Mark Tanner
Mark Tanner
14 December 2016 0 Comments

Here are 4 more big marketing trends to look out for in China in 2017:

5. Lower Tier Cities

China’s ‘smaller’ cities have been talked about for years, but they have never been so relevant for so many products.  When monitoring interest and purchase habits online China Skinny has seen an increasing cluster of consumers from lesser known cities seeking more sophisticated and higher value products and brands.  Brick & mortar retailers in these cities are following online stores offering higher valued products, building an awareness and preference, which is causing a spiral-effect for demand offline and online.  Consumers in lower tier cities are not only becoming wealthier, but also more aware of foreign lifestyles, products and trends.  They have easier access to foreign visas and flight connections and are travelling further afield.  Note that what works in Shanghai, may not even work in Beijing due to different consumer preferences, tastes, climates, lifestyles and emotional cues.  It’s the same in lower tier cities, so best to tailor the marketing mix to specific cities or clusters and show them a little love, just like in 4 above.

Tongling Anhui lower tier city

Tongling in Anhui province is a comparatively small and not overly prosperous lower tier city of 1.7 million, but it has shops selling many imported products. There are hundreds of cities like this in China presenting opportunities for exporters.

6. Better Use of Big Data

Big data has been a buzz word for years now, but it is no longer about just ticking the box. Big data should be analysed intelligently, intuitively and in context with other considerations.  China’s hyper-connected consumers do countless activities online and offline providing some of the richest data on the planet for analysing behaviour and preferences.  There are now a plethora of ways to use big data from determining which lower tier cities to focus on, to tweaking product development and promotions, to understanding which emotional strings to pull to connect with your target market.

China big data

Chinese consumers use their smartphones for more activities than any other consumers in the world, providing a far reaching digital foot print that can be analysed to develop smarter marketing initiatives and targeting.

7. o2o2VR&AR

There is a very blurred line between online and offline touchpoints in China.  With new innovations monthly such as Amazon Go (which is likely to be mimicked in China in no time) online and offline will cross over even more.  Now Virtual and Augmented Reality are adding a whole new dimension to the mix – Virtual Reality was the most-searched for tech term on Baidu in 2016.  With companies like Alibaba selling VR goggles for a fraction of a cent and the explosion of games such as Pokemon Go, VR and AR have become accessible and adopted by mainstream consumers.  Uses for VR and AR will span beyond marketing and sales functions and will be increasingly used for training and engagement for customer care, sales and other staff across China.

Cheap VR China

Virtual Reality has become accessible to mainstream Chinese consumers thanks to low-cost accessories. These cardboard goggles were available as part of Single’s Day this year for less than 1c, where users just insert their smartphone and shop in virtual stores.

8. Truly Social Commerce

One of the most exciting innovations in China where it is leading the world is social commerce – the ability to buy and sell from a platform such as WeChat.  There are now more than 5 times more social commerce than ecommerce stores.  Smart brands will leverage the enormous potential of social fans by turning them into sales people and incentivising and rewarding them to sell your wares to their trusted networks of friends, family and colleagues.

WeChat social commerce

Here is an example of a WeChat massage and booking page from beautician Xiaomeidaojia, which utilises location-based services to allow users to book and pay for an appointment from a masseuse close by.

There it is!  In such a dynamic market as China, it was always going to be difficult to keep it to eight.  One important thing to note is how closely interrelated the eight trends are, and how they should be viewed as part of a bigger picture with everything else that you are doing.  At China Skinny, we often get requests for projects like digital strategies, but will often tie in relevant offline considerations when delivering such recommendations.

Although we haven’t included it in the eight, we hope the biggest trend for 2017 will be more awareness from brands of just how integrated everything is, with more willingness to strategise with a view that everything is connected.  Wishing you a prosperous and happy 2017 – China Skinny hopes to be able to assist with you in achieving that! Contact us to discuss how.


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