How to market to Chinese online users in the Post Covid-19 world

As the Covid-19 pandemic persists across the globe, most nations are experiencing the restrictions of quarantine. Enforced lockdowns are placing significant restrictions on everyday movements, and forcing people to remain at home wherever possible. But our increasingly online lives mean that it’s possible for people to work, shop, educate, exercise and entertain themselves at home using the latest digital technologies. This offers plenty of opportunities for forward-thinking Western brands to engage with Chinese online users and to build a profitable customer base in China.

Timing-wise, it’s also interesting to note that China is already starting to come out of its quarantine period, and early economic indicators suggest that it is experiencing a rapid market rebound, with pent up demand and supply both being released at speed. Just look at the flagship Hermès boutique in Guangzhou, which raked in a whopping $2.7 billion in one day of re-opening, as VIPs flocked to the designer store for bags, shoes and other high-end fashion items.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at how Western brands can position themselves for success in a world adapting to Covid-19.

Which sectors can benefit?

A sizeable number of sectors can migrate from offline to online delivery. For example:

Retail businesses can grow their e-commerce provision
Education establishments can offer online courses, such as MBAs which are always popular when delivered flexibly online.
– Brands can create profitable new revenue streams by selling digital assets such as images.
Travel brands can encourage Chinese customers to start thinking about their post-lockdown travel and holiday plans.

Case study: JD.Com

Already, around 20 Western luxury brands have taken steps to open e-commerce stores on, the Chinese e-commerce platform, since concerns about Coronavirus began to take hold across the world. For example, by far, the Italian designer fashion brand, sold 65% of its stock in just four days, and around 90% within a month of creating its online store at

Practical steps to take

Do your research

The lucrative Chinese market is growing and changing all of the time, with demographics that evolve as the economy becomes more globalised. The impact of the Coronavirus is likely to change these factors again; particularly when it comes to factors such as disposable buying power and attitudes towards media content. Now is the time to carry out research to better understand the unique needs, wants and desires of your target Chinese customers.

Choose the right platforms for e-commerce

Chinese e-commerce marketplaces such as Tmall,  JD.Com offer various advantages to Western brands wishing to develop their e-commerce capabilities fast, from ready template stores through to flexible fulfilment options and bespoke Covid-19 support programmes for their business customers. Chinese social media platforms also offer ecommerce integration; whether that’s through an in-app prompt within Little Red Book, or linked via advertising on a platform such as WeChat. Assess which platforms are right for your brand and set up your store for a ready route into Chinese e-commerce.

Think social

Every Western brand needs a strong presence on Chinese social media. Chinese customers will spend hours on their favourite platforms, whether that’s to consume, create and share content, network, post reviews, contribute to forums or engage with brands. There are dozens of Chinese social media platforms, from the giants such as WeChat, Weibo and YouKu through to Little Red Book and DouYin (TikTok). It’s important for Western brands to create official accounts on the platforms that their Chinese target audience and to create fresh, relevant and meaningful content. Remember, content is arguably even more important in China than it is in the West, so it’s a time investment well worth making.

Pick your KOLs

Use this time to think ahead and assess whether you are getting the most from Key Opinion Leaders. Whatever your industry and budget, there will be a KOL for you. These powerful online influencers work with brands on a partnership basis to carry out a variety of promotional activities, such as product placement, reviews, recommendations, competition launches and so forth. A Chinese marketing agency can help you to find the right KOL and broker a sponsorship arrangement that will give your brand the right exposure and return.

Get your website in shape

Do you have a Chinese language website that has been built for your Chinese audience? Are you creating bespoke content or translating your Western brand content? Do you have an app for your Chinese audience? Are your landing pages working, and are your user journeys optimised for Chinese user needs and online behaviours? Now is the time to develop your digital assets so that they are primed and ready to go once the Chinese economy is fully open for business again.

Look at Baidu PPC and SEO

Now is also a good time to ramp up your PPC advertising and SEO activities with Baidu. Once your website is optimised, set up targeted online PPC campaigns and begin to invest in long-term white-hat SEO that will build your brand’s rankings against relevant search terms. Again, a Chinese marketing agency can help you to do this in the right way, to set goals and to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns with performance analytics.

Consider your ePR

Chinese customers tend to distrust official media outlets but they are keen to consume quality content that adds value to their lives, and they enjoy excellent branded content that is fun, relevant and meaningful. A good Chinese ePR strategy can place your brand and its messaging in the right print and online media publications and ensure that it is seen by your target audience. This is essential to build your brand sustainably and to gain credibility and a strong reputation.

The Chinese marketing help that you need

Market Me China works with Western brands who are keen to build their presence profitably and successfully in China. Whether you operate in education, travel, retail or another sector, our team of digital experts can help you to craft and deliver a Chinese digital marketing strategy that provides measurable returns. Please contact us to find out more.