5 China Fitness and Wellness Digital Marketing Trends You Don’t Want Miss in 2019

According to a Statista forecast, this year alone China will have 615.5 millions social media users, which is more than US, UK and Russian population combined. This number is projected to reach 725 million by 2022. China’s unique and continually evolving digital ecosystem creates exciting opportunities for health and fitness brands. Here at Tiger Social, we predict these 5 China's digital marketing trends will become critical strategies fitness and wellness brands and marketers can’t afford to miss.

1. KOLs ( Key Opinion Leader )

As an increasing number of health and sport supplement brands enter the Chinese market, Chinese consumers will become overwhelmed with too many choices. More than ever, they will rely on information and recommendations from their friends and family, personal trainers and more importantly online KOLs they follow. The difference in social media platforms and shopping culture creates Chinese consumers’ unique decision-making process. This is explained well in the diagram below from Boston Consulting Group.

As you can see, KOLs play an important role in converting brand exposure to sales. Cosmetic and fashion brands have seen success with KOLs collaboration. For fitness and health brands, Chinese consumers have limited knowledge and information on nutritional supplements as well as their benefits. Trustworthy KOLs can not only help to recommend products but educate consumers.

In 2019, as more brands approach top fitness influencers and internet celebrities for sponsorship collaboration, it will become more expensive to launch a KOL integrated marketing campaign. However, KOL collaborations will help to expedite market penetration and brands will find quicker short-term success. For brands that have already established distribution or online sales channel in China, investing in sponsored ad and KOLs will help your brand expand to different consumer base which hasn't been reached nor serviced before.

2.Short video marketing - Douyin leading short video platforms

The use of short video apps is booming in China. Among many platforms, Douyin, known as Tik Tok outside China, is leading the category. By the end of 2018, there will be 353 million of short video viewers. Marketers and brands in the in United States have come up with strategies to create short video content tailored to Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin platforms. When it comes to reaching and engaging with Chinese consumers, integrating short videos into your brand’s holistic marketing plan early on will give your brand a competitive edge. Sport and fitness brands have an intrinsic advantage using videos to market their products and services, since it is a visual industry. If your brand has tons of long-form video content on your website or Youtube channels, a time-and cost-efficient solution is to invest in resources and services to convert the long-form video content to shorter clips tailored to Chinese platforms. Chinese consumers look up to American and European athletics and fitness professionals, their training videos, nutrition tips, and product recommendations are perceived as credible and trustworthy

In a recent news, Douyin’s parent company Bytedance is valued more than 75 billion dollars, surpassing Uber to be the most valuable startup in the world. In 2019, Short video will be the trend marketers and brands can’t afford to ignore

3. Social Shopping (Social media and E-commerce integration )

Though many Chinese eCommerce and social media companies start with emulating popular tech startups like eBay, Facebook and Youtube, China’s unique internet ecosystem and competition environment push companies to create innovative business models and highly consumer-focused services. Pinduoduo is the latest eCommerce player to take the internet by storm with its unique “social shopping” model. The apps allows customers to get aggressive deals by rounding up a certain number of friends on their social media network. There are some similarities with Groupon’s business model, but its seamless integration with the WeChat social media ecosystem gives it an unique advantage in maximizing consumer engagement. Following Pinduoduo’s success, Taobao launched its own app aimed at selling bulk goods at aggressive prices, Taobao Tejiaban.

If your brand is already working with Taobao or other online distributors, establishing WeChat official accounts and utilizing its mini programs will not only help to engage with more consumers but efficiently convert them to sales.

4. AI + Marketing

Since 2012, the Chinese government has launched policies supporting and encouraging the development of AI ( Artificial Intelligence ) applications across different industries. Many AI technologies are already embedded into the fabric of Chinese people’s everyday life. For example,Toutiao, a news and information content platform powered by Artificial Intelligence, enables super personalized content recommendation by tracking user’s taps, swipes, time spent on each articles, comments, pauses and locations.

AI technology application in marketing is still in its early stages, but China’s supportive policy environment and the huge amount of data created by its pervasive social media and eCommerce platforms, are pushing for aggressive applications in marketing even ahead of what is in the United States. It’s imperative for brands and marketers to take note and look out for strategies, technologies and platforms they can utilize. According to iResearch, AI will be gradually involved in all aspects of digital marketing from user Insights, strategy forming, idea generation, intelligent ad placement, effect analysis as well as retargeting.

5. Content Still Rules

The fitness and wellness industry is still in its early stage and Chinese mass consumers are not educated and familiar with nutritional values of health and sport supplements. Even for functional food brands, there is still a learning curve for Chinese consumers to catch up with the trends. High quality, informative and creative content will help your brand build trust with Chinese consumers. Visuals, stories, pictures and videos are effective medium to tell your brand's story and connect with the emotions of customers. Brands and marketers can focus on creating content that is educational, inspirational and instructional. Regardless of the platforms, technology advancement, or KOL’s influence, quality content cannot be overlooked. As brands and markets develop a holistic marketing strategy in China, content should be the core component synthesizing SEO, social media marketing and influencer campaigns.

Tiger Social specializes in Chinese digital marketing solutions for fitness and health industry. We are the missing puzzle piece of your China market strategy. For a free consultation, please email info@tigersocialchina.com