5 Rising Digital Trends in China
As technology and digital revolutions take over the world, commercial superpowers such as China are undergoing a huge paradigm shift. Although the digital economy in China has seen many challenges and hurdles in the past—trade wars, recessive global economy, online frauds, and economic slowdown, the Chinese digital landscape has survived and prospered through it all, showing a rising trajectory.
In fact, the number of Chinese internet users grew to 854 million in the first half of 2019 with a penetration rate of approximately 61%. This rate is likely to rise in the future—thanks to a prospering e-commerce market, video content popularity and increasing internet usage.
To stay on top of the digital race in China, a company needs to have a thorough knowledge of the digital market as well as the support of a reliable Chinese translation services. Here are a few rising trends likely to affect the digital landscape of China.
1. Social Media will Likely Dominate the Digital Landscape
This is an age of social media and a growing dominance of social media applications has been making its presence felt globally. As China embraces 5G internet technology, social media platforms such as WeChat are using this opportunity to spread its wings. The platform offers multiple functionalities such as e-commerce, chats and online shopping stores. According to estimates, the products sold through social commerce channel WeChat accounted for approximately 1 trillion Yuan in 2019, followed by a newcomer in the industry, Pinduoduo, which transacted approximately US$100 billion.
The opportunity that this social commerce presents for marketers worldwide is to take advantage of the internet penetration in China and rise of social media platforms as a means to advertise their brands. As WeChat is already the dominant platform, companies can use two other players which are relatively new in the market—Xiahongshu and Douyin. Xiahongshu, commonly known as Red is a lifestyle sharing platform and a combination of Pinterest and Instagram, used largely as a product search engine.
It boasts of a huge community of 3 million bloggers which companies can take advantage of by integrating with hotels and recreational spots to develop opportunities and generate awareness. Douyin, on the other hand, known as TikTok, is the fastest growing mobile app in China with 200 million daily active users. Marketers can use these platforms to drive brand awareness by collaborating with social influencers and by translating their content in multiple languages by using the services of a professional Chinese translation services.
2. KOLs will be the New Face of Marketing
As the new age of social media reigns the Chinese digital landscape, the importance of KOLs or Key Opinion Leaders cannot be overlooked. In the rest of the world, these social media influencers are limited to creating brand awareness, but in China, these influencers are used to drive brand value through their whole purchasing funnel.
Most luxury brands in China use younger KOLs to market their brands to Chinese consumers, as these consumers are more likely to relate with the former. Additionally, the KOLs market these brands to their followers (which amount to millions), driving product awareness, sales and purchase decisions. They also help with product launches and event promotions, with many of them represented as brand ambassadors. For instance, in 2019, Neutrogena took advantage of Chinese New Year to launch a range of beauty products. Within a span of only 4 hours, 20,000 items were sold through the social media channels, thanks to the endorsements by KOLs.
The power of these KOLs is expected to rise in the coming future, as the social media usage gains momentum and internet penetration increases in China. As more consumers switch to online purchase, these KOLs can be employed further to increase brand awareness and drive their purchase decisions.
However, when using KOLs to market their products, companies need to be careful—product failures and bad word-of-mouth can not only result in low sales for the company, but would also affect the reputation of KOLs associated with the brand. Nevertheless, KOL marketing is the latest face of marketing in China, and brands can use this opportunity to make their products and services known and appreciated.
3. Short-Video Content and Live-Stream Commerce will Increase in Popularity
While video content has always been an all-time favorite of the Chinese people, it gained significant momentum after 2018, when it became evident that the users preferred short video content over every other video content.
Perhaps the biggest proof of the popularity of these short video content can be gauged from the immense fame that Duoyin (TikTok) has gained. The platform boasts of a gigantic user base of over 500 million users, with an average user spending almost 50 minutes on it daily. Short-video content is more accepted and acknowledged in China due to a number of reasons—fragmented lifestyles of consumers, content richness in short time, and a wide variety of genres to choose from.
Live-stream content is also the preferred mode of reaching the audience in the future. Duoyin already uses live-streaming features, while Xiahongshu is seeking to start its live-stream commerce in 2020. Moreover, brands have also been using WeChat Mini programs for live-stream shopping.
So what exactly does this popularity of short video and live-streaming content mean for brands? The brands using these features need to design these content with the audience preferences in mind—they have to squeeze meaningful content in a bite-sized video.
This means that the content needs to be attractive enough to hold the viewers’ attention, while delivering the brand message clearly and as concisely as possible in a short time. Keeping all this in perspective will not only boost brand image for a company, it will also be a highly lucrative opportunity for them to spread awareness about their products on the go.
4. Adoption of Digital Platforms by Aging Population will Multiply
China, the commercial superpower is also home to one of the largest population in the world. According to demographical statistics, China’s elderly population is likely to exceed 255 million by the end of 2020 and efforts are already in place to bring this elderly population into the digital media folds. In 2018, Alibaba’s Taobao launched a new channel on its platform targeting the senior population of China, with easy-to-use features. In addition to giving them the option to make payments with the platform, it also allowed senior population to link their accounts with those of their children and chat in groups.
The amount of elderly users who are using digital and social platforms has also increased over the past years. Where a few decades back, this internet technology was not even thought of, the present times have shifted the perspective of the elderly to such an extent that they are willing to view and share content online, thanks to the introduction of mobile payments and spread of video content. WeChat, the biggest social platform in China reported an increase of these elderly users from around 8 million to over 50 million in 2017 alone.
Brands are using the power of internet to market their products to these elderly population. Many of them place advertisements on social media apps that are most used by the elderly people. This has now become so popular that marketers have started using the term “silver economy” to market their products and campaigns to the elderly population. Tapping into this Chinese “silver economy” is sure to benefit the brands as these people make up a sizeable part of the huge Chinese population. If you own a company outside China, you need to translate your brand content into Chinese by employing a professional Chinese translation services to be able to target this lucrative segment of the market.
5. Economic Growth in Lower-Tier Cities will Grow Exponentially
With the advent of technology and an ever-shifting digital landscape, China has seen a visible shift in the way its cities has embraced new technology. Due to the massive scale of urbanization and demographical changes, the focus of businesses has shifted from huge metropolises to lower-tier cities.
Although these huge metropolises were the primary areas of growth for China in the past decades, experts are of the opinion that lower-tier cities are more likely to be the drivers of growth in the future. The reason for this is simple—the population of some of these cities has multiplied to such an extent that they are rivalling some of the European countries in population. These lower-tier cities contribute about 59% of China’s total GDP and according to statistics, China’s private consumption is estimated to increase to 9.7 trillion by 2030, with growth mainly coming from these lower-tier cities.
The implications that these lower-tier cities present for marketers is two-fold. Marketers can use e-commerce platforms as a means to market their brands to Chinese consumers in these cities, and social media platforms can further be used to advertise their content. By catching on the opportunity to target these cities, businesses stand a better chance of making profits in the lucrative Chinese market.
The Last Word
China’s digital landscape has seen many ups and downs over the past decades, but some of the trends likely to affect the digital market present marketers and businesses across the world with opportunities. Tapping into the Chinese digital market with the help of a professional Chinese translation services and a thorough research can be an ultimate tool to gain revenue and make a reputable brand image in this huge commercial and technological country.