It’s an economy that has had the world in grips. Almost reading off as a fast action novel, China as risen to the ranks of one of the most leading economies in Asia (albeit with its own set of problems). The economic rise is not unique to China as it competes with India on the race; the story, however, makes for a compelling narrative. While China is already important on the global scheme of things and international trade, the scene with digital marketing is interesting too.
While much of the west and the rest of the world can ignore China, it’s not as if there’s nothing happening within China on the digital marketing front. If nothing, the Chinese digital marketing story is just as impressive as the economic rise of the Asian dragon.
Here are some digital marketing trends you should take note for in the year 2014:
1. China has the Internet at Work
According to the China Internet Watch, here are some statistics you should take note of, made available thanks to eConsultancy.com
- The Internet banking has already come of age in China. Chinese mobile bank transactions, for instance, stand at 3.7 trillion Yuan. This volume of transactions sees a 35.9% QoQ increase.
- By Mid 2013, China’s ecommerce transactions have touched 4.4 trillion Yuan ($ 713.27 billion). This is 24.3% more than the number recorded in 2012.
- China’s B2B transactions stand at 3.4 trillion Yuan (US $551.17 billion) and are growing at the rate of %15.3 Year on Year.
China is intriguing, mysterious, and it’s a work in progress. It’s the kind of market where anything can happen.
2. The Internet Thrives in China
According to a Whitepaper on China’s Internet statistics from China Internet Watch, there are more than 564 million Internet users in China. By 2015, China will nearly have twice the number of Internet users compared to U.S and Japan. Although each region in China has a different growth rate, it’s clear that the Internet is in and happening in Mainland China. The world, as we know it, will mark that.
3. Search has a Home in China, It’s Just Not Google
Mainland China lives off Baidu and many other search engines such as Yahoo, SoSo, Youdao, Sogou, Bing, Zhong Sou, and Sina Search. Hong Kong, a part of China, does have Google working within its confines. For most brands in China, search marketing is not an option, according to a keynote presentation from Dr. Mathew McDougall, CEO & Founder of Digital Jungle.
Leading Chinese brands and many small/medium businesses understand the power of search to drive relevant traffic and customers to websites. Mr. McDougall believes that search does have an important role to play in influencing consumer behavior so the year 2014 will see more spend on search marketing. Baidu.com, meanwhile, faces stiff competition from other Chinese-based search companies.
4. Search is Bigger and Hotter than You Think
When it comes to search volumes, however, Baidu has search volumes that might make the likes of Google look like minions. While Baidu is still the top name in China for search, other search companies such as Qihoo have been nibbling into Baidu’s marketshare. According to James Brumley of Investorplace.com, Qihoo.com is the choice for about 15% of China’s web surfers while Baidu still leads with 69% of the market share.
5. Mobile is Ubiquitous
In the year 2007, there were just 50.4 million mobile users in China. By the year 2012, that number grew to 419.97 million with a 74.5% penetration rate. Popular Internet applications in China such as Weibo saw users growing in time. In 2011, there were 138.9 million Weibo users. By 2012, there were 202.41 users with a whopping 48.2% penetration rate. WeChat, another popular mobile application, registered 270 million users in 20 languages across 200 countries. Enfodesk records that by Q2 2013, Chinese Mobile IM accounts have reached 1.48 billion increasing at the rate of 21% each year. Some of the top IM clients that the Chinese swear by are Mobile QQ, WeChat, and Fetion.
6. Ecommerce is Everywhere
It’s a mad, mad world in China when it comes to ecommerce, as CNN puts it. China, however, has the world’s largest online population and China is also the world’s second largest retailing marketing clocking almost $210 billion dollars in the year 2012. EBay and Amazon.com combined cannot compete with Taobao – Alibaba’s consumer ecommerce engine.
Ecommerce is competitive in China – CNN calls it a blood sport. The Industry is still fragmented and distribution or logistics aren’t up to the standard yet. Once these loose ends are met, China is a force to reckon with.
7. Online Payments
The Chinese do pay online. Their payments fall into Online Banking, UnionPay, and other third-party payments. All of these transaction points allow payments through credit and debit cards. Online banking is secured through digital certificates while popular third-party payments include ChinaPnR, 99bill, and IPS. Some popular third-party payment facilitators include AliPay (owned by Alibaba.com), TenPay, ShengPay, Yeepaay, etc.
8. Social Media in China
Social media (apart from the IM phenomenon) has an almost abusive relationship with China. It slips in and out. Facebook isn’t in as much as Weibo is. Twiiter has a skeleton presence. According to The Guardian, most Chinese users are on mobile – with respect to social media – than on the web. Paul Carsten of Reuters.com believes that Facebook and Twitter are late for the Social media party in China.
Paul states that Facebook was valued at $118 billion in its IPO but its China market share is zero. Twitter has about 50,000 users in China. What the future has in store given that the Chinese love brands and would like to interact with each of these brands is something we’d have to wait and see.
9. The Government’s Vigil on the Internet
The Chinese government almost works on a hyperactive mode when it comes to the Internet. China has little freedom when it comes to freedom of expression, especially online. According to the new regulations passed by the Chinese Ministry of Information and Technology, users have limitations on posting to anonymous blogs, social media and forums.
10. Cross Border Commerce
The Chinese government is all about making money, in spite of its insistence on surveillance and strict Internet protocols. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce is working on policies to facilitate better platforms and smoother transactions for cross border commerce. In 2012, China’s ecommerce transactions across the borders touched 8 trillion Yuan. Will it grow? Yes.
Will China do business with the world? Yes.
How does the digital marketing scenario look like? Booming with its bag full of problems.
How do you think China is set for the digital marketing space? Share your ideas and thoughts with me.