Mark Tanner
6 September 2013 0 Comments

China is growing at an exponential rate, both in terms of the middle class population and their purchasing power. However the majority of this growth is coming from China’s lesser known cities. A blanket approach for China isn’t feasible in most cases, so it is important to identify which cities are best to focus your marketing efforts. As the City-Nator illustrates, there’s plenty of cities in China to choose from.

Our friends at Fashionbi have evaluated the buzz on Weibo as a way to pinpoint locations where Chinese consumers love certain brands and their potential for physical store openings. For example, 19.1% of Forever 21’s Weibo page engagement came from Guangdong province, exceeding Beijing’s 13.8% and almost as high as Shanghai’s 19.7%. Forever 21’s only two Mainland China stores are in Beijing and Shanghai, but it appears that there could be enough buzz to look into an increased physical presence to service Guangdong’s large population.

Forever 21 China Weibo usage


Coach is just another brand where there’s a lot of buzz on Weibo in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. In August, 43% of buzz on Coach’s Weibo page came from minor cities, with consumers from cities in Sichuan and Jiangsu being particularly vocal on social media. Just 7% of Coach’s engagement came from Beijing and 15% from Shanghai. There are countless examples of consumers in the lesser known cities creating more buzz than the traditionally targeted markets like Beijing and Shanghai.Coach Weibo Campaign

As the middle class continues to emerge and grow in China, we will see emerging cities that are buzzing about brands from the Luxury segment to the mass-market segment. Now is a crucial time for brands to understand which locations present the greatest opportunities for expansion in China, and they may not always be where you thought or in places you’ve even heard of.

Any business with a presence in China or thinking about one, should be identifying which cities are best to target. China Skinny and tools such as Fashionbi are a good place to start to better understand consumers’ behavior and gage the potential growth of cities that will provide the most potential growth for your brand. By 2020, 75% of China’s 220 million affluent consumers will be living in China’s ‘smaller’ cities, so it’s a good idea to start planning for them now.

China's Cities' Scale

See how your city compares at