Douyin New E-Commerce Strategy to Reach Chinese Millenials

What’s Douyin? 

Douyin also called TikTok in Western Countries is an application created by the Chinese group Bytedance in September 2016. The application allows the production of creative videos (production, music, editing and effect). Even if people tend to believe that the two platforms are identical, they actually bear two different products. The Chinese can only download Douyin, the foreigners can only download TikTok (this distinction is made to avoid the problems of censored content to which foreigners are not subject in their country). 

For the anecdote, the application was developed in just 200 days in just one year, yet Douyin has brought together a community of nearly 100 million users and has become the second most downloaded application in China. It was a year later in September 2017 that the brand decided to set up abroad under the name “TikTok” and 11 months later in August 2018, Toutiao bought the application musical.ly and the two applications merged. In October 2018, TikTok became the most valued startup, valued at 75 billion dollars.

The platform is formidable, once connected just swipe to preview the videos that start automatically, an addiction which allowed Douyin to reach the summit!

Who’s watching Douyin videos? 

Douyin’s audience is based on very young people: 52.8% are under 24 years old, 27.9% are between 25 and 29 years old. Women are also significantly more present than men on the platform with 66.4% female users. Moreover, 64% live in cities of 1st, 2nd or 3rd rank (which shows people with potential means to consume e-commerce products).

So it’s a good way to target digital native or Chinese millennials. Brands can take advantage of this interactive platform to ensure that users participate in marketing campaigns.

Creating official account for brands 

Douyin created specific official account for brand who wanted to be represented on the platform and also start launching their own marketing campaign. The total fee for creating this account is only 600 RMB. This feature allow your account to add the « verified » icon next to your brand name, which allow your account to gain visibility and credibility! Also once you are verified on Douyin, your account in Jinri Toutiao can also be verified automatically by affiliating your accounts together.

You are probably asking yourself why is it so important to get your account verified ? Actually it isn’t  super important but it can allow you to access to some very interesting features like : access to specific data on Douyin users, more control over sales and content distribution. Having a corporate profile also allows you to : put the link of your company’s website so that users can easily reach your website, also verifies account can be shown at the top of the research for selected keywords (there is kind of a SEO strategy growing here). You also are able to pin relevant videos on top of your company’s Douyin page whereas basic users can’t. Finally as a verified account you are able to upload longer videos, more precisely videos that can be as 1 minute long (against 15 seconds only for basic users). 

Also, a new feature has been launch for company, this feature is called « Dou place » it allows company to target their ads to specific audience. This feature works like a tool pretty similar to facebook advertising. The brand setup a budget and specific target audience, Douplace is able to give the company an estimated number of clicks and engagement.

Using Douyin ads 

Douyin like all the big platform generating a lot of traffic offers ads solutions. There are three different ones.

First type of ads are the ads that appear in the video feed when users use the platform. Videos can last up to 60 seconds (if the account is verified) and can integrate an internal link to the Douyin platform. The cost of these ads are in cost per thousand impression or cost per click.

Secondly, this is called the “splash ad” which is actually advertising that starts before opening the app for a few seconds. These ads are launched maximum 4 times a day. The payment of this type of ads is either between 800,000 RMB and 1 million RMB or in cost per mille (CPM) between 50 and 60 RMB.

Third: campaigns in partnership with KOLs, very interesting because they bring the attention of their community (consisting of 10,000 to several million fans!). The price depends on their popularity and the type of content you want them to create. Most often on Douyin KOL campaigns begin with a contest to engage users to do the same to win the prices of the companies at the origin of the campaign. But the company can also give the influencer free rein, allowing him to play on the knowledge he or she has of his community to find out what is most enjoyable and what works best.

Last but not least, brands can create their own stickers or other designs that users can embed in their videos to create their content.

How Douyin transform into an e-commerce platform? 

The key opinion leader quickly became integrated on the platform that is Douyin, with its intuitive interface and its engagement with the users. KOLs seeking to monetize their community and influence often seek to create their own e-commerce selling products they use for their followers to buy.

With this in mind, in May 2018 Douyin began  to release a feature on the platform for the creation of a shopping cart. Originally only influencers with over a million subscribers could try this feature.

Then in June 2018 to increase the visibility of the e-commerce feature, Douyin invited a hundred KOLs, celebrities and companies to test the shopping cart in their use of the app.

