Chinese is getting the grip of the Social Media in record pace

Do the Stats Work for Chinese Social Media?

Marketing executives in the West are busy checking the stats for Chinese social media to better inform how they promote their brands on social media.

Chinese is getting the grip of the Social Media in record pace

Chinese is getting the grip of the Social Media in record pace – (Photo via http://www.agenciagancho.com.br)

Getting to grips with the country’s wide and complex social media community and developing a strategy for reaching consumers lies at the heart of many brands hoping to succeed in China.

For many marketers, the stats help to tell a story and define social media usage. According to Marketing to China: “Platforms like WeChat and Sina Weibo have more than 300 million users, while Meilishuo, a popular social shopping website grabs about 30 million users per month. Experts say that within next 5 years, China is expected to reach $271 billion from online shopping.”

But do the stats tell marketing executives anything really useful?

  • 47% of Chinese consumers watch videos and television on tablets.
  • Much is made of the affluent rich who live in the big cities but marketers who concentrate only on Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities are bypassing the vast majority of China’s citizens. While there are just 4 Tier 1 cities with over 16 million inhabitants, Tier 3 and 4 cities and towns boast over 161 million people.
  • 82% of Chinese netizens are buying online more than any other country including Germany and the USA.
  • 22% of China’s internet users believe that sharing on social media is an expression of their own personality and 30% believe it is driven by creativity.
  • China’s mobile shopping increased by 168% in 2013 and is estimated to almost double that in 2014. If the trend increases, by 2017 it will have increased by over 1,000%.
  • The preferred format for advertising in China is the use of coupons (33%) and video (36%), with the best time to reach out to netizens on their mobiles being when they are on the way to work or at weekends.
  • While it might not occur to consumers in the West, 61% of china’s netizens would consider actually buying a car online.
  • WeChat is the fastest growing app internationally, outstripping everyone else. Its success has made Tencent the first Chinese internet brand to succeed out of the mainland and is set to make big inroads throughout 2014 and beyond. For many industry experts, WeChat is still the one to watch.
  • 74% of netizens shop online to get a lower price while 78% also worry about the authenticity of the product they are buying.
Chinese Social Media in Stats

Chinese Social Media in Stats – (Photo via http://www.china-brain.com)

Perhaps one of the more influential trends is that China’s ecommerce growth is back on the rise again, estimated to be worth $540 billion by the end of 2014. Industry experts believe that this is in part being driven by the lower Tier cities which lack the stores of their more affluent neighbours. According to China Briefing: “While there are plenty of physical shopping options in China’s larger cities, lower-tier cities cater less to international luxury brands. In light of this demand, the internet has allowed many retailers to offer goods to consumers in lower-tier cities and further afield without the need and cost of setting up a physical outlet.”

It’s a stat that suggest Western brands should be moving out from the Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities to the places where most of the Chinese population are living.

Elderly Chinese Mobile User

Top 5 trends International brand should be aware of upon Chinese Social Media in 2014

Western brands that are trying to get to grips with social media in China know that it is a fast paced and often complex arena and, with nearly 600 million users and a year on year growth of over 165% for mobile shopping, it’s something they have to work hard to keep up with.

1. China gets the exercise bug

GarminForERun

Advert for the Garmin Forerunner 220, a wearable smart device. (File photo courtesy of Garmin)

Well into 2014, microblogging platform WeChat are forging into new territory by teaming up with third party vendors to promote smart hardware like fitness bracelets. As with Western users, Chinese netizens are getting the exercise bug, particularly in the more affluent Tier 1 and 2 cities.

According to Want China Times, this month saw “iHealth, Huawei Honor, Lifesense and Codoon put their respective WeChat version of smart bracelets for sale on platforms such as Jingdong Mall (JD.com) after the WeChat team closely worked with these vendors for nearly half a year.”

It may be a sign that WeChat is beginning to collaborate more with third party providers, though they are keeping their cards close to their chest. The integration allows WeChat users to put on their smart bracelets, measure their sporting or exercise performance and then share it with friends on the popularmicroblogging platform.

