China Marketing Blog

China Marketing Weekly: Do Short-Video Apps And E-Commerce Go Together?

Wiktoria Marszałek — Fri, 01/04/2019 - 18:00


It’s good to see you all in the new year! We hope those of you who celebrated had a wonderful holiday- and now back to China Marketing trends ;-)

Do you know how we always bring up Chinese super-apps that are becoming more and more “one ring to rule them all”? Douyin and Kuaishou, China’s most popular short-video apps, are now taking steps to roll out e-commerce features. But even the “one ring” was feared to be a weapon in the wrong hands… do you feel there should be a limit to what a single app is capable of? Let us know your thoughts!

What else? Last week we said the new e-commerce law will affect daigou’s - people who purchase abroad and sell to Mainland customers. It actually happened, but the daigou’s are not giving up yet!

We also talk about WeChat marketing trends for 2019, recent Chinese social media discussions, and mobile-friendly TV series that are shot vertically!

Ps. If you missed any of our newsletters because of the holidays - no worries. You can always catch up here.



Daigou’s attemp to trick WeChat’s system as new e-commerce laws activate. As of January 1, 2019 it is illegal for daigou’s to purchase products overseas and sell them in China without registered companies both in China and abroad. The most popular channel for the exchanges were WeChat Moments. As daigou’s refuse to give up the lucrative business, WeChat Moments were flooded with hand-drawn pictures of products, and a mix of English, Chinese and pinyin descriptions to avoid WeChat’s system detection. - See more pictures

- Sesia


Kuaishou enables e-commerce accounts that link directly to Taobao and Youzan. The short-video platform’s goal is to provide vendors with content marketing and e-commerce support. After joining the program, merchants will be able to get professional operational advice, such as account growth trends analysis and detailed tracking traffic data. According to the report from August 2018, 48% of the users bring direct transactions of Kuaishou’s vendors, which takes 56% of the vendors’ overall transactions - their average revenue per video was over 1,000 CNY ($146USD).

In October 2018, Kuaishou ranked first on the list of China’s short videos app, with over 2.4 billion active users, overrunning Douyin. - Read more (Chinese)

- Olivia


Douyin loosens account verification process for merchants. Just as Kuaishou, the platform plans on opening an e-commerce feature in the app. So far, accounts willing to turn “official” (a yellow “v” mark) needed to go through a strict verification process which was only possible as long as they had over 10,000 followers. As a part of testing for e-commerce, between Dec 28 and January 5, Douyin rolled out an event allowing all merchants to skip the verification process - the only requirement was owning a store.

The official account allows account tracking and collection of follower data. The platform’s goal for now is seeing how many accounts have a potential of “bringing products”, which in their opinion often equals creating lots of high-quality content. - Read more (Chinese)
- Olivia


Chinese Consumers

iQiyi introduces first vertical short TV series fitting in Chinese viewing habits. It’s no surprise as it’s been discussed for ages now: Chinese people spend most of their time online via their smartphones. They’ve fallen in love with short videos that can kill their spare time- but aren’t too engaging. So, iQiyi rolled out a TV series that resembles short videos: the episodes are 3 to 4 minutes long and are shot vertically so it’s easier to watch on a smartphone. - Read more (Chinese)

In China, basically everything is mobile-friendly now, including visual content and e-shops that are based on stand-alone apps or mini-programs. It’s easier to watch, and most important: easier to share on social media.
And somewhere out there we still see so many foreign companies trying to promote a non-responsive website...
- Sissi


Running becomes a new obsession in China. It first started as a new recreation activity that the rising Chinese middle class explored, but it’s become more about connecting. There are plenty of sports apps with pedometers that can be easily shared on social media - it wouldn’t be a social hobby if you couldn’t compare your results with your friends, right?

Moreover, in 2017 there were around 800 road races organised in China. The number is expected to grow to 1,500 to 2,000 this year. - Read more (English)
- Wiki


Marketing Strategy

Luckin Coffee loses over 100 million USD in 2018, yet keeps pushing expansion. According to the company’s CMO, “what they want at the moment is scale and speed” and “there’s no point talking about profit”. Luckin Coffee’s goal is to open over 4,500 stores by the end of 2019, trying to catch up on Starbucks’ plan to open 6,000 stores in China by 2022. - Read more (English)

Luckin Coffee started their aggressive marketing campaign last year, giving out free or almost-free coffee for a year now. They want to teach Chinese society the coffee drinking lifestyle. But my own observation is that people stick with whatever is cheaper - local coffee stores offer great discounts too (our TMs rarely pay more than 2 USD, delivery included), so what happens when Luckin stops handing out the money?

Here are our posts on Luckin and Starbucks’ marketing strategy in China.
- Wiki


Building a WeChat mini-program marketing strategy as a top trend for 2019. Last year, the mini-programs gained a lot of attention with most big brands starting their own (as a mini-store, membership program or a mini-game etc.). Not only WeChat, but Alipay and Douyin rolled out their own mini-programs.

Other trends for 2019 are launching WeChat brand zones that pop up in the WeChat search engine (similar to SEM) and taking advantage of Tencent ads’ upgraded targeting option. - Read more (English)
- Wiki



Hot-pot restaurant advertises for “Ivy League” waiters sparking discussion on Weibo. The restaurant named “985 Hotpot College” (985火锅学院) posted a job ad with an interesting requirement: a degree from a “985” university (this refers to China’s top universities such as Beijing University or Tsinghua). Some netizens say it was just a way of creating online hype as it’s a new restaurant. But the company says they offer a good salary and asks why they’re being criticised for having high standards. - Read more (English)
- Wiki



The Chinese travel to over 978 domestic and overseas destinations for New Year, according to the 2019 New Year’s Day Tourism Consumption report. They travelled to 96 countries and regions, which is a 45% increase compared to the previous year. In terms of outbound travel, the top ten most popular destinations are Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, the Philippines, the United States, and Indonesia. - Read more (Chinese)
- Shirley


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