As with many other aspects of China, advertising will require a re-thinking of strategy in order to be successful.
As of December 2020, China had 985.76 million mobile users. This is just shy of 1/5th of the world mobile phone user market. With such a high figure comes the difficulty of reaching the correct consumer within the right context and app. In the world’s most populous country it takes some critical strategic thinking to determine how best to reach your audience. It is crucial to note that China is not an overnight project. To crack China you will need to put in consistent effort across a long period of time in order to yield significant results.
One common misconception about China is that it’s a goldmine that can be exploited quickly. Whilst the market is massive and the untapped potential is very high it is not as easily obtainable as some would think. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it and there would be no space left. That being said with the right content, marketing and effort, China can be broken into and the results can be huge.
There are a number of advertising avenues that are popular for making an impact and allow the brand/user to reach their target audience effectively.
With traditional mediums in decline (newspapers, radio, etc) digital advertising has become the most effective way to reach your audience. China is very complex for a one size fit all model and as such, each artist/brand needs to identify how best to exploit the market. It is key to note that unlike western consumers who usually skip advertisements or use Ad-block software Chinese consumers will watch an ad when opening an app.
Marketing in China should always be highly personalized and individualized. Consumers want to relate to the advert. Depending on the budget a number of avenues can be taken. Social media, KOLs, collaborations, live streams, search engines and many more.
For lesser-known brands it is important to ensure your campaigns hit your target demographic as much as possible. Once you have a foothold you can begin to expand outwards. Working with established influencers, artists or companies already in China will give your brand credibility.
Many artists use platform placements to expand their fanbase and to promote key releases. It should be said this is typically only available for artists who have achieved moderate success within the market already or who are collaborating with artists of note.
Releases can be pitched for free or by paid means. Paid pitching will guarantee tracks to be placed in playlists and gain banners. This is a good way to ensure a new track from a smaller artist will be placed. Smaller artists can also use smaller platforms like Qian Qian or Mymusic as a cost-effective way to establish a fanbase as oppose to Netease or QQ.
Collaborations are one of the best ways for new artists and brands to enter the market. In terms of musical collaborations, the results from working with well known Chinese artists are almost unparalleled compared to other advertising methods. That being said it is notoriously difficult to collaborate with popular artists unless an artist already has at minimum a significant presence outside of China. Chinese artists are very much focused on achievements and numbers. They are very interested in the acts that the potential artist has worked with and all their bragging rights.
Chinese artists are attracted to stats. This is something to pay close attention to when looking for collaborations. If the brand/artist is relatively unpopular compared to the potential Chinese collaborator it will be almost impossible to work together. Instead, international artists should look for artists at a similar that hit the target market for said artist. The international client will likely have significantly less presence in China compared to the local artist. Therefore all the local artist wants is exposure outside of China. That is paramount for the domestic artist.