With Double 11 Shopping Day (also known as Singles’ Day) less than a week away, most brands and retailers in China will be well into their preparations for this peak ecommerce sales season.
However, owing to the global pandemic, consumer behaviours have significantly shifted with ecommerce growing at a faster rate. Eight months since the pandemic emerged, we’ve identified three key consumer trends to ensure you’re leveraging within your marketing strategy.
1. Short-form video is on top
Over the coronavirus lockdown, media consumption amongst Chinese consumers increased at an exponential rate. In March alone, Chinese internet users spent a record 7.3 hours online. As a result, short-form video platforms saw significant growth in users, and by June 2020 87% of the 932 million internet users in China were using short-form video apps. This has made short-form video a crucial media channel for brands to utilise when competing for consumer attention during Singles’ Day season.
Best way to use short-form video platforms?
Short-form video platforms have very different content attributes and functionalities. Platforms like Douyin and Kuaishou often require content to stay within a one-minute timeframe. Therefore, bite-sized and easily digestible content is generally the most suited. Additionally, it’s important to note that most video platforms also use algorithms to filter users into specific content categories based on what videos they engage with. So, it might be worth leveraging trending topics or categories that are relevant to your brand, to increase your reach with your target audience.
In short, if you’re using short-form content (which you should be thinking about), make sure your content strategy is optimised towards complying with the relevant requirements of the platform, as well as key user insights.
2. “See now, buy now” with livestream ecommerce
Livestream emerged in China in early 2015, beginning in the gaming industry. However, following the upgrade to 4G – and more recently 5G – in the past five years, internet speed and bandwidth no longer appears to be a barrier towards livestream viewing on the go.
Ecommerce platforms, such as Taobao, quickly seized this opportunity by launching their own livestream channel in 2016. Since then, China’s live-streaming industry has more than doubled in size with hundreds of brands and platforms now offering this service.
The rise of livestreaming in China has been attributed to the unique engagement between the stream hosts and consumers through the livestream, which provides a unique shopping experience. Livestream has therefore considerably re-shaped Chinese shopping habits – particularly during the pandemic.
Similarly to short-form video platforms, the livestream e-commerce industry also enjoyed its boom during the lockdown period and continues to maintain this momentum. By June this year, livestream ecommerce users have soared to 3.09 million and covered 32.9% of total netizens, increasing by 0.44 million since March. Not to mention, the market values in 2020 are estimated to exceed 961 million RMB. So there is no doubt that livestream ecommerce has become one of the fastest-growing digital industries in 2020.
Among all livestreaming platforms, Taobao Live is not only the pioneer of its kind, but is also dominating the industry. On Alibaba’s Singles’ Day Festival kick-off event, the ecommerce giant confirmed that live streaming will take centre stage of this year’s 11.11. Aside from dedicated sessions hosted by top professional live streamers, around 400 company executives and 300 celebrities are also set to deliver individual live streaming sessions on Taobao Live for 22 days. In addition to Alibaba, other leading platforms such as JD.com and short-form video dominators like Douyin and Kuaishou have all ramped up their efforts to keep their finger on the pulse.
Whilst brands should consider using livestream ecommerce solutions to boost their sales revenue over Singles’ Day, you should also be wary of the growing trend in fake traffic issues. It is not uncommon for livestream platforms to fake traffics metrics from followers to views, likes, engagements and even sales – with the motivation behind this to attract more potential clients. Therefore, it’s imperative to be diligent when reviewing metric data before selecting which platform or partner to use.
3. Key opinion leaders (KOL) remain pivotal
From dominating social media platforms to more recently taking over short-form video apps such as TikTok, KOLs continue to play an essential role in consumer’s decision making process. KOLs’ evergreen influence on purchasing decisions can be attributed to key values in the Chinese culture. Famous Dutch social psychologist, Geert Hofestede,shared a six dimension framework in his book, Cultures and Organisations: Software of the Mind, to help decode different national cultures. Under the Power Distance Index (PDI) dimension, countries with a higher PDI score usually emphasise authority, certification, official stamps or logos. China clearly sits among the top of the most power distant societies in the world.
Although the research was published in 1991, this cultural preference has been proven true once again in the digital era. KOL or influencers are usually experts in certain fields with large amounts of followers and strong user appeal. Chinese consumers tend to trust recommendations and prefer to engage with content from these types of authoritative third-parties over the brands themselves.
The boom of the short-form video apps and live streaming shopping, bears witness to the burgeoning of new KOLs on every new channel. Each platform also tries its best to recruit top KOLs or nurture their own influencer team to maximise attention and traffic. However, top KOLs like Li Jiaqi and Viya are also hard to obtain and expensive. Therefore, brands who plan to invest in KOL collaboration must prepare in advance a big budget for it.
Another stakeholder to bear in mind when considering the use of KOLs, is MCN (Multi-Channel Network) agencies – who connect influencers with brands and platforms. Taking Taobao Live as an example, there have been over 10,000 affiliated MCN agencies active on their daily live streaming broadcast service. More than 90% of China’s influencers have been working with or under MCNs in all sizes and capabilities. When cooperating with an MCN agency, brands should be careful with the guaranteed discounts or promotions offers, KOL fees, and sale commission rates (usually ranging from 20-30%) indicated in their contract.
Like the Black Friday and Cyber Monday in Western markets, Singles’ Day might be one of the biggest drivers for annual sales for many brands and merchants. China’s GDP improved by 4.9% in the third quarter bolstered many brands’ confidence in the coming Singles’ Day shopping festival.
Whilst this article highlights a few key trends to inform your Singles’ Day marketing strategy around, it’s important to ensure your continually keeping up with consumer behaviour shifts and adapting your brand communications to align with this in the lead up to – and throughout this crucial shopping event.
To find out more about optimising your China marketing strategy, or to speak to Croud’s China marketing team, get in touch.