ENTER NEW MARKETS WITH MARKETPLACE MARKETING IN CHINA

China is one of the biggest players in the world of e-commerce, setting the pace for digital consumption and setting new benchmarks in marketplace marketing. With over 850 million digitally enabled consumers and a growing middle class, China offers unprecedented opportunities for brands looking to expand their global footprint.

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    Digital Marketing
    in China

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    SEO
    in China

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    Social Advertising
    in China

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    KOL Marketing
    in China

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    Marketplace marketing tactics

    Success in China’s vibrant digital marketplaces requires a bespoke marketing strategy. Here are some core tactics that we employ:

    1. Understanding your target audience: China’s digital landscape is way more intricate than the average one in the west. The first step that you’ll have to take when starting out with marketplaces in China is finding out where your TA resides, and how they like to be approached.  
    2. Localization: This extends beyond simple language translation. Our experts work to tailor your brand’s messaging to align with local cultural nuances, tastes, and preferences.
    3. Social Commerce: Leveraging the power of social media to integrate e-commerce functionalities. Platforms like WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin (TikTok) are instrumental in merging social interactions with online shopping experiences.
    4. Data-Driven Decision Making: Harnessing real-time analytics to guide your brand’s strategy. Data-driven insights allow for dynamic adjustments, helping your brand stay ahead of consumer behavior trends.
    5. Influencer Marketing: Leveraging the influence of Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs) to boost your brand’s credibility, visibility, and reach.

    What Makes Marketplaces in China Unique?

    China’s marketplaces are distinguished by their seamless integration of e-commerce, social media, entertainment, and everyday services. This ecosystem enables a holistic and engaging shopping experience, often referred to as “retailtainment”, that goes far beyond the transactional process found in western platforms.

    Another unique characteristic is the presence of live-streaming e-commerce, where influencers promote products via live videos, a phenomenon that has exploded in popularity and effectively blends entertainment with shopping.

    In addition to this, China is especially unique when it comes to their internationally known and revered marketplaces. eCommerce giants like Temu, AliExpress and JD.com have become staple names, also outside of China and Asia as a whole, serving more than 200 countries throughout the world. They generate billions of dollars worth of eCommerce revenue all across the world, with China as their logistics hub.

    Different Marketplaces in China

    Understanding the key players in China’s e-commerce scene is fundamental to a successful marketing strategy:

    Alibaba’s Tmall

    Tmall, operated by Alibaba Group, stands as the largest Business-to-Consumer (B2C) online retail platform in China. Offering a comprehensive portfolio of both international and domestic brands, Tmall enables businesses to reach a vast customer base. Its unique setup allows brands to set up storefronts, providing a marketplace environment that closely mirrors a traditional retail setting but with the benefits of online commerce.

    Tmall is especially popular among middle-class Chinese consumers who are increasingly drawn to high-quality, branded goods. The platform is recognized for its major sales events, like Singles Day (November 11th), which shatters global online sales records year after year.

    JD.com

    JD.com, or Jingdong, is another prominent player in the Chinese online retail market. The platform is renowned for its commitment to quality and authenticity, a reputation that attracts brands and consumers alike. JD.com is particularly dominant in categories such as electronics and home appliances, making it the go-to online platform for these purchases.

    Unlike Tmall, JD.com holds an inventory model, meaning that it purchases goods from suppliers before selling to customers. This ensures a high level of control over the supply chain, enabling fast deliveries and authenticity guarantees – features highly appreciated by Chinese consumers.

    Pinduoduo

    Pinduoduo offers a distinctive twist on e-commerce through its group-buying model. The platform attracts price-sensitive consumers with its lower-priced products and the opportunity to further reduce prices by forming purchasing groups with friends and family. This approach appeals to consumers in lower-tier cities and rural areas, tapping into a vast market segment often overlooked by other platforms.

    Pinduoduo also incorporates a fun, game-like shopping experience, with interactive features and generous discounts. It’s the place where social commerce, entertainment, and shopping truly merge, which contributes to its soaring popularity.

    The rise of self-owned eCommerce

    Now before we start preaching about self-owned eCommerce, it’s good to make you aware of some of the prerequisites of starting out with this form of eCommerce in China. Customers in China have gotten used to bigger platforms and shops within the ecosystems to be their safest bet when shopping online. While established brands are absolutely able to depend on their brand to solve this initial distrust for smaller, unknown brands and shops, it’s good to take this into account when thinking about starting out with self-owned eCommerce. It’s absolutely to be recommended that before starting out with a self-owned shop, a brand establishes itself in the market, through branded storefronts on the existing marketplaces. That said, let’s dive into why self-owned brands do what they do!

    Over the past few years, self-owned eCommerce has been growing steadily. The idea of having your own eCommerce store, in addition to having storefronts on huge platforms like Tmall and JD.com, has been growing in popularity. This can be done in either of two ways: by attaching a shop to your official WeChat account, or by opening a traditional webshop. They bring a few big wins with them that working with big, third-party platforms simply lacks.

