What Foreign Brands Should Know about Marketing to China


For the western marketers, communication with social networking sites Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is a daily routine. Integrating Search Engine Information and Search Engine Optimization information “SEO” and the management of advertising campaigns through Google ads.


What Foreign Brands Should Know about Marketing to China

But in China, You can only do online marketing through home social networks.

China has a different digital ecosystem than the West

Neither of these platforms is legally available in China. However, this does not mean that in this country online marketing is weak. On the contrary. Promotion of businesses, brands and products is increasingly online in China. Are you asking how is this possible?

The Great Firewall of China 

The existence of a Chinese firewall, also known as the “Great Firewall of China” has prompted a unique online ecosystem that goes far beyond the traditional American ecosystem (Google, Twitter, et al.) Let me introduce them to you by associating them with the most similar media used by European market. Chinese social networks began as copies of the original from the West. However, they all gradually evolved into a kind of “super social networking” that the Western media could rightly envy.


China’s social network → its western equivalent

  • WeChat – super application → Facebook, WhatsApp, ApplePay, Instagram
  • Sina Weibo → Twitter, Instagram
  • Youku, DouYin (TikTok), Bilibili → Youtube
  • Huaban → Pinterest
  • Tmall, JD, Taobao → Amazon, Ebay

From the overview it is clear that China has its own equivalent of each of the most widely used social media for online promotion that marketers use every day.
Google vs. Baidu

How to be found?

While the US marketplace is Google’s Internet search, in China, where Google is banned, it is the leader domestic Baidu. Search Engine Optimization SEO and paid search engine advertising in China will not work without Baidu. (more info about baidu here)

As a regular user, when you search through Baidu, you may notice that English words you search for will be answered almost exclusively in Chinese, with the most of links being displayed on Chinese pages. An exception is Apple’s technology giants, which are shown in both languages as they are extremely popular in China.
Initial advices for foreign marketers.

Mobile Website first 

Any website in China must be mobile optimized from the start. Most Chinese view the site from mobile devices. Page load time is also important in China, so you need to choose hosting to be as responsive as possible. The website should be in Mandarin Chinese and use a simplified script that is used in inland China.
Successful online marketing of foreign companies can only be done if the local specifics and the cultural mentality are fully understood and taken into account. Forget western social media, but adapt to the Chinese ones.

Also, keep adding new content constantly. In China, it’s much more important to have a regularly updated website than having a many years of history. Incorporating voice searching can be a great competitive advantage for a foreign company in the Chinese market in the future.

What Mistakes Foreigners usually Make when Marketing to China?

Western brands have to understand in great detail how Chinese consumers buy products and think carefully how they can be part of that process.
If Western brands try to ‘go it alone’ or think that they can redirect consumers to a Western-style web form payment screen, then they will likely fail in China.
Western consumers follow brands, whereas Chinese consumers follow people who follow brands.
So there is little point in brands trying to advertise using fake consumers, says Kestrel Lee. Instead, Western brands need to engage real people in China and integrate themselves into the everyday lives of consumers.

How to avoid these Mistakes? 

There is also a marketing agencies for help avoiding mistakes from like Misunderstanding Traditional Chinese Culture, Not Properly Translating Campaign Messaging to Misusing Stereotypical Images of the Old China and many more.

Marketing agencies are here to help

For sure west brands can study Chinese market themselves or they can try it on European way. But here are a few professionals on the market too.
Gentlemen Marketing Agency (GMA)

One of the good examples is a successful agency GMA based in Shanghai. (agency.marketingtochina.com)

They know that Chinese consumers are totally different from the rest of the world. A lot of international brands failed in China because of the lack of some information about what the Chinese customers really want. It’s not complicated to understand Chinese people, you can work with a digital marketing in order to help you to find the right marketing strategies to enter in China.
Chinese people do not believe in the advertised merits of television or radio ads and prefer to search the internet. They are much more hesitant to buy and will learn more about the product to be sure not to be scammed.

GMA is a Digital Marketing Agency that is expert in helping foreign companies to establish or strengthen their position in China. They are a growing team of 75 marketers with a passion for China and digital marketing. With 7 years of existence, GMA have had many satisfied customers who regularly come back to them to run their lastest campaigns.
Moreover GMA have a huge range of services necessary for supporting western brand marketes which these should feel like ready to go with their expanding to China.

Katarina Sedlakova


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