China Marketing Weekly: How The Latest WeChat Update May Affect Your Brand

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 18:00


This week we talk more about the recently despised WeChat update to official accounts (and how it affects brands); also, Chinese netizens mocking Western social media challenges and the troubles foreign companies encounter when planning Chinese marketing.

Dig in!



WeChat updates its subscription account display - to everyone’s discontent. The subscriptions were listed in a separate folder where all their articles are displayed. However, the latest iOS update changed that; subscriptions’ news feeds will now resemble those of Twitter and Facebook, listing the most popular updates on top - and displaying up to two articles per account. Updates coming from “frequented accounts” are displayed in a “big picture+text” format. The others are less visible. On Android, this feature is in a testing phase. - Read more (Chinese)

For brands, it means declined visibility as their articles will now be easier to miss. For users, it means more scrolling and complaints as it’s not in line with their reading habits. Following the dismay, many users hoped the latest update would be redacted - many contradicting sources have been recently published, but it seems the change is real and happening.

- Sesia


The number of elderly WeChat users (ages 55 to 70) increases to 61 million. Their daily in-app activity went up 22% compared to last year. However, their habits are different from younger users. For the elderly, WeChat is a tool to pay, send red envelopes, and voice and video call friends and family members. So, it’s not “social media” per se. - Read more (Chinese)
- Cherry


NMG’s Insights

The issue we’ve bumped into quite a few times is underestimating time requirements to start Chinese marketing campaigns. People say to us: “We want to start in two months” but even three months later and the campaign is still preparing launch.

First, the list of various industry requirements grows every year - platforms often require companies to submit Chinese permits (e.g. food safety, etc.). Also, those responsible for the campaign often struggle obtaining docs for bank accounts or even business licenses from accounting. The more company departments involved, the higher the probability of the process dragging out. Obtaining required docs, updating websites, sharing Google Analytics access, etc. should only take a few days but ends up taking weeks.

Second, it’s more complicated for e-commerce businesses launching physical products onto the Chinese market. More docs- more complications. So, don’t start your digital campaign too early! Otherwise, you’ll exhaust content to publish while your products are still far from launch-ready; the customers won’t wait for new products forever!
- Wiki



Cross-brand clothing collections revive childhood memories for Chinese Millennials. Iconic red milk boxes by Wang Wang and their brainwashing TV commercials were an essential part of growing up in 80s and 90s. However, their popularity recently declined in the face of both foreign and domestic competition. So, Wang Wang decided to appeal to Millennials’ nostalgia and launched a clothing collection in collaboration with TYAKASHA, an independent Shanghainese brand. - Read more (Chinese)

We say a loud YES to cross-brand promotions and limited collections in China, especially the ones with a (recently popular) 90s vibe.

- Sissi


#FallingStars social media challenge fires up Chinese users’ creativity. The challenge that originated on Russian Instagram reached China as well. Same as Western countries, it’s a way to showcase wealth. But soon it escalated and Chinese social media users made it a creative battle (#中国炫富挑战#) to mock the wealth. - Check more pictures here

- Nara


Chinese Consumers

The Chinese middle class is growing- they spend more but also fear what the future will bring. The Chinese government seems to take their spending power for granted and treats it as a solution to the slowing economy and any other problem that occurs. Simultaneously, Chinese people are more educated and have better access to outside information. However, small businesses lose against corporate giants, real estate prices are skyrocketing, and their online freedom is vanishing. Now, the trade war has also begun troubling them. - Read more about middle class in China and the change of social climate (both in English)
- Wiki


Chinese bring racism back to Africa. The Chinese government and companies heavily invest in the development of African countries, therefore a lot of Chinese employees are relocating. They don’t like assimilating with the locals, often call them “monkeys” and treat them like animals, and have become unwelcome. “They are the ones with the capital, but as much as we want their money, we don’t want them to treat us like we are not human in our own country.” - Read more (in English)
- Wiki



Chinese apps are catching up to international competitors. Video-streaming apps like Tencent Video or iQiyi are listed right below giants like Netflix in revenue. At the same time, short-video social app Douyin surpassed Instagram in the top 10 most downloaded apps rank. - Read more (Chinese)

- Kevin


NetEase’s popular news feature, Gentie (跟贴), upgraded to “Talk” (讲讲) after 15 years in service. Gentie was one of the first places allowing Chinese netizens to comment on currents affairs, add- or even rewrite news stories. However, as the news volume grew into over 4 mln pieces a day, NetEase decided to alter community rules. “Talk” will use modern algorithms to link users into social circles interested in similar topics allowing them to discuss and share news. They intend to grow “Talk” into a social platform similar to Weibo, but with 15-years’ worth of community, one of the longest standing in China bringing together older and younger generations. - Read More (Chinese)
- Phoebe


Join Us

We’re looking for a lot of help writing educational content for our blog and websites- if you’re interested, let us know! No need to be a pro marketer- we have plenty at your disposal.

Requirements: ability to research, plan/outline, and write content. You’ll also need fluency in English and keen interest in China. As for style of work: it could be part-time, full-time or just once-in-a-while!

This is also a foot-in-the-door opportunity for aspiring Westerners to get out of the English-teaching game and into marketing. It can lead to two other roles - Account Manager or Marketing Consultant (sales), or you can leverage it as experience to move to another company later.
- Tait




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