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Digital Content Marketing in China

The key for successful digital marketing is having quality content that is both informative and entertaining. In China, it plays a particularly huge part in influencing potential new customers as well as keeping the existing ones. Brands usually expect a high and fast return on their digital marketing investment and in order to reach that goal they have to create personalized content for each specific market, suitable for each different platform.

What is the Goal for Content Marketing?

There are 3 target points when developing a digital marketing strategy:

  • Generating a buzz for the brand or product.
  • Driving sales to online and offline channels.
  • Promote specific products.

Image Source: Brotzeit official Wechat Channel

Content created by brands needs to be in line with their existing positioning of brand elements. This means that content connects to the brand story, builds from consumer experience with the brand, and ultimately increases brand recognition and visibility on the platform. A digital marketing strategy needs to connect to the overall retail strategy. The most successful international brands create their content around a positive, strong message, like the happiness of Coca Cola, the independent, unique mindset of Apple, or the hard work and dedication of Huawei.

Social Media Platforms in China

The platforms that can be used for digital marketing campaigns are completely different from the Western ones; instead of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Google, brands utilize WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin. They all have their own specifics and the content posted on them varies regarding the style and their target audience.

  • WeChat: This is one of the most useful apps in China. Users can chat, browse, pay, and read about their favorite brands and updates. Brands can publish their company details, articles with text, video, and pictures, share promotions throughout their official accounts, mini-programs and moments feed.
  • Douyin: Originally, the app was used among millennials to share fun, short videos but nowadays brands can make the most out of this platform as well by creating brand-specific challenges, using product placement and KOL promotion in their videos. This platform is similar to its Western counterpart, TikTok.
  • Weibo: Literally translates to microblog that allows users to share short updates with a 140 character limit. The platform offers similar functions as the combination of Twitter and Facebook and allows brands to host their official account, connect with other users while promoting the brand.

Image Source: Tim Hortons

Marketing Platforms in Use

One example of a successful WeChat campaign was Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘Kissing Habits’ survey. It captured users’ star sign and gender and then it created a personalized lipstick recommendation from their latest collection. The second part of the campaign was ‘A Time To Kiss’ mini-films. These short films featured the love stories of couples with a theme of lipstick color. In order to encourage proactive participation in the campaign, they extended its reach by letting customers tag their friends for a chance to win a lip gloss.

“China: This Week In Digital Luxury Marketing”

Image Source: Jing Daily

The general direction for successful marketing campaigns on Douyin is to create an innovative, trendy video and to participate in challenges. Haidilao, a hotpot chain restaurant successfully combined elements of offline and online marketing. When Douyin users order their special DIY recipes, the delivery staff bring a special hot pot set to change up their hot pot experience. Users posted their hot pot videos on Douyin together with a number of KOLs to boost the campaign. The result was more than 2,000 videos and more than 50 million views in total.

“Douyin Marketing Guide: 7 Examples of Successful Douyin Marketing Campaigns”

Image Source:

When Starbucks released its special limited edition “Cat paw” cups, they used Douyin, Weibo, and Xiaohongshu as a marketing tool for the pre-launch. The social media presence generated high discussion volume and excitement for the actual launch.

Wagas is a Western-style restaurant serving healthy food. It was founded in Shanghai and has restaurants in more than 10 cities all over China. Their social media presence is remarkable. They are consistent in building up their healthy lifestyle brand both on WeChat and Douyin. Aside from their more informative postings, they never forget about their younger followers and create videos with dancing challenges.

Image Source: Wagas

Challenges of Content Creation

Content creation is not always a smooth process and requires a lot of research and analysis. The ultimate goal of content creation is to reach the target audience. This means understanding the type of content they want to see and providing it to them in the right format. In addition to this, the content presented on platforms needs to fit within the ecosystem of the social platform seamlessly. Understanding trends in the fast-changing environment of these platforms becomes an important factor.

The core is to find the best style that resonates with the target audience:

  • Written content (articles and reports) is a great way to convey logical information and analysis to the reader.
  • Influential content featuring KOLs, trending discussions, and hashtags are great tools when it comes to connecting with Millennials and GenZ.
  • Video content either short or long, video is the most effective tool for visual messages and to get the attention of the viewer.
  • Gamification has also become increasingly important within the past 5 years. Chinese consumers love to participate in interactive promotions especially if it is incorporated into online games.

When it comes to content, the general expectations in China are quirky, engaging, fun, and interesting digital marketing campaigns. Social media users prefer to take part in games, challenges, and competitions.


This blog post was originally published by Melchers’ Retail Partner 5 Star Plus Retail Design, an interior design company specializing in the branded design of retail stores and restaurants. The original post can be found here.


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