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China Marketing Insights Monthly Newsletter [January 2021]


Welcome to 2021!

In this newsletter, we cover final few key insights report released towards the end. First is Douyin’s 2020 data report, next 2020 Little Red Book report on rise of Maternal & baby industry within the app.  As 2021 is getting started, we have marketing strategy from Alibaba – 2021 short video marketing strategy.

Chinese New Year is around the corner, while travel is expected to be more muted, the celebrations are expected to be as festival as ever. We share 2 insights report on marketing strategy from Alimama & domestic travel insights from Airbnb.

A new marketing initiative from McDonalds has caught our attention, you can read about it more in our China Marketing Ideas. And finally, we wrap up this newsletter with App of the month – KEEP the fitness app & how marketers are using the app for both traditional advertising & more innovative partnerships.

From all of us here at OctoPlus Media, welcome to 2021. Wishing you all a very prosperous Chinese New Year – 新年快乐, Gong Xi Fa Cai ! May the year of Ox bring abundance of joy to you & your family.


Mia C. Chen

CEO & Co-Founder of OctoPlus Media

Douyin releases its annual data report!

As of August 2020, Douyin has 600 million daily active users, and from December, the average number of daily video searches exceeded 400 million. According to the “2020 Douyin year-end Data Report”, 42,779 merchants sold over 4.1 billion yuan worth of goods on the platform in the past year and more than 5,000 craftsmen sell their works on Douyin each day.

Statistics have shown that 8.00 pm – 9.00 pm on Sundays is a peak for user-generated videos and key category of interest varies from users of different age groups:

  • Post-2000 – anime

  • Post-90s – babies and current affairs

  • Post-80s – nature and outdoors

  • Post-70s – food and weddings

  • Post-60s – dance and babies

Usage of emojis was higher by the post-70 generation compared to the post-00, the ’90s and ’80s combined. ‘Thumbs up’ emoji was most popular.

On National Day, the average daily check-in on Douyin at national attractions was over 10 times more than during the Spring Festival. Wuhan was the city with the highest number with over 8.3 billion. Beijing and Chengdu ranked second and third respectively. In the past year, previously unknown attractions attracted more visitors due to Douyin.

The 10 cities with the most visitors in the country, included those from the poorer regions – Jinzhai and Huoqiu Counties in Anhui, Xinhua County in Hunan and Southern Sichuan County which lifted them out of poverty this year.

Contact Us to discuss your China Marketing activities.


Alimama releases "Marketing Insights on Spring Festival Marketing Activities".

Due to the 2020 pandemic, the Chinese celebrated an extraordinary Spring Festival, and the same festival is fast approaching in 2021. As it signifies a new start in the Chinese culture, brands and businesses pay special during this period in boosting sales. Here are some of the insights included in the report by Alimama:

  • The marketing cycle of the Spring Festival in 2021 will be longer, and it starts a month before the festival.
  • There are more post-90s consumers, creating more diversified consumption.
  • There are three main consumption scenes, from preparation of gifts, leisure and entertainment in the initial stage, purchase of new year goods in the secondary stage, to planning of holidays at the end. The secondary stage in purchasing of new year goods is peak for consumerism.
  • In the post-pandemic era, people pay more attention to themselves and invest more for their own consumption.At the same time, gifts are usually given to family members during the Spring Festival, and consumer products are preferred. Of which an increase in pet-related products is seen.
  • Tourism has gained new popularity during Chinese New Year, post-pandemic.
  • Consumers invests more on themselves due to the anxiety caused by the pandemic. This includes self-improvement in knowledge and health.

This provides an opportunity for brands and merchants to formulate appropriate marketing plans and strategies according to their product attribution and targeted consumer groups.

Brands and merchants should formulate appropriate marketing plans based on the attributes of their products and target consumer groups, referring to the insight results.

Airbnb releases 2021 travel insights

Airbnb and Kantar, a data consulting company, jointly released 2021 China Travel Insights based on a recent survey of 1,000 Chinese travellers. Results showed that “domestic travel” continued to be a popular topic amidst the pandemic.

Longing for the countryside and country life, more than 70% of the interviewees hoped to live in the suburbs of cities or in the countryside. This has been the preferred choice since the outbreak, and this trend will continue in the coming year. Travelling to the countryside has been the main destination for families and couples. Main reasons rural tourism is preferred is the closeness to nature and for experiences such as farm stay, camping, RV, etc. It’s an opportunity to spend time with family and friends in a different environment.

