China Digital Marketing 2020
18 Jun , 2020

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With the massive population, China is undoubtedly leading the current digital trend, no matter in Asia or worldwide. The rapid development of its competitive digital ecosystem leads to a booming economy. However, in such a fast-paced country, it is complicated to implant digital marketing strategies due to the diverse market and sheer speed of market changes.

Let’s explore China’s digital marketing environment, trends and opportunities that help you fit in the China market and reach the Chinese audience.

Digital landscape and trends of China

As one of the largest markets in the world, 854 million Chinese are internet users. Meanwhile, 1.04 billion users are active in social media indicated that social media is a big part of the Chinese online landscape, holding a 72% penetration rate.

Digital Landscape of China.jpgDigital Landscape of China

The average daily time spent on the internet for Chinese users is 5 hours 50 minutes. Besides, we can tell that social media and video content are popular with the daily spending time 2 hours 12 minutes and 3 hours 17 minutes respectively.

China’s daily time spent with media.jpgChina’s daily time spent with media

Apart from the high spending time on videos, watching videos is the most popular online content activity in which 85% of users watch online videos each month.

Insight: Video content could be an effective trend used in digital marketing strategies for China.

China’s online content activities.jpgChina’s online content activities

Comparing the usage of devices, Mobile (62.4%) is more favored than Desktop (36.5%). Meanwhile, there is a possible shift from Desktop (-17%) to Mobile (+15%).

Insight: Mobile marketing might become the mainstream of digital marketing in China.

China’s share of web traffic by device.jpgChina’s share of web traffic by device

Positive results are shown for E-commerce activities. Chinese netizens purchase online keenly, with 73% of the internet users searching online to buy goods or services, while those that visited an online retail store and purchased a product online are at 93% and 78% respectively.

Insight: Chinese netizens are engaged with online sales activities which provided a great development space for E-commerce.

China’s ecommerce activities.jpgChina’s ecommerce activities

Dipping into social media behaviors, 98% of Chinese users visited a social network or messaging service while 89% actively engaged with or contributed to social media in 2019 Dec.

China’s social media behaviors.jpgChina’s social media behaviors

Most Popular Digital Marketing Channels in China

Top 5 Most-Used Social Media Platforms

The top 5 most-used social media platforms are WeChat (微信), Sina Weibo (新浪微博), Baidu Tieba (百度貼吧), XiaoHongShu (小紅書) and Tencent Weibo (騰訊微博).

Insight: Xiaohongshu has become the focus of attention as the raising crowdsourcing app that engages brands with young, affluent urbanites and lets viral marketing go far. It is a platform that combines social media and e-commerce with over 300 million registered users.

China’s most-used social media platforms.jpgChina’s most-used social media platforms

Top 5 Mobile Apps

Top 5 mobile apps are WeChat (微信), Alipay (支付宝), QQ, Taobao (淘寶) and Baidu (百度), which have strong impacts on the Chinese mobile market.

Insight: As the top of both social platforms and mobile apps, WeChat is one of the must-have Apps for China's digital marketing campaign. It is a Chinese multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app developed by Tencent (騰訊).

China’s mobile app rankings.jpgChina’s mobile app rankings

Digital Marketing Opportunities in China

1. Mobile Marketing in China

There is no doubt that Mobile Marketing is the upcoming trend in China. 95% of residents own a mobile phone with the same percentage of users accessing the internet through their mobile phones. Meanwhile, there is a shift from desktop computers to mobile phones. It is necessary to plan specific campaign strategies for the mobile market with the growing mobile online landscape of China.

Owing to new technological advances, many Chinese netizens used messaging apps to manage their money, order taxis or purchase products. Thus, social commerce holds extensive potential in China. Taking WeChat as an example, it is expanding features like taxi-calling as well as micro-stores apps that offer discount coupons, taxi rides...etc. Another raising platform Xiaohongshu is also serving the content sharing and e-commerce platform in one app. Mobile purchases are becoming the norm.

Altogether, the smartphone ecosystem is expected to drive a speedy rise in innovation that intertwined e-commerce, instant messaging and social media platforms.

2. Video Marketing in China

Video content plays a key role in the Chinese market with its high consumption rate. There is a format on the rise that all marketers need to be alert - short videos. Chinese users have shown their preferences for short video content with the appearances of multiple apps serving this particular form of content including Douyin (抖音/Tik Tok), Meipai (美拍), Kuaishou (快手)...etc.

Short video content fits particular needs of urbanites with their fragmented lifestyles and decreasing attention span - suitable to kill time and easy to digest. Short videos also go with high flexibility and quick production time. Meanwhile, brands can amplify the effectiveness of short videos easily by collaborating with celebrities or influencers.

Short video content is expected to change the content consumption habits of the Chinese market. Its dominance might decline the influence of text and picture-based content. Keeping messages in bite-size is the new content direction.

3. Influencer Marketing in China

The popularity of celebrities is declining in China's digital market. Instead, more and more micro-influencers and Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) are taking the lead. Chinese netizens don’t trust brands easily, they tend to seek judgment from experts. Therefore, influencers are becoming a new choice. They trust influencers’ reviews and opinions more than the corporate brands themselves.

Influencers present an authentic and reliable image, which helps them to build relationships and bonding with their followers. They are able to communicate and engage with fans closely, creating stronger connections and a shared sense of community and belonging. They usually expertise in one main aspect and hold the power of affecting consumers’ purchasing decisions and behaviors.

It’s hard to use one strategy to reach all consumers under the large market size. Local influencers are good fits for China’s complex market. They can fit in the ongoing trends for particular regions. With Chinese netizen’s enthusiasm for commenting and sharing, influencers' content goes viral easily.

4. Live Commerce in China

‘Live commerce’ is the fusion of ‘E-commerce’ and ‘Live-Streaming’, which combines the elements of mobile apps, broadcasting videos and influencers. It is a growing trend taken off in China’s digital market.

Through the live-streaming platforms, influencers promote products from retailers and interact with consumers in real-time. Audiences can purchase featured products while watching the videos. Live-streaming has brought a huge impact on consumer shopping behavior last year. According to the South China Morning Post, Taobao lives raked in US$2.85 billion worth of transactions within 24 hours on Singles’ Day festival 2019.

Live commerce is expected to be a mainstay of China’s e-commerce in 2020. Apart from Taobao, many popular Chinese apps such as Douyin (Tik tok) and Xiaohongshu are joining the live-streaming market. It has also spread to the overseas market like Southeast Asia. Their e-commerce platforms like Shopee and Lazada also introduced the live-streaming feature.

Summary of Digital Marketing in China

Flexible and innovative strategies are compatible with China’s complex and diversified market structure. If you want to penetrate the market in China, seize the opportunities of mobile marketing, video marketing, influencer marketing and live commerce.

You also need to be experienced in this market with good knowledge of different digital marketing solutions. Check with our experts to learn more about our customized strategies for China’s digital marketing.

About AsiaPac Net Media

With an extensive digital marketing experience of serving more than 2,500 clients across Asia in sectors such as education, travel and hospitality, finance, Government and others, AsiaPac’s expert team is highly recognized for the excellence in providing performance-driven services to businesses across Asia, and global corporates targeting Asia markets. If you’d like to learn more about AsiaPac and the work we’ve done, visit our Work page. For more information on AsiaPac/ AdTech and our services, please contact us at