This blog post was updated on 5 September 2023.
China has the largest internet population in the world, with a staggering 1 billion citizens being online.
However, the Chinese digital landscape is vastly different from anywhere else in the world, as the country has its own set of search engines, social networks and e-commerce websites.
This can make it a challenging country to enter for foreign businesses who are unfamiliar with the market.
Here are three things you need to be aware of if you want to succeed at digital marketing in China.
1. Social media
Many of the top social networks in the West are banned in China, including Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), Instagram, Pinterest and more. In their place, local alternatives have flourished. The top social networks in China is WeChat. WeChat is a hugely popular all-in-one lifestyle app that offers a wide range of services such as social networking, shopping, taxi hailing, ticket booking, and that barely scratches the surface. With WeChat being so ingrained into Chinese people’s daily lives, it is only natural that it has become a tool that marketers rightly focus their attention on when marketing in China. If you are targeting China, it is recommended that you set up a WeChat official account for your brand.
China is the world’s biggest e-commerce market. However, Western giants such as Amazon have very little presence there. Instead, the Chinese e-commerce landscape is dominated by local websites such as Taobao, JD.com, Douyin, Pinduoduo and Tmall. If you want to sell your products in China, you need to be on these websites. It is also advisable to implement a real-time online chatting tool and include multiple photos of your product on the product page.
3. Online payment methods
In the West, most online shoppers like to buy using PayPal or a debit or credit card. This is not the case in China. The most popular online payment method in China is digital wallets, with the most popular being Alipay and WeChat Pay.
Want to learn more?
I hope this has given you a useful introduction to digital marketing in China. For more in-depth information and advice, read the full-length guide here. The guide covers:
- the current digital landscape in the country, including internet penetration rates
- the typical Chinese internet user, including their gender, age, location and online activities
- device usage breakdowns and internet speeds in China
- search engine marketing in China
- how to localise your website for China
- social media marketing in China
- the local culture and language in China
- e-commerce in China
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