China is surely a big market that seems full of business potentials. But if you are an unknown foreign brand for Chinese consumers, then the game is almost over. Chinese buying behavior is heavily influenced by peer opinions and product reputation, therefore “marketing” (demand and awareness generation) in China is vital, where you need to create your brand image, build brand validation, and afterwards grow sales.
While there is no Google, Facebook, YouTube and other marketing tools that are known by the Western world, online marketing in China is similar in methods yet different in channels. Wechat as the current dominate social networking app or Key Opinion Leaders (KOL e.g. bloggers on Weibo) are influential to use to promote brands.
If you are on Alibaba’s marketplace like Tmall Global (where international brands supply the products from outside China), you should also know they offer a variety of on-platform marketing options.
ZTC (Zhi Tong Che) – a toolset like Google’s AdWords, provided by Alibaba’s marketing arm – Alimama. ZTC allows marketers to bid on clicks of keywords in search results.
Diamond (Zuan Shi Zhan Wei) – another Alimama system allowing brands to serve advertising banners across Alibaba’s network. Banners can be served on a variety of pages including the home pages of Tmall Global.
Taobao Ke (TBK) – Alibaba advertising platform based around an affiliation system. TBK draws customers outside of the Alibaba network and is better known as affiliate marketing.