Furthermore, in September 2018, Douyin announced the release of “Shine Tour Platform” which is a platform allowing brands who want to promote their product via Douyin’s Key Opinion Leaders to pay a commission of 30% to increase the visibility of their product.

For November 11, 2018 (双 十一 or “single’s day” is the most important online selling day and breaking sales records worldwide) nearly 100,000 products were sold and the total amount of sales has reached 200 million yuan.

In December, Douyin decided to lower the follower limit bar to 8000 to allow less influential KOLs to be able to link their Taobao account to their Douyin account. However at the end of December, any user with the only condition to have posted at least 10 video on Douyin has the possibility of connected his shop Taobao to his account Douyin.

« Shopping Cart » : using Douyin to sell to Chinese 

The first step to setting up an e-commerce system on Douyin is -of course- to create an official account for the brand.

Second important step is the post of videos, it is up to the company to make a choice between videos of professional type to promote its products, or videos simpler to achieve but also closer to the audience that can create links and users (potentially future buyers) to identify themselves to the account. Like the brand Xiaomi for example, who decided to make amateur-type videos and even hires followers, they sent their own content to feed the company’s account page.

The system is based on a deal with the Alibaba group holding the Taobao and Tmall platforms. Users can use links in their video to link products to a Taobao shop. The products are quite varied, but the most popular are definitely fashion or fashion related products (accessories , …).

The products are easily found on the influencer’s profile with their respective links. Links to Taobao shops are the most common way for KOLs to sell their products.

However Douyin also has its own trading platform allowing to buy directly within the application without having to leave it. The advantage of this platform is that it allows to link the store on other platform of the group like Toutiao, Huoshan or Xigua for example.

Douyin plays a lot with actors like the KOLs who are relevant to get the attention of the younger generation, who identifies with these personality. The app has contracts with the most influential Asian figures. Allowing brands wishing to use Douyin for marketing content to play with their influence.

Share products from Douyin

If your account is already a verified company account, things are easier. If not : to access this feature you need to go into your settings to « manage account » and « identity verification ». 

And then go back to your settings go to « 商品分享功能 » and then you need to fill an application to use the feature (click : 立刻申请). If everything is good you will probably just need few hours to get your account to have the access to this feature. 

However, you need to pretty rapidly add products to you account’s store : add the product, and then create and upload the video in which you will link your product (you have 12 days to do so) otherwise, your feature will not be working anymore and you’ll have to go through the process again.

If this is a good way to get some pocket money, this allows access to pretty « cheap » stores, no « brands » are available, and products are usually low budget. 

Linking your Taobao

The following steps allow to link Taobao store to your Douyin account : 

  • Go to settings « 设置 »
  • Choose Toolbox « 电商工具箱 »
  • Choose the option connect to Taobao « 淘宝账号绑定 »

You’re done linking your accounts together! Adding items is pretty similar to the Douyin classic store process, you just have to click on Taobao option to make sure you can link some products from your Taobao store.

Create your own Douyin Store

This feature is already available but not the most used compared to linked Taobao Stores. However the process is going through the website of Douyin. You will need to be a Chinese citizens or your company must be registered in China.

KOLs Strategies 

Like any other social network, on Douyin, KOLs are booming. So, for any brands who wants to raise awareness around their company, establishing a KOL strategy is very important. 

KOLs have strong communities that identifies to their personality and behavior, which makes their advices, review much more authentic and relevant to their audience. Moreover, most of the KOLs are operating on different social network, creating different communities on each of them, so when working with a KOL on Douyin, it is also possible to switch the campaign and raise awareness on other social networks.

To make your brand visible and raise attractively your brand must leverage the Chinese social network ecosystem, with Weibo and WeChat of course but also new platform like Douyin, that has proven to be full of opportunities and new challenges for Chinese as well as International brands. This excuse new feature of « shopping cart » on Douyin’s platform might be the thing that will push brands to invest more and more in this new marketing ecosystem.

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8 thoughts on “Douyin New E-Commerce Strategy to Reach Chinese Millenials”

  1. Douyin is really useful in China today, I guess they will beat WeChat …
    Bytedance(Douyin toutiao) became the world’s most valuable startup

    1. Marketers are investing into mainly KOL on douyin, and Douyin providing entertaining content to reach new consumers.
      Douyin is getting more and more popular, and is a new media for Brands.

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