It is shown in the survey that 70% of travellers consider going to a location with warmer climate to spend winter and more than half of them hoped to spend a duration of between 4 to 6 days during the Spring Festival. Those who have previously travelled abroad are more willing to spend time in warmer locations over a longer duration. Warmer southern cities such as Hainan, Lijiang and Xiamen will become popular domestic tourist destinations during the 2021 Spring Festival. In the past, people who frequently travelled abroad would pick cities suitable for family trips, such as amusement parks, and cities with special winter experiences in the north.

“Work from home” becomes working from anywhere

Due to the pandemic, more and more companies have allowed employees to work remotely, and the numbers will continue to increase in 2021. Work from home may be transformed into working anywhere. The survey shows that in China, 60% of people consider going to a new place to work and live remotely. Work-life balance, making better use of holidays or breaks during business trips, and exploring new places are the reasons why tourists choose this option of travelling and working.

Destinations with natural attractions such as Hainan and Yunnan, as well as cities with unique cuisines such as Chengdu and Chongqing, are the preferred choices for travellers who usually work in different places and go on work holidays.

Contact Us to talk more about 2021 China Travel & how we can effectively help you market to potential travellers.


2020 Xiaohongshu Maternal and Child Industry Report

When we think of Xiaohongshu or Little Red Book, we immediately associate beauty & skincare product on the platform. This has created a lot of stereotypes and XHS is actively promoting other content ecology, especially maternal & infant, fashion, apparel, culture & tourism. This new report details the rapid increase in mother & baby category.

Mother and child brand’s main products include complimentary food machine, radiation-proof clothing, baby cart, safety seats and so on. Although the unit price of these mother and child products is higher, they are all very popular. In addition, the most attention paid to the sub-categories of the maternal and infant industry is the parenting experience and maternity experience. However, in terms of the product concept and planting content, it is mainly based on the starting point of the maternal and infant population for the child’s good intentions.

Mother&Child Livestreaming stats:

  1. >27% – click rate of maternal and infant products is over 10%

  2. >53% – user interaction rate in the live room is over 10%

  3. 11% – unit price of maternal and infant products is more than 500 yuan

  4. 79% – the volume of goods brought by maternal and child experts

In the ranking of Xiaohongshu maternal and child brands, the amount of interaction between domestic and foreign brands is comparable, but in the top 10, foreign brands account for 60%. It is obvious that foreign brands pay more attention to Xiaohongshu than domestic brands.

McDonald's China replaces Mascot with "Happy Sister"

McDonald’s recently launched a new two-dimensional image: Happy Sister. The image of Happy Sister is closer to the style of the popular two-dimensional idols on the Internet, and through a voting process of the nickname, it hopes to gain the attention of the younger generation.

Anyone can interact with Happy Sister on their mini program. It is prominently placed on the entrance to “Happy Little Members” – a section dedicated to providing services for children, including preparing birthday parties, displaying current toys, and displaying McDonald’s children-related activities. Therefore, it is not difficult to see that the image of Happy Sister is mainly aimed at younger audiences, and the focus is to provide companionship and happiness.

Key menu items:

Dancing function – the applet provides interaction between the user and virtual player, performing dance simulation, uploading of scores after recording, and enabling easy sharing. This encourages users to share and immediately promote the image of Happy Sister.

Story function – In the story menu, McDonald’s currently provides two popular science stories, which are presented in the form of audiobooks. The stories are used to attract children and the health science popularization caters to the needs of parents. This gradually blurs the common perception of McDonald’s image equating to fast food and unhealthy eating. In addition to audiobooks, interactive content is also added. Users are able to create their own stories in the menu, save and upload them.

Changing demographics

When it first entered the Chinese market, McDonald’s was sought after by young consumers. With changes in economic levels and concepts, McDonald’s has gradually become a fast food choice for adults, while its status among young consumers and even children has declined. , It’s not difficult to see that the image of Happy Sister was launched to capture the large and potential consumer group of young consumers. Unlike the previous cartoon image design combined with meals, this new brand image works as a physical restaurant. The virtual image of personnel emphasizes companionship and service, which can better cater to the needs of the younger generation.

