How to Enter the Chinese Market though Digital Marketing

How to Enter the Chinese Market though Digital Marketing

With its massive population and exciting business opportunities, China attracts a lot of foreign companies. Those foreign companies want to get in on the digital wonders the Chinese market represents. With more than 800 million Internet users today and a vibrant social media scene, a well-thought digital marketing in China strategy can do miracles.

Brands are being more creative than ever and coming up with interesting and inspiring campaigns. Here are a few tips to follow if you want to succeed in your integration in the Chinese market.

Use Search Engine to get digital marketing in China visibility!

When the Chinese need to search information or check something: they use Baidu.

Google is our first choice when we check something, for Chinese it is the same with Baidu. “Baidu Yixia” means Google it!

Baidu has already become the first Search Engine with a 65% market share.

Understanding that Baidu is the equivalent of Google in China will be critical for your digital marketing success in China.

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Use cultural icons to create a buzz and get the trust of Chinese consumers by using digital marketing in China!

To connect with Internet users, the strategy of Givenchy in China is to use a new and nonconformist celebrity. The brand chose Li Yuchun, who became famous when she won “Supergirls”, a singing competition. The singer stood out as she did not conform to the usual standards of beauty. She dressed very simply and had an aggressive voice. She quickly became a new symbol for Chinese netizens and has reached 3.6 million followers. With an engagement of more than 20,000 with each of her social media posts, she was bound to get noticed by a brand.

Collaborating with icons like Li Yuchun provides a lot of visibility in China.

Influencers are the way to go for digital marketing in China! 

With Chinese netizens’ tendency to comment on and share everything they see online, content can quickly go viral. They trust and seek the judgements of experts, so, Key Opinion Leaders are the way to go if you want your content to be seen by many.

If we go back to Givenchy’s example, the brand works with icons and a few KOL’s to strengthen visibility. These experts communicate a brand’s activity and assets – here, on the collaboration between Li Yuchun and Givenchy – and relays information to a larger audience. In the Fashion industry, it’s important to work on your word of mouth marketing, this should be the center of your Digital Strategy.

HanHan has been used in many advertisements. He is the KOL for the after the 80’s generation. The rebel blogger is a Chinese professional rally driver, best-selling author, creator of Party, and China’s most popular blogger. He is the unofficial voice of his generation.

Here Hublot uses him as a brand ambassador!

han han marketing China

Do not force your culture on Chinese customers through digital marketing in China

This cannot be stressed enough: copying a strategy that works in your country might be risky. Chinese consumers are sensitive to signs of adaptation from brands. Tradition and culture are paramount to the Chinese and it’s a good move for brands to refer to China’s customs. Localizing your content is essential, and your marketing strategy could, for example, include wordplay. Since Chinese is a tonal language, you could easily turn your campaign into something humorous.

Check this video of thoughtful China to get a better understanding of Cultural communication in Chinese Social Media.

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Bet on Western clichés

Even though tradition plays a really important role, Chinese consumers are more and more interested in Western culture, and this shows in their consumption habits. Foreign brands understand this and are integrating it into their marketing strategy. However, Chinese consumers’ image of your country isn’t always accurate and there can be huge disparities between what they think and how things truly are back home. Consequently, when global brands capitalize on the country they come from, communication strategies in the home country will be different than in China.

Starbucks doesn’t communicate much about Christmas on its English website; it’s different in China, where they use many Christmas-centered slogans. China isn’t known for celebrating Christmas but Starbucks made the marketing move to associate this festivity with American culture, and it seems to work well so far.

Use online-to-offline opportunities in digital marketing in China

E-commerce is a huge market in China, and brands want to capitalize on the potential of the Internet to help consumers with real-life purchases. Not only does online-to-offline (O2O) make customers’ life easier – these are usually delivery services – it also helps the brand to keep in touch with its clients.

However the development of O2O services may lead to a price war: as consumers will compare all offers and the cheapest one will win.

Read: Fear and greed drive China’s online to offline commerce craze

The French Cellar, a top startup in Asia, bet on O2O strategy to connect Chinese consumers with their wine subscription and organized events in the main cities in China to let people try their wines and connected their potential consumers with existing customers.

With WeChat, The French Celler engaged the people that showed up for the events on their WeChat account. The attendees were able to discover, step by step, their own wine selection, and The French Celler incentivised the attendees to drink good wine. “The Chinese people want to learn about wine and appreciate having a speaker teach them what a good wine is. Wine is not part of the Chinese culture, but many consumers are open-minded and want to learn, and appreciate good wine.” explained Jin Wang Managing Director of the French Cellar in China.

French Cellar China

Photo of Event of The French Cellar

Become an inspirational brand

Focusing on people’s aspirations has always been an effective marketing move, if not by the product or service you offer then by your communication. Since digital campaigns can be very creative with different formats, it’s easy to create a whole ecosystem around 1 idea.

That’s what Airbnb set out to do in China with a campaign focused on wanderlust. The company highlights its brand with signature visual content, which is then shared across many social media platforms, including some platforms dedicated to travellers such as Qyer or Douban.

Also: Airbnb – Will its China wanderlust pay off?

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Conclusion for Digital Marketing in China: 

Digital marketing in China is important, and if you want to enter to the Chinese market, your team needs to have experience in this market, and good knowledge about social media.

Hero photo by Nate Landy on Unsplash

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Olivier Verot
Olivier Verot
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  1. Hello,
    It is true, enter via Digital allow brand to go faster , test the water, and after understand the market to move to physical presence.
    Going first via crossborder is better to test your products on the market.
    And build a Brand online is really cost efficient in China compare to TV, Metro Ads etc…

  2. It is really a great article. Clear and so True. it is hard to enter the Chinese market, long and cost money.
    You make a great sum up by where Brands should start.

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