2018.
1. Mobile is the channel you can’t do without
According to the China Statistical Report on Internet Development published in August 2017, China has an online population of 751 million and over 95% are using mobile devices to access the internet.
Meanwhile, Chinese people spend an average of three hours a day on their smartphones, mainly for social media and ecommerce. For companies publishing and marketing to Chinese consumers, a strong mobile presence is crucial.
2. Get good at short videos, you’ll need them
Videos, in particular short videos of six to 15 seconds, are rising quickly and will be more widely used on social media and ecommerce sites. With short videos, brands and publishers can engage with a Chinese audience far more easily.
In the past two years, Tencent, Alibaba and Toutiao have made a huge investment to support short video production. For example, Tencent invested in Kuaishou, while Alibaba has put billions into transforming Tudou into a short video community.
3. The twin pillars of China’s social media
Social commerce is one of the major driving forces of consumption in China. However, its social media landscape is complex and highly segmented. As a foreign brand, establishing a presence on the two major social media platforms – WeChat and Weibo – is a key step.
WeChat is a multi-purpose message platform developed by Tencent with 980 million monthly active users by Q3 2017. Weibo is a microblogging site (Alibaba is a major shareholder) with 376 million monthly active users as of Q3 2017.