April 8, 2022

How marketing on Chinese social channels helps Western brands boost their Tmall sales

By Ronald Wu / Tmall, Asia, Global Ecommerce

Having 100 million active shoppers on the platform, Tmall Global, the cross-border section of China’s largest online marketplace, is filled with abundant opportunities but also stiff competition. In 2021, more than 5,000 new overseas brands have launched on the platform, while more than 2,000 small- and medium-sized businesses achieved annual sales of over RMB 1 million.

To understand and create benchmarks for best practices on Tmall Global, we analysed 40 consumer brands selling on the platform from the Baby, Beauty, and Vitamins & Supplements categories in our Tmall Global Benchmarking Report. The brands were assessed against a set of criteria that measures how well their Tmall Flagship store and top three product listings performed.

Following an introduction on how to refine your brand’s Tmall Flagship store to recruit and retain Chinese online shoppers, this time we examine how Western brands’ marketing effort on Chinese social channels help to boost their sales on Tmall Global.

Why social channels are essential for selling in China

While Tmall has done a great job of expanding the range of marketing types within its platform, including livestreaming, it’s necessary to also use external marketing channels, particularly social channels, to build your Chinese customer base.

Unlike in the West, social channels play a massive part in the marketing mix in the Chinese market for brands to maximise their discoverability, and acquire, engage and retain customers. Influencer marketing is one of the most widely adopted approaches on Chinese social channels, while social channels and online marketplaces have built their livestreaming platforms to facilitate brands working with a wide range of influencers.

You can check our previous articles on the importance of social selling in the Asia Pacific Region, and how to create a successful influencer marketing campaign for practical tips on launching your influencer marketing campaigns.

Western brands yet to master marketing on Chinese social channels

Our benchmarking research reviewed the 40 brands’ official accounts on three leading social channels in China, namely WeChat, Weibo and Little Red Book (Xiahongshu). Thirty of them had their footprints on all three channels, and the rest were on at least one of the three channels. However, the magnitude of their presence on those social channels widely varied.

Overall, only around a third of the brands reviewed demonstrated the best practices for the number of followers on their social channels. We consider 50,000 or more Weibo followers and 10,000 or more Little Red Book followers optimal to achieve the ecommerce goal. 30% of the brands met this standard on Weibo, with an average of 135,000 followers, while 27.5% of them achieved that on Little Red Book, with an average of 37,700 fans.

Only a minority of the brands could meet the best practices we set for the quantity and quality of content on the brands’ social channels. We found 37.5% of the brands with more than 500 relevant posts on Weibo, and 20% of them with 5,000 or more posts on its Little Red Book account, matching our recommended best practice. Besides, 35% of the brands had more than 500 average reads of their posts on WeChat, which we regarded as the best practice.

In general, Little Red Book saw the most mediocre performance of these brands. 55% of the brands had less than 5,000 followers and 37.5% of them generated less than 1,000 posts, both deemed not up to the standard required. We recommend Western brands further leverage this platform for brand awareness and demand generation marketing, as it is an ideal channel for promoting fashion, beauty and other premium and luxury Western items, thanks to its user base of young, affluent Chinese consumers – predominantly female.

How Pattern can help

Most of the Western brands reviewed tried to leverage local social channels to engage with Chinese consumers, but only a minority of them could successfully exploit these platforms for their off-platform marketing effort. It comes as no surprise, as social media marketing relies on highly localised content.

For this reason, our local Chinese professionals take a data-driven approach to trading the brands we work with on Tmall Global, leveraging insight to plan and implement social media marketing campaigns and initiatives to support our brand partners’ growth in the marketplace.

We partner with brands through a unique model where we buy our partners’ stock and sell it for them on online marketplaces, such as Tmall, JD.com, Lazada, Amazon, Shopee, Coupang and eBay. As one of the top 5% of authorised Tmall Trade Partners, we provide our brand partners with a comprehensive service that helps them protect their brand in China while driving profitable growth.

Contact us to learn more about how Pattern can help your brand grow in Tmall Global.

More Resources
Tmall Global Benchmarking Report 2022
Influencer Marketing Report