5 top Chinese digital marketing trends Western brands should know

If you’re serious about building your Western brand in China, it’s important to be ahead of the curve regarding trends in this sophisticated, increasingly affluent country. Chinese consumers actively seek out quality Western brands and are highly discerning about how they spend their disposable income – so the right marketing strategies can be extremely lucrative if you get them right.

Here are five main Chinese digital marketing trends that Western brands should know.

1. Localisation matters

The Chinese market is vast and highly fragmented, and successful Western brands must go beyond basic measures to translate their messages into Chinese. Today, it’s vital to deeply understand your target Chinese customer’s preferences, behaviours and cultural nuances, considering key factors such as demographic data; especially city tiers.

The key to success lies in using digital marketers with native language skills, devising highly targeted, segmented Chinese marketing campaigns, and building profitable relationships with Chinese KOLs as part of an integrated Chinese digital marketing strategy.

Takeaway: Invest in primary, targeted research delivered by a Chinese digital marketing agency that can tailor your research to your specific brand and objectives. Use the outcomes to create customer personas that you can really seek to understand before creating targeted and segmented marketing campaigns.

2. Conversational marketing is surging

Businesses still engage with Chinese customers via traditional means, but the growth of chatbots and virtual customer service assistants is accelerating. In China, this trend is particularly noticeable, as digital platforms are a key part of everyday life. Expect to see growing use of individualised, real-time customer service interactions driven by AI. If conversational marketing isn’t yet on your radar, 2024 is the year to consider it!

Takeaway: Upskill now in the areas of conversational marketing and see where there are possibilities for adding AI chatbots to your website and apps. These can support your customers 24/7 with the common questions they may have that otherwise prevent a sale, and as AI chatbots are powered by machine learning, they grow their capabilities to answer questions accurately over time.

3. Ethical and sustainable marketing

Chinese customers are increasingly concerned about sustainability and environmentalism, and they want to shop with brands that share their values and demonstrate commitment to ethical business through their actions. It’s vital to have transparent business practices, a strong stance on climate change and responsible business, ethical practices and a commitment to sustainable operations. This trend is expected to grow quickly in 2024 as the power of ‘green marketing’ in China continues to gain prominence.

Takeaway: Understand how your business can operate in the ‘greenest’ and most sustainable way. Seek to continue to improve in these areas, have strong ethical values and communicate regularly to your Chinese customers on these topics. For example, you might focus on wrapping products in recyclable paper, power your business with renewable energy or grow your raw materials in a way that supports the environment.

4. The rise of micro-influencers – and Douyin

Influencers have long been a powerful route to market for brands in China, but there is a noticeable growth in the micro-influencer realm, where individuals have targeted, smaller followings who are heavily engaged. Micro-influencers can attract heavily niche audiences and then engage with them personally during the key purchase stages.

Many brands are now working with micro-influencers are part of localised marketing strategies to target niche groups with great success. The micro-influencer trend also ties in with the ongoing growth of Douyin (TikTok in the West), which is already hugely powerful for businesses and brands and one of the world’s largest advertising platforms. Other platforms are also growing in importance and it’s clear that short-form video content is here to stay, and likely to be a key digital marketing trend in China for 2024.

Takeaway: Identify the right influencers for your brand and invest in short-form video content on the right platforms. Expert advice can help you to pick the right ones!

5. Personalisation and individual marketing

Another key trend for Chinese marketing in 2024 is the growth of one-to-one, individual or personalised marketing. Brands can no longer expect to push out spammy content and expect it to resonate with customers, let alone convert them. Sophisticated Chinese customers expect their experiences to be customised and tailored, whether those experiences are delivered via social media, online advertising,

Takeaway: Invest in high-quality, nuanced and carefully localised content, tailored and segmented to your target audience/s.

Key things to remember

Marketing trends are important for brands to be aware of, but it’s still important to stick to a clear marketing strategy when building your brand in China. Here are some tips for success:

  • Consider Chinese digital marketing trends and decide which you will incorporate into your marketing strategy. Begin with a strategy and then choose your channels and tactics so that you focus on some key areas. Don’t try to do everything all at once!
  • Start small if you’re new to a certain area of digital marketing and seek to build your experience and expertise as you get a handle on what the channel or tactic involves. This is particularly important in China where the market is so vast and fragmented and the available technologies are highly sophisticated and varied.
  • Get the help that you need to build your Chinese digital marketing capabilities, bearing in mind that Chinese digital channels are all hosted and managed in Chinese and require native language skills as well as in-depth marketing knowledge.
  • Carefully manage the results of what you do, to see what’s working and where you can adjust your efforts.

Find out more

Market Me China is here to help your Western brand to succeed in the exciting, fast-growing and lucrative China market. Our digital marketing professionals all have native language skills and the experience needed to deliver highly impactful marketing campaigns that deliver measurable results.

We work on a flexible basis to deliver strategic marketing campaigns of all kinds for our clients, helping Western brands build their presence in target Chinese markets. If you’re keen to find out more and to learn how we can help your brand experience success, please contact our friendly and helpful team for a no-obligation chat about your needs.