2 . Search targets “big data” in China

Internet search giant Baidu is thinking about big data as they move into the later parts of 2014. With trillions of web pages in storage and billions of searches conducted every day, Baidu is China’s major search engine, modelled on Google, but perhaps slightly behind in developmental terms. According to Wang Jing, vice president of Engineering: “Baidu hopes to build a big data engine on the massive data the company collected over the years and offer it to traditional businesses.”  

3. Online to offline is getting bigger

Elderly Chinese Mobile User

Elderly Chinese Mobile User (photo from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn)

Online to offline, whereby a mobile or pc is used to order something like a taxi is set to become more popular as offline businesses start to get a slice of the ecommerce pie. Tencent has been leading the way mainly because of its 355 million monthly active users and others may well jump on the band wagon in the future.

4. Chinese companies are becoming more competitive

China’s own companies are beginning to realise the power that can be had from harnessing social media and are starting to become more visible, competing with Western brands who have long been working hard to make China’s various platforms work for them.

According to Econsultancy.com: “The trend in China is towards using social media as a bridge between consumer and company. And as 500m of China’s 618m internet users use a mobile device to access the internet, m-commerce has become even more important.” 

ChinaWorldCupFever

(photo from ChinaDaily.cn)

5. China gets World Cup fever

And finally, although they didn’t have a team in the tournament, China’s netizens have been keeping a close eye on the World Cup this year with interest peaking with around 11 million users including a hashtag in their posts throughout the group stages.

Online Shopping in China

How Social Media is Changing Online Shopping in China

It used to be that your average netizen in China would hook onto one brand and stay with it… not any more

Lately, though, with the rise of social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo and online shopping through internet giants like Alibaba, greater choice has meant that China’s ever growing online army are more likely to follow several brands.

ChineseOnlineShoppingThe younger generation coming through are also more likely to go for quality products and spend more than older netizens who have grown up through a range of social changes and some difficult economic times. There is more disposable income and greater social freedom now than ever before and it is driving the changing landscape of social media and online shopping.

Social Media is Spreading but the Market is Shrinking for Western Brands

With changing infrastructure and increasing popularity, social media is moving out of the Tier 1 and 2 cities into the rest of this large and complicated country. In 2014, rural areas made up nearly half of netizens and instant messaging is the most popular online pursuit with 530 million active users across all platforms. http://socialmediatoday.com/we-are-social-singapore/2350106/understanding-social-media-china-2014

Online Shopping in ChinaIt’s not all good news for social media marketers working to promote Western brands. According to China Daily: “Amid a sluggish consumer goods market in China, foreign brands are facing pressure, with six out of 10 losing market share to their domestic rivals last year.”

It seems that the domestic market is forging ahead and capturing the attention of netizens. For instance, western soft drinks brands lost a 6.3% share of the market while domestic carbonated brands such as Wahaha “increased market share by 3.8 percent through product innovation and large scale marketing,” according to China Daily. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2014-07/02/content_17635342.htm

Lower Tier Cities Spend as Much as Higher Ones

The value of rural markets for Western brands is becoming more and more important and, with their greater connectivity, more accessible. In fact, lower tier cities, though having smaller incomes, spend more of their disposable income on online shopping. Brick and mortar stores are also still important to netizens in all areas with over 70% opting to pop into a shop to check out their possible purchase ‘in the flesh’ before buying online.

China is Investing in Infrastructure

The growth of domestic markets that are beginning to compete with high end Western brands has also led to greater investment in infrastructure. After all, if you are selling a lot of products online then you will need adequate storage space.

According to Reuters: “It is estimated that in the next 15 years China will need to invest $2.5 trillion in land and warehouse construction, equating to 2.4 million square metres of storage space.” http://www.marketmechina.com/four-key-facts-e-commerce-china/

Online-Shopper-chinaThere are, of course difference between the consumers you find in lower tier cities and those you find in the more exclusive neighbourhoods of Shanghai. For instance, lower tier netizens are not used to luxury and tend to focus on value for money and functionality. Higher tier consumers are more likely to buy luxury, ego enhancing products to show off to their friends.

But the landscape is changing and it is doing so quickly, and nowhere is this more obvious than with Chinese domestic brands. According to Forbes: “Chinese firms have great ambitions. For many, building their own company into a global brand that’s accepted by consumers in developed economies is a matter of national pride.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/onmarketing/2014/06/30/chinas-future-in-brand-awareness/