One-third of the digital marketers in China who responded to our survey indicated that eCommerce is one of their job responsibilities (see the figure). Forrester sees this trend developing in China as well as in Western markets. For example, in the US, Gap redesigned its global CMO role by merging eCommerce and digital marketing in a single executive position earlier this year.
However, the fusion of digital marketing and eCommerce teams is happening more extensively in China because:
Social and commerce are more closely intertwined in China than anywhere else. The bond between social media and eCommerce is extremely close in China, exemplified by the strategic partnerships between WeChat and JD.com and between Alibaba and Weibo.
With a whopping 549 million monthly active users, WeChat has become the largest mobile social app in Asia Pacific. Smart marketers not only borrow mobile momentsfrom WeChat, but leverage its power across the customer life cycle. My recently published report, Reinvent Customer Relationships With WeChat Mobile, helps B2C marketers understand the dynamics of the WeChat mobile ecosystem and learn how to best ride the wave of the WeChat-dominated mobile revolution in China. The report:
Shows how dominant WeChat is in Chinese consumers’ mobile lives.WeChat has become the default social networking tool in China and has disrupted consumers’ mobile behaviors. Metro Chinese consumers already spend more than half of their mobile Internet time on it. In the past year, WeChat users consumed US$15.3 billion worth of mobile data— more than Weibo, shopping, video, music, mapping, and email services combined.
Identifies the core features and services of the WeChat mobile ecosystem.WeChat is far more than a messaging app; it’s a rich mobile ecosystem filled with powerful features and services. The key ones that marketers can leverage include branded public accounts, advertising, WeChat Payment, eCommerce, smart services, and linking online to offline.
When it comes to engaging Chinese mobile consumers, top digital-native apps like WeChat attract more attention than brand-owned ones. Smart marketers are starting to borrow mobile moments rather than create their own. So how can you pursue a similar strategy? My most recent brief, The Power Of Borrowed Mobile Moments, provides marketers with the guidance needed to successfully borrow mobile moments.
Forrester defines a mobile moment as a point in time and space when someone pulls out a mobile device to get what they want in their immediate context. Mobile moments are the key to winning the mobile battle, as they create an opportunity to transform consumers’ perception of a brand. For B2C marketers in China, the opportunity is great — the country is the world's largest smartphone market — but so is the challenge: Chinese consumers have extremely high expectations when it comes to mobile services.
Our research indicates that, of the different types of mobile moments, borrowed moments are the most essential to winning over Chinese consumers. There are a few reasons for this:
WeChat and a few mega-apps dominate consumers’ mobile moments. Metro Chinese consumers already spend more than half of their mobile Internet time on WeChat. A few other popular apps, such as Didi Dache and MeituPic, have attracted hundreds of millions of users and enjoy high daily usage.
“Owned” mobile moments are less likely to work in China. The country’s relatively slow mobile Internet speeds have shaped consumers’ preference for data-light apps and resistance to downloading and using individual brand apps.
Mobile expectations are high in the world’s largest smartphone market. However, marketers lag behind consumer mobile adoption in China and need to do a better job understanding trends in mobile behavior in order to develop effective mobile strategies. My most recent report, The New Mobile Mind Shift Index: China, introduces Forrester’s new Mobile Mind Shift Index (MMSI) to China.
MMSI is a tool to enable marketing leaders to determine how urgently they should provide mobile services and which features to include. It measures how far an individual has shifted in their approach to mobile across three components:
The Mobile Intensity Score determines if it is appropriate to connect with customers. This score, on a scale from zero to 100, indicates how intensely people use interactive mobile devices.
The Mobile Expectation Score determines the urgency to create mobile applications. This score, also on a scale from zero to 100, indicates what people expect from companies on their mobile devices.
Three Mobile Behavior Scores determine which types of features people are ready for. We calculate three behavioral scores, each on its own scale of zero to 100. The Communicate Score indicates participation in mobile communications behaviors like reading email and texting. The Consume Score measures behaviors like reading news and watching video. The Transact Score tracks behaviors like online buying and service.
In China, digital disruption is affecting nearly all industries, including telecommunications (WeChat); transportation and travel (Didi Dache, Kuaidi Dache); and banking and financial services (WeChat Payment, Alipay Wallet). In this digital era, marketers in China face opportunities and challenges in digital marketing:
Opportunities: fast-growing digital marketing budgets and more digital marketing duties. More than three-quarters of the marketers responding to Forrester’s Q1 2015 China Digital Marketing Online Survey indicated that they will increase their digital marketing budget in 2015. Also, they are increasingly expanding their digital marketing duties into newer areas such as social and mobile marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), and eCommerce.
