Totem Media’s “2019 Social Media Trends – China” report shows that brands are continuing to utilise digital and social media as a key marketing channel in China
In spite of the Chinese government’s continuing close control of online space, the 2019 Social Media Trends – China report from Totem Media highlights how brands are making significant investment in their digital and social marketing strategies, with digital continuing to be seen as one of the most cost-efficient channels for brand promotion.
China and the US
Whilst China’s internet penetration is significantly lower as a percentage than that of the US, 800 million of China’s 1.4 billion citizens are online, as opposed to 292 of 327 million in the US, China is vastly ahead in the use of mobile. In the US 20% of internet users are still desktop-only, whereas in China, there is nearly an overlap between online and mobile access.
Such high levels of mobile penetration has been key in the development of ecommerce in China leaving it in a position of global market leadership.
Five key trends
In light of the significance of digital marketing in China, and the rapidly changing environment in which businesses must operate, the Report highlight five key trends that brands should pay attention to:
1. China marketing should be global
With Chinese tourists overseas being the world’s highest spenders, accounting for one-fifth of tourism spending worldwide, brands need to support their China-specific marketing with strategies that reach out to Chinese consumers around the globe.
2. Measurement of brand/digital performance is critical
When the Chinese market was less developed, it was possible for brands to make relatively easy gains. As markets mature and brands need to be more discerning however, the measurement of audience data will be key to opening up the next rounds of growth.
3. Quality in branding and content matter more
The use of video is being increasingly used in response to demands for livelier content to capture audience attention. Brands are finding that they need to develop marketing strategies which are; creative, unique to their brand, relevant, and repeatable after an initial success.
4. Social selling is a massive, emerging opportunity
“Social commerce” is significantly more developed in China than the West. There are clear opportunities for consumers to buy across every platform; on live-streaming sites, short video apps, community sites and messaging platforms.
5. The rules of retail are being reshaped rapidly
Physical retail spaces are being reimagined as marketing and engagement opportunities that operate in close proximity to online retail. As New Retail develops, technologies such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are likely to play an interesting role in further blurring the boundaries between online and offline space.
Areas of growth
As the Chinese market matures, opportunities for growth remain for businesses of all sizes, although the biggest gains are increasingly going to larger brands. In order to maximise their gains, brands need to focus their attention on a few, high-quality efforts.
One such strategy can be seen in the way that marketers are directing their attention to lower-tier cities to connect with new consumers, in some industries, Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities offer new opportunities.
WeChat is still the most dominant mobile channel in China, though ByteDance is showing significant growth.
Mini-Programs, the simplified apps that operate within the WeChat system are a significant contributor to its continued success. E-commerce platform Pinduoduo, which has significant investment from WeChat developer Tencent, has been able to utilize this to advantage and grow its monthly active users accordingly.
Mini-Programs are a key element in WeChat’s continuing strategy to become the dominant ecosystem for China’s online population – an ecosystem which they hope will eventually supersede the Worldwide Web.