Mark Tanner
Mark Tanner
8 July 2015 0 Comments

WeChat has taken China by storm.  It is an important part of everyday life for the 550 million monthly active users who are largely Mainland residents, and a vital channel for millions of business accounts hoping to lure Chinese consumers to buy the wares.

Yet for many brands, harvesting a WeChat account is little more than giving away some free stuff and sending regular messages that get lost in the sea of promotions in the Subscription folder, or weekly Service messages that are seen, but often mean little to the audience.

Unfortunately, just translating Facebook and Twitter posts, or even regurgitating a Weibo strategy typically won’t bare much fruit on WeChat.  Chinese are unlike consumers in other markets and WeChat is different to any other social network, so it’s a good idea to devise a WeChat marketing plan from the ground up.

WeChat has its limitations.  It isn’t an open platform like Weibo, which means it’s less viral.  Although some stories have been viewed over a hundred thousand times on WeChat, there are less viral sensations like the female armpit hair, touching belly buttons and Tasmanian lavender bears that spread on Weibo.  WeChat Service Account messages will display in a user’s main feed – the same place their friends and family messages arrive – so it’s even more important that they are personal and relevant than other social media accounts where messages show on a generic feed.

What makes WeChat exciting and unique are some of the plug-in features that can provide engagement opportunities.  As every WeChat user is on a smartphone they can access it at any time, wherever they are, allowing businesses to take advantage of features such as geotargeting, beacons and a host of other add-ons that are available to official Service Accounts.  China Skinny has put together an infograph that gives an overview of some of WeChat’s features that are available for businesses.

Chinese spend more than half of their mobile Internet time on WeChat, and it has become the default preference for consumers interacting in their everyday life, rather than native apps.  From service enquiries, to ordering food and cabs, it can be an integral part of campaigns at online and offline touch points.  Despite the hype, WeChat commerce is still tiny compared to China’s traditional online shopping channels.  A big reason is because there are less opportunities for consumers to review, compare and provide feedback effortlessly like on Taobao/Tmall or JD.  Nevertheless, WeChat payments are growing, particularly for brands that have established trust and engagement from their WeChat followers.  China Skinny can assist with that.  We hope you enjoy this week’s Skinny.

Consumers,: Chinese Consumers


The Rise of China’s Middle Class Will Create Opportunities the World Has Never Seen BeforeBy 2030, China’s middle class will reach about 93% of the urban population according to ANZ. Factoring in both income growth and urbanisation, 326 million new middle class will emerge in China’s urban areas from 2014 to 2030. The total middle class population will reach 854m in China’s urban areas.

Three Myths About Growth in Consumer Packaged GoodsOver the next decade, growth in the consumer packaged goods sector will bring the world an additional 81 Procter & Gambles or 458 equivalents of Kellogg’s. A frequent comment that is it too late to enter China is unfounded according to McKinsey, with plenty of growth for fact-based, micro market launches. The juice market, for example, will grow three times faster in Shanghai than all of Malaysia. Premium products are one of the fast growing categories in emerging markets.

A Tale of Two Chinese ConsumersRising incomes are driving consumption growth in China. According to a BCG survey, households whose income growth exceeded 5% in the past year are twice as likely to spend more in the coming year than households with slower income growth. The average affluent household is expecting nearly 11% income growth this year, versus 6% for the less affluent. Of today’s 81 million ‘high-speed’, optimistic households, 46 million are located in lower-tier cities. By 2020, 84 million of the projected 142 million high-speed households will be located in those cities. Companies currently need a presence in 530 cities to reach 80% of these households. By 2020, they will need to be in 615 cities.

What Rumsfeld Can Teach Us About China BusinessFor many China is the land of ‘unknown unknowns’ – we don’t know what we don’t know, so it’s a good idea not to approach China as just another developing Asian country, another Japan or even a different country, but a different planet.

Defying Tough Times, These Four Foreign Brands Are Successful in ChinaWhile many brands are struggling to retain high growth rates in China’s “New Normal”, brands like Ikea, Starbucks, Coach and Apple have localised and adapted well by understanding the changing Chinese consumer.

Online: Internet, Social Media & Ecommerce


Infograph: WeChat’s Functions for MarketingWeChat has evolved to offer a treasure trove of functions for both consumers and businesses hoping to engage them. Here’s our infograph summarising the big ones.

Alibaba’s Global Plan: Topple Walmart in 2015Sales on Alibaba’s platforms are expected to surpass Walmart this year, making it the world’s largest retailer according to Jack Ma.

Social Networks Blamed for China’s Rising Divorce RateChinese divorce rates have increased over 12 consecutive years, with 3.6 million divorces in 2014. A new study by magazine Banyuetan found the rise of social media has contributed to many separations.

Premium Food & Beverage


LVMH Diversifies into Chinese Food as Sales DeclineLast year, the world’s largest luxury conglomerate purchased a 90% stake in the Singapore-headquartered Crystal Jade Group for $100 million. The group mainly offers Cantonese cuisine, including snacks, hand-made noodles and baked goods and operates over 100 branch restaurants in Asia, including 13 in Mainland China cities.

Sino Wines: Industry Tackles China Taste Test: The Australian Wine and Grape Authority is launching a postcard-sized flavour “wheel” for Chinese retailers and Australian cellar doors to teach Chinese consumers about the qualities of Australian wine with Chinese descriptors. Research showed Chinese are three times more likely to use generic wine descriptors such as mellow, ­lingering or fruity than specific wine terminology.

Zombie Chicken Feet Strike Fear into Chinese SnackersChicken feet can be dubious at the best of times, but try the snack soaked in hydrogen peroxide to make them appear healthy and fresh, and extend their shelf life.

Beauty Health


Internet Companies Writing New Prescription for Health Care IndustryAn increasing number of Chinese online health care information and service providers are expanding their services offline by opening physical clinics. The Chunyu mobile app’s 58 million registered users make 80,000 health inquiries per day, with almost a third requiring follow-up treatment who could use their new clinics.

One in Five Beijingers is ObeseOver 21% of permanent residents in Beijing aged 18-79 are clinically obese. China’s nationwide obesity rate was 11.9% in 2012, up from 7.1% in 2002.

Overseas Chinese Tourists


EU to Simplify Visa Policies for Chinese Visitors: New European visa application centres are to be opened up in an additional 15 Chinese cities, allowing travellers to apply for Schengen and British visas without having to travel to cities with consulates or go through a travel agent.

This Quirky Campaign to Rename British Landmarks Boosted Chinese Visits 27%A British Tourism campaign generated 13,000 place name suggestions over 10 weeks. Nearly 30 million Chinese watched the campaign’s launch video, 2 million visited the microsite, and upward of 300 million were reached via mobile channels Weibo and WeChat.

That’s the Skinny for the week! See previous newsletter here. Contact China Skinnyfor marketing, research and digital advice and implementation.