China Marketing Weekly: Trade War & LGBT Marketing
With Pride Month starting next week, we want to talk about the LGBTQ community in China - what the situation is and how it affects marketing. And of course, we will cover the trade war. What does it mean for international and Chinese companies and for consumers?
Also, read about how not to do WeChat giveaways, and why Jon Snow is an anti-hero of Chinese Valentine’s Day.
Taiwan has just become the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriages. The island remains divided on the issue, with some people claiming that the government betrayed their trust. - Read more (English)
What about the issue in Mainland China? Brands all over the world gain momentum with campaigns showing support for the LGBT community. However, in China, earrings worn by men are being censored as harmful to masculinity. With Pride Month starting next week, what’s the right strategy for marketing to LGBT individuals in China? Ben, our guest author, had a chance to soak in the gay community living in China and he discusses the topic on the blog.
Trade War, Huawei and Lenovo
What do you readers think of the trade war? Not much. Only 4 of you filled out last week’s poll. That’s compared to about one thousand total readers of the newsletter. Of those four, two saw the trade war affecting them negatively and two not-at-all. It’s our lowest-response poll ever!
How will Huawei weather the tech ban? It’s hard to wrap my head around the Huawei ban. Why has US actually restricted Huawei’s access to American technology? Will Huawei will be able to survive without it? Huawei phones won’t have access to Google services, which is especially bad for non-Chinese Huawei phone owners. This video explains it in a simple way. Huawei says it will release its own OS by the end of 2019, and Chinese consumer sentiment definitely seems to be on Huawei’s side.
Lenovo catches some negative attention for being willing to shift production. Lenovo is sometimes mentioned in the same sentence as Huawei, although Huawei is thought to be more Chinese while Lenovo is a China-centered multinational. Lenovo mentioned recently that they can shift some production out of China to avoid tariffs, angering some Chinese people. - Read more (English)
There’s growing room for B2B sales opportunities in China. The trade war is further slowing the already weakening Chinese economy. With slowing economic growth, some companies are looking to improve efficiencies, while other companies can provide them with the means to do so. It’s also good for us, since we have a team dedicated to B2B marketing. - Read more (English)
Game of Thrones’ finale not released due to Trade War. The episode was supposed to air in China on Monday, May 20, via Tencent Video, the official distributor in the country. Yet, due to “transmission medium problems” it still hasn’t. HBO confirmed that the episode did not air because of the ongoing trade war between China and US. - Read more (English)
Red envelopes as the best proof of love during Chinese “520” Valentine's Day. “520” is a homonym for “I love you” in Chinese and so on May 20, both WeChat Moments and Weibo were flooded with users posting the evidence of their love, best expressed with red envelopes (money!). It was best if the amount of money sent through WeChat’s hongbao was 520 CNY - so Tencent increased the transaction restriction per envelope, from the usual 200 CNY. - Read more (Chinese)
Many couples also chose the day to register their marriages - which resulted in enormous lines at the Civil Affairs Bureaus across China. - Read more (Chinese)
Finally, as May 20 was also the air date of the finale of Game of Thrones, some netizens joked “Jon Snow really gave the sincerest profession of love this May 20.”
“Why can’t I afford fruits?” is a common question on Chinese platforms lately. The price of some everyday fruits increased by 78% as compared to this time last year, based on a research done by Beijing reporters. Some prices jumped by 10% within a week, including those for apples and citrus.
Why is this so? According to Beijing Business Daily there are three major reasons. First, food consumption habits in China have changed. With the increase in people's income level and an increasing emphasis on health and wellness, the consumption of staple foods has declined and the consumption of fruits and vegetables has increased. Second, the trade war between China and the US has an impact. Some tariffs rose from 10% to 50%, and most citruses, cherries and apples are imported from United States. Thirdly, there was a sudden decline in production of several major fruit producing areas in northern China last year. - Read more (Chinese)
Rewarding users for sharing WeChat articles is not allowed. Some English-learning focused official accounts were encouraging their users to “clock in” after finishing class by sharing their article on WeChat Moments. Users were getting discounts and rewards in return, which is a violation on WeChat link sharing and marketing regulations. Just a reminder: you cannot promote this type of posts on WeChat. This includes encouragements such as, “Share our article and win a prize” etc. Your account can be permanently blocked. - Read more (Chinese)
WeChat introduces the WeChat Maker Program for Maker Faire Bay Area 2019. The goal is to “inspire creativity and innovative solutions among the global community of makers, by bringing together people who want to fully express their creativity.” It will bring together millions of content creators and allows them to use Official Accounts, Mini Programs, WeChat Pay and WeChat Work etc. - Read more (English / Chinese)
Delivery service brings together all-tier cities in China. The volume of new retail orders grew by 185% in the second half of 2018, as compared to the first half, according to the data from Fengniao delivery company. One of the fastest growing categories is medical products; the most used app for food delivery is Alibaba’s Ele.me. Overall, the number of users of real-time delivery apps in China reached 421 million.
Delivery services make the lives of millions of Chinese people more convenient, as products reach customers within 30 minutes (for real-time deliveries). They are also not limited to food orders. What’s more, Fengniao rolled out special delivery services for 3rd and 4th-tier cities for Taobao’s 618 shopping festival in June. - Read More (Chinese)
JD.com announces e-commerce platform launched on WeChat. Tencent and JD.com will release a version of the shopping platform directly in the WeChat app. The platform will be remodeled and will allow JD.com to gain better access to WeChat’s billion users. It’ll also help WeChat expand into lower-tier cities, as JD.com’s users are mostly located in 3rd to 6th tier cities. - Read more (Chinese)
Tmall will promote 1.5 million new products in different categories for the 618 shopping festival. The aim is to provide a wide range of choices for fans of different trends such as fashion, cultural, e-sports, pets, and celebrities. - Read more (Chinese)
The State Food and Drug Administration launches a cosmetics supervision app. Consumers in China will be able to check products’ information in the app, as well as confirm their registration and safety certificates. - Watch the video (in Chinese)