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Cracking the Chinese Market

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Earlier this year, Artefact UK hosted colleagues from Artefact APAC at our offices in London. Together we discussed the complexities of leveraging the Chinese and Asian markets with some of our clients. Here are our top takeaways from the discussion.


China is quickly becoming one of the largest digital players on the global stage; it has been the largest market for online retail globally since 2013 and is expected to overtake the U.S. to become the biggest digital economy in 2018. However, the digital marketing landscape in China and the APAC region is vastly different to ours. While Google is the prominent search engine in the UK and US, APAC territories have their own search engines and social channels that dominate the market. These differences mean that carving out a distinct digital strategy for this region is of utmost importance. Don’t panic though, we’ve got you covered with our top three points to consider before taking the plunge and expanding into the Chinese market.

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Pascal Duriez

CEO APAC & Strategic Committee member

The Change of the Chinese Consumer:

An easy mistake to make when looking to expand into the Chinese market, would be misinterpreting their target audience. The Chinese consumer has evolved over the last 50 years giving way to ‘The Awakened Generation’. The China of the millennium and post millennium is very different to what Western society may have previously considered. This is a generation of global citizens, native to digital, with their own opinions. They are challenging the beliefs of their parents, self-confident and socially liberal. Therefore a one size fits all approach won’t necessarily work. 

Focus on Mobile:

Making sure your website is ‘mobile friendly’ should be at the top of any brand’s agenda. However, for any companies looking to take on the Chinese market, this is a necessity. China has 731 million internet users, and 696 million of them access the internet from their mobiles; that’s 95%! In fact, in China the time spent on digital platforms accounts for more than half the total amount of time spent on media by the population. Half of the time spent on digital platforms is dedicated to social networking. The result is that, when it comes to your digital marketing, placing emphasis on mobile and social network platforms is vital for success in this economy. 

The power of e-commerce:

With a record high of 731 million internet users, is it really a surprise that China is a world champion when it comes to its e-com penetration rate? Online shopping vs total retail sales is at 22% compared to France’s 14%, Germany’s 16% and the UK’s 18%. As expected with such a mobile driven country, there has been a rapid shift to mobile shopping and growth of social eCommerce. In an economy where more people than ever are purchasing through digital platforms like WeChat, Alipay and Apple Pay, brands need to be a step ahead in managing their digital campaigns to drive sales through social platforms.

Key drivers of success:

It’s important for brands to understand the market they are wishing to enter. China does present some challenges but an equal number of exciting opportunities. Just make sure your digital strategy considers the following:

  • The new generation of Chinese consumers
  • The necessity of being mobile-centric
  • A focus on the growth of social eCommerce

With these top tips we’re sure you won’t go wrong!


To discuss how your business could benefit from our knowledge of digital marketing across the APAC region, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 or email us at for a no-obligation coffee and chat.

Francesca Penfold, Sales and Marketing Executive