Is change the biggest change impacting brands in China?

UMS CEO Jessica Miao reflects on the biggest change in China’s digital marketing landscape.


This week I was asked to present as part of a Digital Marketing Insights event co-hosted by the Chambers of Commerce of Australia, Britain, Canada, Switzerland and Benelux. The event featured Chinese marketing leaders discussing the opportunities for marketers to engage with Chinese consumers.


One of the questions posed to me was to share my thoughts on “one major change” that I believe has happened recently in digital marketing in China.  I thought I would share my response.


While I have witnessed a number of significant trends in recent times in China, such as:  Mobile, Short Video and Social Commerce, all of which have exploded in the China market in recent times, there is one major change I feel eclipses all of these trends. And that is change, itself.


Change in China is a constant. Everyone will tell you that nothing moves as fast as it does in China. A brand can launch, explode, go mass market and subsequently disappear within months.



A great example of this is Mobike and the share-bike trend. Just 12 months ago it was virtually impossible to move in China without tripping over one of Mobike’s bright orange coloured bicycles. The brand was rolling bicycles into cities across China and around the world. The trend was huge, the market was fiercely competitive and everyone was talking about the brand.


Now, one year later, the share-bike trend has relaxed back to an occasional convenience. Consumers have largely returned to their own bicycles, taxis, buses, trains. As for Mobike, the company has been acquired by Meituan.


It’s a perfect illustration for how quickly the market changes and how fickle the Chinese consumer is towards change. It is a constant and the unrelenting pace means consumers do not waste time pondering the past, it is all about the present.


So, what does this mean for brands?

  1. It is crucial to always keep up-to-date with the new trends and behaviours being adopted by your target audience
  2. Prepare your business structure to make quick decisions and respond faster to changes in the market
  3. Invest in running test and learn programmes to try new ideas and gain insights
  4. Remember the 4Cs: Community, Content, Channels & Commerce. To build a successful brand in China, you need to create and maintain a community of consumers who are interested in your brand and your products. You must create compelling or entertaining content to help build trust, loyalty and engagement with the community. You must select the right channels to reach your target audience, and you must create seamless pathways to commerce platforms, in order to convert the community into sales.