Marketing in China? The advantages of finding a Chinese marketing partner

There is no doubt that marketing in China offers a hugely attractive proposition for Western brands. But whether you operate in e-commerce, education, tourism, retail, healthcare or another industry, there are significant challenges to overcome first if you want to enjoy success and see a measurable ROI.

Let’s look at some of the key benefits of finding a Chinese marketing partner to help.

1. Chinese digital marketing expertise

For Western brands, most marketing in China will be delivered online. This vast audience of savvy and sophisticated netizens loves to socialise, learn, network and buy online – and these figures keep growing, especially as smartphone adoption extends to low-tier cities. Did you know, as of June this year, there were 997 million active mobile shopping users in China – an increase of 15% year on year. In fact, mobile shopping penetration in China hit nearly 90% in the same month. [1]

The audience may be huge, but so is the competition – especially with large numbers of Western brands moving into this market. Additionally, the Great Firewall of China means that many Western websites and social media platforms simply aren’t available. Instead of Google, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Western campaigns must be delivered on WeChat, Sina Weibo, Baidu, Douyin (Tik Tok), Little Red Book or one of the other emerging and more niche platforms upon which your target Chinese audience might be active.

2. Cultural knowledge

There is so much to learn about this huge, segmented and lucrative market, and the Chinese market evolves just as Western markets do. Today’s young buyers, in particular, want to express themselves and to find personal self-fulfilment. As discerning and confident consumers, they love high-quality Western brands and luxury goods and aspire to travel – or to study abroad. There are plenty of other insights that are essential for successful marketing in China too. For example:

– Chinese consumers value the recommendations and reviews of their peer groups and often use these to guide their purchase decisions, more so than in the West.
– Clothes, electronics, beauty, household and leisure items are all top-selling categories for online sales.
– Chinese consumers are addicted to their smartphones and comfortable buying online; so Western websites must be optimised for mobile and an app is usually a smart move.
– Brand heritage and a powerful brand story connects and engages Chinese customers more than a simple logo.
– Chinese main purchasing periods vary from the West and peak around key cultural events and holiday periods such as Singles Day, Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), Women’s Day, Golden Week, Children’s Day and Double 12… and yes, they love to buy in the run-up to Christmas as well!
– Cultural factors such as colour and numbers carry far more significance in China than they do in the West. For example, number 8 can help to make a deal, but number 4 could break it. Red is a celebratory colour, but white is associated with mourning.

3. Native Chinese language skills

It goes without saying that a marketing agency with native Chinese language skills can make the entire process of marketing in China far easier and more successful. Not only can native Chinese speakers overcome administrative hurdles, speed up supplier communications and reduce the risk of translation errors, but they can also greatly assist with targeted content creation that meets the specific, varied and nuanced needs of Chinese audiences.

4. Networks and contacts

Whether you need to engage a Key Opinion Leader, liaise with the accounts department for your Baidu account set-up or find a Chinese videographer on the ground to stream a live event, the right agency will naturally have the contacts that you need for a fast and quality resolution – without being charged over the odds!

5. Administration experience

It can be a longer and more challenging process for Western brands to set up Chinese digital marketing accounts, than they may be used to at home. For example, it can take several weeks to open up a Baidu online advertising account and WeChat advertising account. A Chinese marketing agency can facilitate the process and help it to run as quickly and smoothly as possible.

6. Relevant campaign experience

Chinese digital media doesn’t only exist on different platforms, but it is extremely complex and highly segmented. For example, tier-3 cities in China are seeing the highest level of e-commerce growth – growing by 16% year on year, as of June this year. This means that there are over 32 million online buyers in these tier-3 cities alone – a crucial fact to know when targeting a campaign and considering tightly defined demographics for the best results.

7. Specialist expertise

Whether you need Chinese blogs, Chinese targeted campaigns, WeChat or Weibo account management and customer engagement, Chinese online marketing campaign analytics, website localisation and development, Baidu online advertising campaign set-up and administration, online PR, Baidu SEO, Chinese translation or market research, the right agency partner can give you ready access to the skills that you need. What’s more, they can do so on a flexible basis; matching your exact needs to a focused programme of activity within your timeframe and to evidenced quality measures.

8. Economies of scale

A successful Chinese marketing agency will have a number of clients, and the ability to negotiate special rates for Chinese marketing services. This offers Western brands economies of scale; both in the services that they buy and in terms of the flexible access that they can enjoy to Chinese marketing experts. This is typically far less onerous than maintaining an in-house team of permanent Chinese marketers and far less expensive too!

Find out more

Market Me China is a specialist online marketing agency, blending Western and Chinese native online marketers. With a team on the ground in the UK and in China, we leverage our knowledge, expertise and cutting-edge digital marketing techniques to offer the results that our clients need – visibility, conversions and a proven ROI. We work on a partnership basis to offer the flexible service that our clients need – from setting up Chinese social media accounts for new e-commerce brands, through to conceptualising, delivering and analysing entire Chinese online marketing campaigns for large and established Western companies. Please contact us for a no-obligation chat about your needs, and to find out more.

[1] Source: QuestMobile –