Understand How to Market in China

5 Jan 2024

Understand How to Market in China

Before entering the Chinese market as a foreign business requires extensive research and planning. Aside from understanding the demography, cultural differences are crucial. Companies need to understand the relevant legalities and where and how the brands’ products and services fit into the Chinese market. 
Trademarking is highly prioritized as the country follows the first-to-file law. The first to file a trademark with the China Trade Mark Office has the right to sell goods under that trademark. The filling is relatively easy and inexpensive to do. These products are sold by importers returning to China from the West to sell at a similar price point. Historically, local business merchants have blocked Western brands from accessing the market by banking on the foreign brand’s popularity for a sizable profit. Unfortunately, this has diminished the ability to control the brand’s experience for consumers. 
Ensuring there is a market for the brand’s products and services is exceptionally relevant. It will indicate the brand’s success and drive revenue. In addition, performing a market data analysis on the competitors will save a foreign business’s time and money and clarify where the brand’s products or services lie in the market entry. 

Expansion into China differs profoundly compared to other Asian countries. Firstly, the Chinese technological landscape is protected by the ‘Great Firewall’; this wall hinders the use of many popular systems and business tools used by foreign brands such as Google Suite and Salesforce. Secondly, there are multiple complexities involved with advertising, logistics, shipping, and taxes.

Finding ways around the Great Firewall in China has proven to be a challenge for many foreign businesses. The Great Firewall regulates the domestic internet landscape, both legally and technically, allowing the government to control content and slow down cross-border internet traffic. The government has blocked access to selected websites preventing the average Chinese consumer from accessing sites such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and many more. 
For brands to expand into the Chinese e-commerce landscape, brands must host a website in China. However, website traffic can’t simply allow users from the West and China to access it as it will greatly slow down the site and impact consumers’ ordering experience. 
Many Chinese brands have benefited from The Great Firewall, allowing China to grow its Internet giants. To name a few that have thrived off the country’s trade protectionism – Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu, JD.com, and many more. Should a foreign decide to expand into China, they must abide by their rules. A business will have to adjust its SEO towards Baidu instead of Google. The social media advertising will need to be changed to WeChat instead of Facebook and Instagram. The company’s e-commerce platform will have to be JD.com and TMall instead of Amazon. 
As Google analytics are not available in China, brands must rely on other analytical tools, such as Chinalytics. Chinalytics is the leading IT solution available in the Chinese market, and it allows brands to measure, analyze and act on the brand’s China data
How can a company host a website in China?
Before penetrating the Chinese e-commerce market, it is critical to understand that selling to China works better when it sells within China, which means that creating a .cn website allows for faster loading times than websites operated outside of the .cn in comparison to the .com. Furthermore, the domain builds a level of familiarity with Chinese consumers. 
Additionally, brands that want to reach and resonate with the local consumers must dive deeper in optimizing the websites for the audience. Simply copying and pasting translations will not work. It must be appealing to the consumer’s preferences, cultural, and functional expectations; this also includes customized colors, font styles, images, symbols, date/time formats, measurements, and contact information.
How can a company host a website in China
What are the benefits of a .CN website?
What are the benefits of a .CN website
To simply put it . Local domains inside The Great Firewall give businesses leverage to communicate to their customers to which they are accustomed. CN is more favorable within the wall as the websites load faster and retains customers than websites hosted outside the firewall. 
To acquire a .CN, brands need to ensure the credibility and authenticity of the business, as the government sets strict regulations to reduce cybersquatting and other digital abuse. 
Furthermore, an ICP license is required to host a website inside China. ICP is a state-issued registration number companies should apply for when thinking to host within the Chinese digital world; otherwise, hosting the business’s site will be denied. 
When applying for the ICP, companies must provide identification and commercial license documentations in Chinese and fall under the country’s bureaucratic process. Therefore, hiring a Chinese partner will greatly benefit western companies, as the partner will eliminate the confusion. 


Baidu is China’s leading search engine; it is the equivalent of Google to the West. It is estimated that Baidu has more than two-thirds of all web traffic in China; it accounts for 76% of its search engine market and is ranked 4th globally according to Alexa Internet rankings with Google, Facebook, and YouTube.

