Retail in Asia


What are the biggest online marketing trends in China right now?

One of the biggest trends in online selling in China right now is the diversification of platforms and methods. Yet, despite the hype around alternative channels, traditional e-commerce platforms still account for the largest share of sales, by far.

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One of the most talked-about methods, livestreaming, accounts for just 14 percent of total online sales in China. That’s still a substantial USD 317 billion worth of sales last year, but most Chinese shoppers aren’t sitting through broadcasts and making impulsive purchases for the majority of their shopping.

Similarly, Douyin, which has been one of the fastest growing sales platforms, and one of the most-hyped, still sells well under USD 1 worth of goods for every USD 5 that sell on Alibaba platforms. Douyin’s much-lauded competitor, Kuaishou, sells a lot less, although it is reportedly following Douyin in developing its own fully-serviced e-commerce supply chain.

As neither Douyin or Kuaishou have been built as a sales channel from the ground up, brands should be sensitive about how they use them to peddle their wares.

An analysis of the behavior on Douyin has found that if there was more than 10 percent of traffic dedicated to e-commerce content in a video feed, it reduces user retention and time spent on the platform. Douyin has recognised this, quietly lowering the ratio of e-commerce livestreams to other livestreams, from 30 percent to 20 percent. Douyin aims to soon have 25 percent of platform sales coming from its made-for-purpose mall.

The data illustrates that brands shouldn’t define their channel strategy around a single criteria such as sales. They also shouldn’t assume that each channel represents a single point in the customer journey. Understanding at which points each platform fits into the sales cycle, allows brands to optimize their communications and function based on this.

Douyin, Kuaishou and other short video and livestreaming platforms often play an important role early in the customer journey. They can build awareness and preference, in addition to encouraging trial and driving sales. Consumers respond to different drivers at each of these stages on each of the platforms, and brands should be cognisant of these when planning their channel strategies. Similarly, consumers use traditional e-commerce platforms as an important research and loyalty channel, in addition to buying goods.

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Also on channel strategies, brands must recognise the potential of video platform, Bilibili. Although it doesn’t get the airtime of some other platforms, it continues to be an increasingly resonant touch point for many Chinese consumers. Some 332.6 million users were active on the platform every month last quarter, up 25 percent from a year earlier. Almost a third of them were active daily.

Source: China Skinny