Starting with young consumers and infiltrating the brand image into the young people’s culture is not only to stimulate more current consumption but also to cultivate the main consumer group in the future to become the “feelings” of a generation.

Long term business value

If McDonald’s can successfully make Happy Sister as a brand image born this time as a self-designed virtual image, it can not only save the high cost of inviting spokespersons but also can use this virtual image to create more additional income. Taking Luo Tianyi as an example, the commercial value created by the two-dimensional idols is very impressive, but whether the business model of virtual idols can be successfully replicated remains a question to be seen.

But from the long-term development perspective, the image of McDonald’s Happy Sister is undoubtedly an attempt by the brand based on the market to maintain its brand vitality through innovation. Whether this marketing method can successfully establish a new brand image and drive new consumption depends on the follow-up and long-term operation.

Alimama releases "5i Rule" 2021 - The Strongest Short Video Marketing Strategy

To help platform merchants and short video creators to better adapt to changes in short video marketing and accurately grasp opportunities, Alimama collaborated with Taobao short video and Tmall beauty industry to jointly launch a Taobao short video marketing effect evaluation system. As Taobao mobile gains popularity, so are the short videos on the platform. Short videos have become an important mode of communication between e-commerce and consumers. As enthusiasm increases, merchants/short video creators continue to rise too.

Short videos can not only show the selling points of products in a dynamic form but also create an atmosphere for merchants and video producers, thereby increasing the sales rate. The video editing rhythm is the key to short videos.

  • The first 3 seconds is critical in capturing the attention of the audience. The video should have a clear theme with eye-catching content in achieving the best viewing experience.

  • The 9th second is the optimal point in conveying the intended message of the video for best effect and call to action.

  • At the 16th second mark of the video, audience interest is further enhanced. At this point, higher-quality content can be used for retention and acquisition of the fan base.

The short video marketing strategy report also touches on the 5i rule of communication on content and form of short video production to increase its value;

  1. Interestingness (Eye-catching)

  2. Informative

  3. Interflow (Clarity of communication)

  4. Internalization

  5. Identity

Therefore, e-commerce businesses should use topics such as comedy, imitation, etc., with interesting plots and interactions for increased brand recall rate and engagement. Educational and informative short video content such as tutorials, strategies, guides, etc., are of high value. Improving the efficiency of short video marketing is key in promoting the success of e-commerce in a multi-faceted consumer landscape.

Contact Us for a full report and how to effectively advertise in China.

App of the month - KEEP

Keep is a mobile fitness app launched in February 2015. Keep provides fitness teaching, running, cycling, dating and fitness diet guidance, equipment purchases, and more, providing one-stop exercise solutions.

Key statistics:

  1. Women make up 58% of users, and women prefer to lose weight, while men are keen to gain muscle

  2. 76% of users under 30 years of age

  3. First- and second-tier city users accounted for up to 60%

  4. User training time: 30 minutes/day

  5. Frequency of training per person per week: 4.64 times

  6. Community Premium KOL: 1,500 people

Common forms of advertising


Other Marketing partnerships

  • Brand Shining Day and Course Videos

For the brand to build a “sport and product” use scenario, through high sports relevance of brand video content, reasonable and soft implant training courses before and after, to sports empower the brand, deepen user awareness and enhance brand taste and product preferences, and combined with brand and product characteristics, select different courses for delivery。

  • Moment of sound (voice product)

Embed brand content within the fitness training scene for mass work outs. This helps to focus the brand information & deepen brand memory.

  • Event Marketing

Through Keep’s hot events and exclusive IP content, users are engaged to maximize the focus on the brand marketing activities of high exposure and depth of integration of brand products, concepts, value.

  • Celebrity Marketing

Use the star effect to maximize brand value, build and deepen the brand spokesman’s sports people, according to the star’s sports ability and sports preferences, tailor-made professional sports training courses or lecture content, brand information multi-dimensional implant exposure, to ensure the transformation of high-value fan resources.

  • Marketing via Training Course

According to the brand needs and product characteristics, tailor-made private courses, the concept of brand sports health, deepen product memory。

  • Social Content Marketing

Connect brands and users through topic interactions, deliver product ideas, encourage user engagement, and accumulate premium UGC content.

Contact Us to discuss the entire spectrum of potential partnership opportunities with KEEP!

– End of the Newsletter –

A Joint Collaborative Initiative By OctoPlus Media & China Trading Desk

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