How to Thrive in the Chinese Domestic Market

Elizabeth Jenkins-Smalley

Elizabeth Jenkins-Smalley

Editor In Chief at The Executive Magazine

The trade market in China is currently experiencing an economical boom, and increasing rapidly. Now is the perfect time to target the Chinese domestic market.

Marketing your products and services to Chinese customers may not be the first option you think of when it comes to expanding your business, but reaching out to this expanding market place is something everyone should be seriously considering.

China’s middle class is a booming economy, with increasing incomes and buying habits, the consumers are responsible for almost $500b worth of online retail purchases in 2017, which is a 10% increase on the previous year. The biggest exporter to see the benefits are Australia, the Chinese consumer has a particular affinity with the country, and considers it clean, authentic and green.

More than 50% of the Chinese population are online, which means over 725 million active internet users every month. This presents a massive opportunity for Western companies to capitalise on this emerging market, but many of those who have tried to break into the market have failed. This can be attributed to many factors, mainly a lack of understanding of the people and the culture.

The truth is, because the country is so huge, its impossible to market to it as a whole. China is made up of 665 individual cities, made up of 4 municipalities, 2 SARs, 293 prefectural-level cities (including the 15 sub-provincial cities) and 366 county-level cities (including the 10 sub-prefectural cities and 9 XXPC cities). This means it’s imperative to focus on specific regions and demographics, you can’t take a one campaign for all approach.

Social media marketing and mobile usage

So how do you target Chinese customers? Well if you’re looking to instant results with direct targeting, unfortunately it’s not as easy as in the UK, mainly because using Google wont work… Because it doesn’t exist in China! The main search engines are Baidu, Sogou and 360 Search, so learn as much as you can about those platforms. Because of the complex and highly context-dependent language, search engines’ algorithms work differently for example. Another consideration is how different digital platforms are suited to different cultures and technical capabilities. Similarly, Facebook isn’t available in China, they rely on social media apps such as WeChat and Weibo, but if you can crack these platforms, you’ll have a much better chance.

China’s mobile users are amongst the most powerful spenders in the World, outranking both the American and UK markets with an annual spend of nearly $120bn. Providing an exceptional mobile user experience is paramount.

Break the language barrier

Possibly the most obvious hurdle is the language barrier. Chinese customers rarely communicate in any language other than their own, so investing in a multi-lingual staff member (or team) for your organisation would be hugely advantageous. Rather than translating existing content, creating content from scratch in the native language will yield much better results. Like wise, your website should have a dedicated Chinese version, with a localised domain extension (.cn) and hosted locally. The Chinese market expect a different UX to Western websites, and understanding the difference will be crucial. Also more users are turning to mobile browsing over desktop surfing, and spend an average of 23 hours online.


The opportunity in China is substantial, and if approached strategically and with thought, penetration into the Chinese market can catapult your brand. With the rise of China’s economy and economic globalisation, all brands must have eyes on this significant opportunity. Having an experienced expert guide you through the journey can be highly beneficial to making the most of China’s search and social media offerings.

Continue reading

vote for your favourite watch brand

Select your favourite watch brand from the list below, and discover the results in the next digital edition of the magazine