Advertising Strategies and Lessons


Chinese Marketing Innovations Can Inspire Strategies That Capture New Audiences And Encourage Exciting Brand Evolutions

February 5, 2019 Sarah Cavill

The saturation of social media and web use in the United States can feel relentless. But compared to China, a country of more than a billion people, where some apps are being used by nearly every person, the U.S has room to be inspired. Government regulations in China limit the access Chinese people have to the entirety of the web, but the regulations also necessitate a great deal of innovation within the country itself. The population offers so many data points and so much user information that companies are able to quickly adapt and grow, creating market leadership from unexpected sources and growth strategies that provide valuable takeaways for marketers everywhere.

Short Video Apps Are Huge In China And Continue To Grow In Popularity For Users And Marketers

short video apps kwai chinese marketing

Kuaishou, which now has more than 100 million daily active users (DAU) and more than a billion videos viewed each day, was originally popular as a live-streaming app. Users in China’s lower-tier cities and rural areas used the app to keep in touch with friends and relatives. It has since become the nation’s leading short video app with more than 700 million consumers across the country. Kuaishou is one of many, many apps designed for creating short videos, some of which, like Tik Tok, are available in the U.S. Each has its own target audience from adults who really enjoy karaoke to farmers, kids and micro-influencers. Kuaishou allows marketers to innovate their campaign strategies to reach these distinct audiences.

Short video marketing (in-app 10-20 second ads that air on the platform) is popular with marketers looking for a share of the massive Kuaishou usership. “Kuaishou stands out from the competition by making its ads customizable at the user level, while providing hundreds of different criteria for segmentation. This has made it one of the fastest-growing startups in China, and one of the country’s most formidable marketing forces as well,” according to a recent article at ClickZ about the diversity of marketing strategies in China.

Chinese Marketing Innovation Takeaway: As other companies in America and elsewhere look to scale and maintain their audiences, customized short video should be considered. Nearly 75% of Kuaishou users are under 25 years old, so what works for Generation Z in China could translate to other markets.

Baidu, The Google Of China, Has Taken A Kitchen Sink Approach To Their AI Innovation, And It’s Paid Off

Baidu, the Google of China, is also the most advanced artificial intelligence (AI) company in the country. The benefit of such a large population allows for more data inputs, which can facilitate faster, more agile innovation.

baidu AI chinese marketing

Baidu’s AI is spread across many sectors. Apollo is Baidu’s “open, reliable and secure software platform” providing data, application programming interfaces (APIs), open source code and other tools to more than 50 car companies (and at least 50 additional partners) developing autonomous driving cars. By creating an open platform, Baidu accelerates the deployment of autonomous vehicles and gathers the accumulated data allowing for more up-to-date, complete innovation. The goal of Apollo is to be the brain of autonomous vehicles by 2021.

Baidu’s partnerships are a significant part of advancing their AI goals. Their DuerOs voice assistant has partnered with a 130 different companies to refine the voice technology and grow the data set, and they’ve partnered with Qualcomm and Huawei to develop a mobile AI platform. Baidu has even branched into the medical field with learning-based open source algorithms developed on their AI platform that may improve cancer detection.

Chinese Marketing Innovation Takeaway: Baidu’s unique position of having more than a billion people to collect data from may allow it a further reach with AI innovation, but it’s fearless approach, strategic partnerships and embrace of new business sectors is a lesson all companies can adopt.

WeChat Is The Everything App With A Billion Users, Highlighting The Immense Popularity Of Social Commerce Platforms

wechat chinese marketing

If you took WhatsApp, Gmail, PayPal, Yelp, Uber, your Citibank app, a bit of Facebook and Instagram, plus a seemingly limitless bevy of other services, you’d have WeChat. Indispensable to most people across China, WeChat recently topped a billion monthly active users (MAUs). It is a microcosm of every social need a modern tech user could want while also acting as an innovation hub itself. Mini-programs that tell a user how crowded a mall is, for instance, aren’t your typical social media tools. WeChat was an early adopter of using QR codes to add friends, an implementation Venmo and Spotify have recently adopted. The use of QR codes throughout the app allows for easy sharing of money between friends and for the use of WeChat pay with vendors.

Social commerce platforms, like WeChat and the latest disruptor to the market Pinduoduo, are much more popular in China than in the West, where they haven’t yet taken off. In China, social commerce is predicted to reach $150 billion dollars by 2020. As with many Chinese marketing innovations, marketing on social commerce has taken many forms, including traditional drop-in ads and coupons. Increasingly popular, group-based sales are being generated by friends sharing their purchases or wish lists. Pinduoduo is leveraging this kind of buying to major success, while social commerce is just a small part of the WeChat capabilities.

Chinese Marketing Innovation Takeaway: Social commerce may not suit all users in the U.S, but the continued evolution of different ways to buy and unique enticements for users across apps should spur creativity in UX for developers and marketers.

There are clearly differences in user preferences and access when East meets West in marketing innovations across the web and social media, but an open exchange of ideas and inspiration is always possible.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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