    1. Creative freedom: One of the biggest pros for investing in self-owned eCommerce is the utter lack of limitations. Nobody can influence how your product is shown to your customers, and you have full creative control over your output and marketing outings, apart from government regulations. 
    2. Full control over product margins: Without a third party influencing your product positioning, and discounts, you have full control again over your product margins and pricing. In short: an easy way to increase your revenue. Though this does mean that you need to up your proposition, to increase your product’s perceived value. 
    3. The best of both worlds: Another huge advantage of self-owned eCommerce is that you can still make use of payment platforms like WeChat Pay and AliPay. This helps with convenient payment method setup, and also adds a layer of trust and recognition into your platform, as the Chinese customer is used to operating fully within these ecosystems. This combines total freedom with safe payments and a clear trust-signal, the best of both worlds. 

    Domestic & cross-border selling

    There’s a huge misconception regarding selling in China, namely that your product and company have to be registered in China to be able to sell on the Chinese market. But get this: when running a cross-border (eCommerce) business, it will absolutely suffice to have all of your products, and your company, registered in another country, as long as it’s registered as a legitimate foreign entity. This opens a world of possibilities for businesses that want to enter the Chinese market. You can easily do a test run with your products and shop, without even ‘registering’ them in China. 

    A few more interesting pointers relating to selling your products, and establishing your business proposition and online presence in China. 

    • Huge domestic figures: Even though the big players like Tmall and JD offer ample opportunities to sell goods via cross-border, the interesting thing is that only 10 to 20% of sales on these platforms are actually done by  cross-border shops. A whopping 80 to 90% of all sales done by the Chinese behemoths is done domestically. 
    • Logistic advantages: One of the biggest advantages of selling online in China to the Chinese audience, is the convenience of systems like JD Logistics to manage your shipping and handling. Freeing up loads of time to work on other facets of your business. 

    Quickstart to selling in China: Being able to have your business entity abroad makes it way easier for companies to get started on the market. Was your testing successful? Great! Did it not reap the results that you dreamed of? Oh well! Then you know how to optimize your proposition, or that you might want to move on to the next market.

    Got some questions about marketplaces in China?

    How do I market my products in China's marketplace?

    To market your products in China's marketplace, you can consider the following strategies: 1. Utilize popular Chinese e-commerce platforms like Alibaba's Tmall and JD.com, which have a large customer base. 2. Understand the preferences and habits of Chinese consumers and tailor your marketing campaigns accordingly. 3. Leverage Chinese social media platforms such as WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin to engage with potential customers and promote your products. 4. Collaborate with Chinese influencers or Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) to endorse your products and reach a wider audience. 5. Localize your marketing materials by translating them into Chinese and adapting them to the Chinese cultural context.

    What are the popular online marketplaces in China?

    Some of the popular online marketplaces in China include: 1. Tmall: The largest business-to-consumer platform, owned by Alibaba Group. 2. JD.com: Another major e-commerce platform, known for its wide range of products and fast delivery. 3. Pinduoduo: A social commerce platform that offers discounted products through group buying. 4. Suning.com: A retailer that operates both online and offline, offering a variety of products. 5. Vipshop: A flash-sales platform specializing in discounted fashion and luxury goods.

    How can I reach Chinese consumers through social media?

    To reach Chinese consumers through social media, you can: 1. Create official accounts on popular Chinese social media platforms like WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin. 2. Regularly post engaging content related to your products, promotions, and brand story. 3. Collaborate with Chinese influencers or KOLs to promote your products and increase brand exposure. 4. Utilize social commerce features, such as WeChat Mini Programs, to facilitate purchases directly through social media platforms. 5. Engage with your followers by responding to comments, running interactive campaigns, and providing customer support.

    What are some key cultural considerations when marketing in China?

    When marketing in China, it is important to consider the following cultural aspects: 1. Language: Ensure that your marketing materials are accurately translated into Chinese. 2. Colors and symbols: Understand the cultural meanings associated with colors and symbols in China to avoid any unintended negative connotations. 3. Festivals and holidays: Align your marketing campaigns with Chinese festivals and holidays, such as Chinese New Year and Singles' Day, to leverage increased consumer spending during these periods. 4. Guanxi (relationship-building): Building trust and maintaining good relationships with business partners and customers is highly valued in China. 5. Collectivism: Chinese culture emphasizes group harmony and collectivism, so highlighting product benefits for the community or family can be effective.

    What are the current consumer trends in the Chinese marketplace?

    Some current consumer trends in the Chinese marketplace include: 1. Digitalization: Chinese consumers are increasingly relying on digital platforms for shopping, entertainment, and communication. 2. Health and wellness: There is a growing interest in health-conscious products, organic food, and fitness-related services. 3. Premiumization: Consumers are willing to pay for higher-quality products and personalized experiences. 4. Sustainability: Environmental awareness is gaining importance, and consumers are seeking eco-friendly products and responsible brands. 5. Cross-border e-commerce: Chinese consumers are showing interest in international brands and products, leading to the growth of cross-border e-commerce platforms like Kaola and NetEase Yanxuan.

    Ready to start scaling your business internationally?

    We’re ready to start growing your business across borders, are you? Let’s get started with some info about your challenge!

      First name *

      Last name *

      E-mail *

      Phonenumber *

      Desired expansion markets *

      Approximate monthly budget (euro) *

      Any additional context