In a recent article, we talked about KOLs and KOCs, Chinese internet influencers, which are important as they help international brands to promote products to Chinese consumers. This time we will look into the most popular social media platforms and sites of China to understand how to better approach the market.
Currently, China is the second biggest retail market after the US and its growing middle class offers significant potential for foreign companies. However, culture and market practices can represent unique challenges. Understanding local tools and practices are crucial to building relationships within the Chinese consumers.
BAIDU AND BAIKE, THE CHINESE GOOGLE AND WIKIPEDIA
First in line is Baidu, the Chinese version of Google. Within Baidu, there is Baike, the Chinese version of Wikipedia, in which one can find pages about Chinese and foreign brands. Therefore an important step, when launching a brand in China, is to create a Baidu and Baike account. On Bike brands can include information about the history, its philosophy, as well as products and services.
WECHAT, THE CHINESE SUPER-APP FULL OF NEWS AND ADS
WeChat is an instant messaging app and can be considered as a mix of Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp. In fact, this app is not only used for sending messages and video calls, but it also offers a series of functions such as “Moments”, in which users can publish pictures and short videos of their daily life, write posts, or use “WeChat Pay”, a QR-based mobile payment service.
Brands have their accounts too, and usually share long articles with videos, photos, and stories about their products, collections, brand heritage, or promotions.
Having an official brand account on Wechat is certainly an important step in growing presence in China and build your audience.
WEIBO, THE CHINESE FACEBOOK
Next in line is Weibo, the Chinese version of Facebook and Twitter, which counted about 550 million users in 2019 (an increase of more than 100 million new users compared to the previous year). On Weibo is possible to have a personal or official account and write or share posts and pictures. Companies can have their official account, make posts about their latest products, and offer discounts and promotions to their customers and followers.
TENCENT VIDEO, THE CHINESE YOUTUBE
Besides Weibo, another useful social media is Tencent Video, the Chinese version of Youtube which increased its popularity in the last years. Tencent Video can be a great tool to increase a company’s popularity, by posting videos about the brand’s history, product making, and build a community.
LITTLE RED BOOK, THE CHINESE PINTEREST
Little Red Book, in Chinese Xiaohongshu, is considered the Chinese version of Pinterest. It is a cross-border e-commerce website where users can post reviews, participate in discussions, and post their own content. The platform became particularly popular among young women since many products belong to fashion, beauty, and cosmetics categories.
In the last years, Chinese women have gained more and more economic independence, they decide how to spend their own money and often use the workplace as a stage to show their new fashionable clothes and accessories. Therefore, this platform is ideal to cater to the attention of the female crowd.
PINDUODUO, THE MOST POPULAR APP IN LOWER TIER CITIES
Chinese cities are divided into different tiers, with the most developed cities like Beijing and Shanghai who belong to the first tier and cities such as Suzhou or Guangzhou which belong to the second tier.
The less developed cities belong to the third, fourth, and lower tiers, local people’s buying power is lower and a new revolutionary e-commerce app like Pinduoduo is gaining popularity.
While first and second-tier cities e-commerce is monopolized by the Alibaba and JD groups, Pinduoduo is the most used app in lower-tier cities and it has become particularly popular among family mothers, who buy items for all the family members.
The strong point of Pinduoduo is that it can be considered a “social e-commerce app”: there are two prices for each product, one is the full price, the other one is a discount for “team purchase”.
If the buyer sends the product link on social media like WeChat to his contacts and he or she manages to find some friends who participate in the purchasing, they will all get a discount on the same product.
Other functions of the app include free products and red packets (hongbao) for who convinces his friends to download the app and very short term promotions (usually last for 2 hours) in order to make the customer buy the product instinctively and without hesitation.
The last app, but not less important, is the famous Tiktok. The app was developed in China, and here known as Douyin, where people can post short videos of 15 seconds on any topic, and today it counts more than 400 million active users. The app is particularly effective for FMCG and brands wanting to advertise on this platform should be very creative and create high-quality video content and engage local influencers.
In conclusion, China is surely a very huge market to type into and digital marketing can be a powerful tool to help to establish a new brand in an efficient way.
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