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Chinese market: Establishing Social Media as Main Marketing Channel

W4 | W4 / July 3, 2019

China has established itself at the top of the hot list of worldwide sales markets. As a result, companies invest a lot of money to set up locations in Beijing, Shanghai or Shenzhen, recruit local staff and expect success to be coming quickly. 谈何容易 (tán hé róngy) is the Chinese proverb that we know as "easier said than done". Because the Chinese market plays by ist own rules. And you have to know these rules in order to enter the market with success. The Chinese act according to their own mindset: they communicate, decide and work in their own way and possess patriotism, which is consistently reflected in purchasing decisions and cooperations. Social Media WeChat and Weibo are central platforms for communication, networking, opinion forming and online shopping.

A quarter of global Internet users are Chinese

China's social media landscape, digital economy and mobile ecosystem are unique in the world. There are 618 million Internet users in China, accounting for 45% of the country's total population - plus a quarter of global Internet users. The three locations Beijing (75%), Shanghai (71%) and Hong Kong (66%) have the highest Internet penetration in the country.

Instant messaging is currently the most popular online activity in China. According to the China Internet Information Center, more than 530 million users are active in the network. Tencent announced as the most widely used instant messaging platform in China that it alone has more than 800 million accounts. As a result, many Chinese users of instant messaging services must have created multiple accounts.

Mobile first in China

Chinese communicate mainly mobile. In 2018, according to surveys, the number of mobile users of Internet services exceeded the number of those who went online via PCs. In addition, the proportion of consumers with e-mail addresses is falling steadily and sharply. People are switching to mobile communication platforms such as WeChat.

Together with Weibo, WeChat is the first choice for Chinese netizens' social media with 300 million and 1,000 million active users, respectively. In business communication, too, companies choose Weibo as their main platform for online activities. Weibo is most frequently used during and immediately after meals and during and immediately after work.


Entering the market via social media

WeChat offers various chat functions on the WeChat platform, such as text information, voice information and chat moments. Today, WeChat is the second largest chat application operator in the world and continues to grow rapidly. This is because Chinese Internet users, for example, are highly dependent on social media to research relevant information compared to us Europeans. Take luxury goods, for example: Luxury brands give prospective customers the opportunity in social media to inform themselves directly about offers and product information and to communicate with the brands 1:1. Without social services, there is only one way to communicate information to consumers via large billboard advertisements.  As a result, brands no longer even have to establish themselves in China. Their pure online presence is enough to generate business and purchases. Social media can help to gain a foothold in the Chinese market.

Every company that wants a place in the Chinese market needs to maintain its own social media to effectively build brand awareness among Chinese consumers. Of course, in any country, social media are critical to any brand. However, an active Weibo and WeChat platform on the Chinese mainland lays the foundation for a fast-growing Chinese company.

The structure of special online shop pages is a basic requirement. To publish the right content on Weibo and WeChat is another aspect. Activities such as small games, tests or prizes or coupons bring commitment and sales. With launch campaigns on Weibo and WeChat, companies achieve high attention. Depending on the corporate language of the company, it can be more effective to relax the restrictions and make messages more narrative and emotional (non-commercial), as is already common in influencer marketing.

Download: China Social Media Trends for Marketing

Which social media trends are particularly important in China this year? We have summarized 3 trends for you.


Tags: China Marketing

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Sarah Wilhelm
Sarah Wilhelm
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