Digital is the way to go

Competition is more intense than ever, and if Australian companies want to get in front of Chinese consumers, digital is the way to go. The reason for this can be broken down into three parts.

  • An overload of television and print media advertising in China over the past decade or so has left them desensitised.
  • Budget constraints are a concern for most Australian brands, making it harder to compete against the growing slew of cheaper digital alternatives.
  • China has become one of the most technologically progressive nations in the world. China’s digital landscape is an intricate web of social media sites, live-streaming apps, peer-to-peer review platforms, e-commerce marketplaces and virtual payments. It’s time to think modern.

A digitally-dominated landscape

The truth of the matter is, Chinese consumers prefer mobile and social media far more than traditional forms of advertising, and that’s hardly surprising. Out of the 1.3 billion people in China, 840 million use the internet on a daily basis. Out of this figure, a whopping 98.6% accessed the internet through a mobile device. This reduces the importance of traditional means (like newspapers, billboards etc.). This coincides with China’s 2020 total ad expenditure estimates (by Statistica), in which digital would account for 73% versus traditional of just 8.1%.

Chinese people prefer mobile and digital advertising over traditional
Image Credit: Stock Photo

Use of digital media in reaching Chinese consumers is set to become more prominent in the long term as well. Digital advertising is expected to account for 75.6% of total ad expenditure in China by 2021.

Mobile will be king

According to Digital 2019 China (by Hootsuite and WeAreSocial), 97% of China’s adults own a mobile device, compared to desktop which sits at just over 50%. This is in fact good news for businesses. Mobile devices are so common in China because it gives them instant portable access to the vast digital ecosystem of apps that Chinese people use on a day to day. WeChat, Weibo, XiaoHongShou are just a few apps which Chinese people are on every day (the average Chinese adult spends nearly 6 hours per day on the internet). From communications, reviews, shopping to even, yes — checking for news and brand updates.

Chinese digital media landscape
Image Credit: SekkeiStudio

Search advertising will remain substantially more useful than other forms such as video and banner ads, social media advertising, and classifieds. In particular, mobile ad revenue will be the key winner in China going forward, and is already outranking desktop significantly.

Take WeChat for example, the most popular social media platform in China for people and brands alike. Out of its 1.15 billion total users (worldwide), unique visitors via desktop had dropped by over 4% year-on-year in 2018, and then  The monthly unique visitors across the desktop devices dropped by 3.9% year-on-year to 509 million in 2018. Average time spent consuming media content on mobile devices per user was 2.3 times more than that of the desktop. The total monthly unique audience accessing the internet via mobile devices was around 1.3 billion.

Device usage, mobile vs desktop China 2019
Image Credit: WeAreSocial

What can Australian brands do?

In order to be aware of consumer trends and behaviour, Australian brands will benefit greatly from focusing on more digital marketing and advertising, rather than traditional methods i.e. television and print media.

Right off the bat, they can accomplish this by:

  • Optimising websites for Baidu (China’s primary search engine) to increase better visibility online.
  • Having a brand presence on not one, but multiple Chinese platforms, e.g. WeChat, Weibo, XiaoHongShou, Douyin, Toutiao, Douban etc.
  • Begin monitoring digital analytics and metrics to form more engaging content that can be tailored to region, dialect, age, gender and more.
  • Identify the Chinese KOLs best suited to your brand and budget and liaise with them to arrange cooperative partnerships.

All in all, brands have to get smarter. Why invest heavily in TVC or other forms of offline advertising when Chinese digital platforms offer a more cost-effective approach for communicating with Chinese consumers and enhance brand awareness?

Can Australian Brands Survive?

Breaking into the Chinese market means Australian brands must find their own niche or uniqueness in this extremely crowded market. This is the only way to get noticed and win over Chinese customers, particularly with limited Australian marketing budgets.

Brands will need to be more conceptual in their thinking as Chinese customers want to know what your product stands for, its essence and value proposition. Is it Australian-made, family business, boutique or organic?

bobbi the bear given to chinese president
Image Credit: Weekly Times Now
  • Tasmania’s Bridestowe Lavender Estate won the hearts of Chinese people across the nation with their lavender Bobbie The Bear, and inspiring brand story: the transformation of a struggling family farm into a flourishing retail business. Bobbi The Bear was so popular, that it was given to Chinese president Xi Zinping as a representative gift during his visit to Tasmania.
  • New Zealand’s EcoStore entered the Chinese market two years ago, positioning its products as pure, organic and baby-friendly. It is now enjoying success in a relatively short time.
  • Australia’s KORA Organics has leveraged the popularity of its founder Miranda Kerr to instil confidence and trust. KORA products were marketed as premium and fully natural, encouraging a healthier and more organic lifestyle.

These examples show why it is so important to pin down your brand’s unique value proposition before conducting any campaigns.

KORA Organics Miranda Kerr
Image Credit: Get The Gloss

Get Started Now

Digital marketing channels are in a dramatic state of flux, and that is perfectly mirrored in China. For this reason, Australian brands need to move much faster in response to market trends and current affairs.On-demand, real-time campaign assessment and review is essential for the Chinese market, where data analytics is key to unlocking customer value and campaign direction. Drafting a 12-month plan and not reviewing it for a year simply won’t work. You need quarterly or even monthly strategic reviews just to keep pace.

This is why it’s so necessary to find a Chinese marketing agency that will go above and beyond for your brand. At Vantage Digital, we do exactly that. Whether you’re a start-up looking to kickstart your Chinese social media, a mid-sized company looking for KOL partnerships, or a multinational looking for an extensive Chinese marketing campaign, you can count on us. We deliver value and measurable results through quality marketing strategies and strategic thinking.

What’s more, we’re so easy to partner with — in fact, collaboration is something we truly pride ourselves on. We can help any brand get started on their journey, and be with them every step of the way. So the question is, are you ready to take your Chinese marketing to the next level?