Emerging Chinese Digital Marketing Trends For 2021

If you’re selling products and services in China, finding new ways to differentiate yourself and take a unique marketing stance can be tough. After all, China is home to almost one million businesses, serving a growing population of almost 1.4 billion people. However, if you are on the ball and embrace new trends before your competitors, you can outmanoeuvre them and take your business to new heights, whether you’re just starting up or expanding…

Using smart chatbots on WeChat

WeChat Groups aren’t new, but in the business world, they’re a great way to drive private traffic to your company profile and website and indeed win over new customers. Recently, brands have been experimenting with chatbots which, although still aren’t powerful enough to fully mimic a human-to-human conversation, are an effective way to engage with your customers and offer customer service. Whether to respond to sales enquiries, give tracking updates, or even alert new customers to stock refills, they’re good fun and strengthen the relationship between your customers and your brand, all without involvement on your side.

Pulling back from influencer marketing

Although there’ll always be value in working with influencers to promote your products to new customers, brands are increasingly pulling back from traditional influencer relationships and putting their focus instead on micro-influencers. These smaller, more focused players have developed tight-knit communities that are highly concentrated and operate in a niche. If you’re a Scottish whisky brand, for instance, you’d likely have more luck working with a micro-influencer that specialises in whisky tasting that has 5,000 followers, than working with a generic popular influencer with 500,000 followers; it’s less about numbers, more about building relationships with users and influencers who can make a difference to your sales.

A new focus on Low-Tier cities

China’s city-tier classification is popularly used by businesses to guide their market entry strategy; in other words, cities are broken down into tiers based on GDP per capita to help brands decide where to focus their attention. Although the ultimate goal is to reach those middle-class consumer brackets with good levels of disposable income, the rise of platforms like Pinduoduo has proven that lower-tier cities have a growing appetite for quality goods at reasonable prices. eCommerce giants like JD.com are now refocusing their efforts to appeal to this group of consumers; tapping into this market could offer you a new revenue stream.

Changing relationships with KOLs

Just like influencer marketing is changing, working with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) is also shifting focus in 2021. Rather than handing out endless “brand ambassador” deals to KOLs, companies are increasingly asking a select handful of KOLs to become sole partners, which means they can’t work with any other brand when promoting your content. Exclusivity deals aren’t for everyone but they offer you more control when partnering with relevant accounts.

An increase in brands using Douyin

Finally, a growing number of homegrown and international brands are turning to Douyin (TikTok to those in the West) to engage with customers. Though Douyin has traditionally been consumer-focused with companies engaging purely on a brand-building level, the app has now integrated eCommerce functionality to make it easier to sell. On top of this, content trends are changing, with consumers enjoying storytelling content, how-to guides, as well as life hacks - tap into these categories with your products and you could be onto a real winner.

Are you already utilising any of these Chinese digital marketing trends? Join in the conversation on Twitter @ZuduDigital and check back soon for more advice every month.

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