Challenges:meeting increased pressure to deliver business outcomes. Marketing leaders are bearing more responsibility for business outcomes. As a result, they face the challenge of measuring the results of digital marketing efforts and achieving positive ROI. Marketers are increasingly concerned with the effectiveness of their digital marketing spending and are striving for better strategies, tactics, and targeting.
Why is this report so important to marketing leaders in China right now? To reach China’s 670 million online consumers (a number that continues to grow rapidly) and engage with them, marketers in China need more digital marketing support from their agencies. As such, digital agencies play a more important role than ever, as they:
Manage a rapidly growing digital marketing budget. As online ad spending in China has almost doubled over the past two years, leading agencies in China are seeing an increasing shift of ad budgets from traditional media to digital — so these agencies must support more complex digital marketing plans and campaigns.
Expand to a broader spectrum of digital services. With the rapidly evolving digital landscape in China, digital agencies are constantly adding new digital services — including social marketing, mobile marketing, customer experience strategy, CRM, and eCommerce — that go far beyond web development and online advertising campaigns.
Why is your input important? Through this survey, we will:
Understand your key challenges in digital marketing. Marketing leaders in China have larger digital marketing budgets — but they also bear more responsibility and face a more complicated digital marketing environment.
Outline your pain points in working with digital agencies. Marketing leaders in China have more digital agency options than ever before, but their expectations of digital agencies have changed along with their shifted responsibilities.
We will use the results to help marketing leaders in China:
Understand key trends to prioritize your digital marketing efforts. This data will help you benchmark your key focus for digital marketing in 2015.
Select the right digital agency to meet your most important needs. We will soon publish our first Forrester Wave™ evaluation of digital agencies in China, which will help marketers assess and select digital agency services. This data will help you customize the Wave to select the right digital agency to help you overcome your top digital challenges.
With a whopping 468 million monthly active users, WeChat has been the focus of marketers for a while; as of July 2014, WeChat had 5.8 million public accounts. However, marketing leaders face challenges in using WeChat for marketing:
WeChat is a private social platform. The tactics that work on open social platforms like Weibo do not necessarily work on private social platforms like WeChat. Many marketers still wrongly attempt to use WeChat as a platform for news announcements.
WeChat provides limited ad formats and APIs. Although we do see Tencent considering the possibilities of introducing display ads in Moments (WeChat’s timeline) and laying the groundwork for search advertising by partnering with the local search engine Sogou, so far the only available advertising opportunity for marketers is purchasing display ads in public account articles. Many marketers also complain about the limited APIs that WeChat provides to them.
Taxi-hailing apps are gaining momentum globally, and China is a very important battlefield for both international players like Uber and local players like Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache. While the battle for market share and consumer loyalty is ongoing, monetization has also appeared on the agenda of these taxi-hailing apps. Pioneer marketers have started to experiment with mobile advertising on Didi, and Huawei is one of them.
On December 17, 2014, Huawei sponsored Didi’s lucky money in its first attempt to place mobile ads on Didi for its newest smartphone, the Huawei Honor 6 Plus. Huawei has embedded the product name, ad copy, and images in Didi lucky money and aims to reach the more than 100 million Didi users and their friends on WeChat. Huawei has created four opportunities for ad exposure:
1. Banner ad on the menu page of the Didi app
2. Full-page ad when the user clicks into the banner ad
3. Sponsorship of Didi lucky money shared in WeChat
4. Full-page ad embedded in Didi lucky money
This ad campaign has certainly created buzz and attracted attention. However, Huawei could improve its implementation by:
China’s Xiaomi became the world's third-largest smartphone maker by market share for the first time in the third quarter of this year; it trails only Samsung and Apple and has surpassed its Chinese competitor Lenovo. As a somewhat new brand founded in 2010, Xiaomi’s achievement is impressive. Among the many factors contributing to Xiaomi's rising success, social marketing is, without doubt, a prominent one.
Xiaomi’s recipe for success contains three social ingredients:
Adopt various social platforms and tactics to engage with fans. Xiaomi has successfully integrated social into its marketing RaDaR and turned 11 million social media followers into super-loyal “Mi Fans.” It uses Weibo to attract new users (reach); its branded online community to provide detailed product and service information (depth) and to generate brand loyalty (relationship); and WeChat for customer service (relationship).
Extend the social frenzy offline. Xiaomi is a digital disruptor, but its social marketing success isn’t limited to the online world. Xiaomi values the power of its fans on social media and extends it offline. It named its annual new product launch event after its fans – the Mi Fan Festival. Xiaomi also holds gatherings for its fans in more than 100 cities in China and organizes events, such as the MiBand Run, to enhance the relationship between its fans and the brand.