After foreign businesses have set up their Chinese domain, they will have to register to Baidu. Building an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy with Baidu is a sure way to maximize exposure to customers and to view the business’s search ranking. However, running ad campaigns on this search engine can be rather complex to develop and deploy. It can be rejected without any assistance to help with the administrative process.

There are four tips when it comes to running a successful campaign on Baidu:
  • Localization – Although China’s consumption patterns may be similar to the Western markets, brands still need to resonate with the Chinese market. Product and service offerings need to be tweaked and optimized for Chinese audiences. Translations are not enough to drive conversions and connections. Therefore, ads and websites need to be interpreted by a native speaker who understands the nuances of the language to engage the Chinese consumers. Hiring a local partner will benefit the business with its PPC campaigns, keywords research, A/B testing, copywriting, and much more.
  • 24/7 customer service – It is a vital part of Chinese consumers’ shopping experiences. Brands that want to convert window shoppers to repeat customers need to engage in real-time conversations, and these real-time chat capabilities need to be embedded on the websites and e-commerce stores. This function will allow businesses to build a rapport with their customers. Brands also should not miss the chance to build brand loyalty with their Chinese consumers, which goes much further than in the West.
  • Emphasize the nature of the brand’s products – Brands need to emphasize how their items are different from what the Chinese consumers usually purchase. The messaging and product mix needs to be localized for the Chinese market.
  • Campaign optimization – Baidu PPC doesn’t integrate with Google Analytics inside the Great Firewall. Fortunately, Chinalytics gives businesses the correct insights to leverage off their business decisions. Combining Baidu PPC ads with Chinalytics will help provide detailed data flow, click-tracking, and much more.


WeChat is the country’s leading social media network, an all-in-one digital platform for Chinese consumers and businesses alike. It would greatly benefit brands to register and advertise on this platform. However, several steps are required for brands to set up a corporate account that includes business licenses, product approvals, and more; the process can be time-consuming and perplexing for certain businesses unfamiliar with the Chinese technological landscape.
WeChat corporate account has two types of accounts available: subscription and service. Extensive research needs to be made before deciding on the account, as there is no opportunity to switch after registration.
Subscription accounts give potential consumers the ability to subscribe to the page and follow the business’s WeChat updates. This is ideal for brands looking to publish content. However, it is very limited in capabilities. For example, brands can publish one content per day with no push notification – this doesn’t allow brands to connect with their following. 
Service accounts have more features, including interactive menus and electronic payment options enabling direct purchase power. Brands can leverage off this direct contact with their consumers. Unfortunately, the downside to this type of account is that it only allows four posts per month
We Chat Xiaohongshu : Redbook

Xiaohongshu / Redbook

Redbook  is the latest social media platform for companies as it brings together elements of e-commerce, user-generated content, and product reviews. It features photos, text, and short videos produced towards the lifestyle and trends. The majority of its registered users (70%) are born after 1999 – this is the preferred marketplace of Gen Z. 

This ‘lifestyle’ community platform boasts over 350 million registered users. In 2020, Redbook  was valued at US$3 billion after a US$300 million investment by the Alibaba Group. 

Lifestyle Community

Brands should consider leveraging off Redbook, and here are some reasons why: 


  • Lifestyle Community – According to a survey of consumers by the McKinsey group indicates that 64% of the respondents considered the word of mouth review when shopping. The platform’s feature enables users to add ‘shopping notes’ to their content; this includes text, photos, and short videos that either persuade or dissuade other users from a product.
  • KOLs – Rebook has been a favorite for Chinese celebrities, along with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders); their presence adds a level of authenticity.
  • Friendly to foreign brands – The platform allows consumers to purchase overseas products directly through the app. The platform’s openness to foreign brands is attractive and has enabled strategic partnerships with foreign brands such as Lancome, Swisse, and Innisfree.
  • Niche audience – with a platform where most of its audience are females (90% of its user base) and a focus on ‘lifestyle’ might be what some businesses need.
  • Cost – The cost of a Redbook is rather expensive. The prices of a brand account require an upfront deposit of 100,000 THB with a monthly fee ranging between 45,000 THB –  280,000 THB. Additional fees and costs also add up for ad spend and KOL engagement fees.
Market in China

Thank you for exploring our content. We aim to provide valuable insights into the Chinese market to aid your decision-making and support your business at every step.

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