China: The Future of Digital Marketing
By Fathima Shaikh Digital marketing is the future of marketing everywhere. Everywhere you go, you see a company's marketing through digital means, such as search engines, social media, email, and mobile apps. China specifically, has an online ecosystem that has been one step ahead of Western mainstream social platforms. Through the incorporation of storytelling and consistently merging things such as e-commerce with social media, Chinese social platforms are a big indicator of the direction Western social platforms will be heading in the coming years. Eric Toda, the Global Head of Social Marketing at Facebook, said that "successful marketing always tells a story." Chinese social media platforms are doing just that. Storytelling has been vital in Chinese culture for decades, and Chinese social media marketers focus on it to build brands. Multifunctional Chinese social media platforms, such as WeChat allow brands to advertise their story through video. TikTok, another popular Chinese app, is solely based on videos. Video has proven effective in delivering a message, targeting an audience, and engaging a customer. In 2019, the online short video market in China amounted to 130 billion yuan with Doyin and Kuaishou being the largest short video platforms that incorporate e-commerce marketing into video content (Thomala 2020). Over 90% of internet users consume online video content, with a 93.7% penetration rate of online video use (Thomala 2020). M-commerce is also booming in China. Chinese social media platforms take advantage of the fact that a majority of its population spends a considerable amount of time on their phone. M-commerce, or mobile commerce, is the buying and selling of goods through handheld devices. Platforms, such as the famous WeChat, combine social aspects with commercial ones, proving to be extremely beneficial to the Chinese e-commerce industry. 69% of Chinese consumers (versus 46% of US consumers) have purchased a product or service through their smartphones (Simply Mandarin). WeChat is set on becoming one of the most powerful apps in the world. Olivia Plotnick, founder of Chinese Digital Marketing Company Wai Social, says "WeChat is an app you must have if you're doing marketing in China". Wai Social helps businesses use all of WeChat's commercial aspects to their max potential. Meanwhile, western social media apps have only just begun the move towards incorporating commercial aspects.