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9 Ways to Increase Brand Awareness in China

Looking to sell China all about your brand and brand story?

If you’re like most foreign businesses looking to market your brand to China, you’re probably going to spend a lot of time and effort trying to figure out what are the best way to increase your brand awareness in China.

This way you can reduce the risk of spending all your money on the wrong channel and get little to no results.

Don’t worry, we completely understand. China is extremely different…

So, here are nine ways for you to increase your brand awareness and exposure in China that you don’t want to be missing out on.

You might be already doing some of these channels and tactics, and that is great. But make sure you keep reading for more and new ways to increase your brand awareness in China that you probably didn’t even know it exists.

Social Media

While there are dozens of different social media channels in China such as Douban, Renren, and Pengyou. There are only 3 that most companies should care about and they’re WeChat, Sina Weibo, and QQ.

Most foreign businesses believe that there is a Chinese localized version of every western social media platform. They believe WeChat is Facebook, Sina Weibo is twitter, and there is some magical version of Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, or Periscope. But this is simply not true.

Social media in China is pretty limited, just go around in China and ask anyone which social media platforms they’re using and it will usually boil down to WeChat, Sina Weibo, and QQ. Sure there is probably a knocked version of each type of social media platform in China, but they simply don’t have the user base to show for.

This is actually great news for a foreign brand looking to increase their brand awareness in China. You no longer have to create native content for 5 different platforms and spread out your marketing budget. In China, you can focus all your marketing budget on one or two of these social media channel and get great brand exposure.

KOL Key Influencers

You cannot really talk about social media in China without having to talk about KOL(Key Opinion Influencers). In China, key influence is called wang hong 网红”, which literally means popular on the internet.

The idea of working with “influencer” to promote your brand or product is nothing new. Celebrity endorsement has been around since the invention of the motion pictures. What has changed both in the west and the east in the past 20 years, however, is the rise of mini celebrities because of social media and the internet?

The reason why collaborating with a KOL or “网红” is a great way to increase brand exposure in China is because it is essentially similar to having a celebrity to endorse your product and sometimes KOL endorsement can be even more effective than an actual a list celebrity.

This is because KOL is niched, they’ll usually have a large audience(following) on a particular social media platform and on a particular topic or category. For example one of the biggest “网红” in China called “Mr.bags”

Video and Live Streaming

Promoting your brand through popular video or live streaming platforms in China is another great way to increase your brand exposure. I’m not talking about creating daily Vlogs, or video content although if your company happen to be talented at creating video creative then Vlogs and video contents are a great way for brand exposure.

However, an easier way is really to just pay for brand advertising videos on these platforms. Unlike YouTube where there is only one advertisement video in the beginning of any YouTube videos. In China, there are usually at least 1 minute filled with advertising videos before the actual content video even start to play.

This is partly because many Chinese brands prefer to run video advertisements for brand exposure, and all the large video platform such as Tudou and Youku want to capitalize as much as they can on the advertisement. Besides, since every platform does the exact same thing, most Chinese users are used to see a lot of advertisement anyway.

Incorporate Apps and Games

According to TechCrunch more than half of all China’s population now browses the internet using their mobile devices which make China one of the world’s leading country in mobile usage. And what better way to get the attention of these users other than app or fun and interactive game?

This is exactly what Century 21’s did in order to increase their brand exposure with the upcoming young professional home buyers who are in the age range of 24 to 34. Century 21 partnered with Ngmoco and created in game virtual Century 21 branded goods for “We City”, which is essentially a mobile version of Sin City for those of you that have played the game.

Players can create cities by adding skyscrapers, residential and commercial buildings all with Century 21 logo on them. And according to Bev Thorne who at the time was Century 21’s Chief Marketing Officer said that this virtual good campaign on We City was hugely successful with great engagement rate.

Incorporate VR and AR

If creating mobile apps or games isn’t enough for you, and you really want to take an even more adventurous route then you can look into incorporating Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality into your brand marketing campaigns in China.

While VR and AR are still extremely new technologies, it is for whatever reason is extremely popular in China. In fact, some of the larger brands have already begun to leverage these new technologies in their marketing strategy.

Coca Cola used VR during 2014 World Cup in Brazil as part of a promotion for the Coca Cola brand. Participants of this events were given branded Coco Cola Oculus Rift sets that presented them with a virtual experience of a soccer player in the World Cup.

The downside to using VR and AR as part of your brand market is that it is very expensive. There is a high to cost to developing a virtual experience and on top of that you’ll still have all the standard cost of planning and setting up the entire campaign.

Run Events

Even with half of China’s population addicted to using their smart phone and browsing the internet. The streets of many cities in China such as Shanghai, Beijing, and even many major second tier cities are actually extremely crowd.

Many brands in China see this as an opportunity to increase their brand awareness but running highly supplicated events with mascots, dancers, and other entertainers in front of major malls and other popular locations. These events are usually run during the weekends and especially throughout major Chinese holidays.

Hire Promotors

If you can’t afford to run large scale events in major locations or malls, an alternative would hire street promoters.

These street promoters are extremely common in many of the tier cities in China, you’ll see many of these street promoters around major intersections and malls handing out flyers, balloons, or are actively getting people to scan QR codes.

On the flip site if you go to larger cities such as Shanghai, or Beijing you’ll not see as many of these promoters as it is generally more expensive to hire promoters in major tier 1 cities version tier two cities.

Work with Distributors

If you don’t have a large budget to spend on brand marketing or advertising and you’re selling actual physical products such as apparels, electronics, cosmetics products, etc… Another great way to increase your brand exposure in China is actually to find and partner up with local distributors.

This way you can actually start selling your products in China without having to go through all the headache of setting up everything to market your products to China. The challenge, however, is that you’ll still have to find the reliable distributors who fit your brand and are willing to stock your products in their stores.

TV, Radio, and Billboards

Last but not least you can always turn to all the traditional brand advertising channels such as TV, Radio, and Billboards. These channels are still well and alive in China but as always, they’re expensive. However, if you’re marketing budget allows it and depending on your marketing campaign it would certainly be great if you place a TV ad.


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