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How to tap into Chinese market: the complete list of marketing channels in China, part 1

How to tap into Chinese market: the complete list of marketing channels in China, part 1

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You have an excellent product/service that you want to sell to China? Or you just simply target to attract more customers/purchases/investments from China to your companies/shops/projects in Europe? The first thing that most people could think about is to go to China physically, rent an office there, recruit some local staff (who are no longer cheap), which could work, ONLY if you have millions of euros ready to be spent, like a fashionable Chinese name “tu hao” (土豪, nouveau riche).

tu hao

If you are still reading this article, I assume that you are not “tu hao”, and you do care every cent that’s gonna be spent. Good, given the fact that we are in the same category of “non tu hao”, I would love to offer some free facts & figures first before we tap into the marketing channels:

1.Before booking your flight to China, you should be aware of a fact firstly that there are 650 million of internet users in China, among which 86% are on phones (2014), which means internet marketing should be on the top of your marketing priorities in China;

2. There are two new trendy international business models called “online marketing” and “cross-border e-Commerce”, which could allow you to stay at home (free coffee and free hugs from family) and sell products to your target customers abroad;

3. China is the largest e-Commerce market in the world, with an e-tailing volume over 500 billion USD in 2015 itself;

4. Chinese online consumers find their way to foreign products through various channels, either C2C channel (customers to customers, namely via individual purchasing agents located outside China), or B2C platforms (business to customers), which are either mailed directly from abroad or from bonded warehousing in China. In 2013, 18 million Chinese consumers bought overseas products online, with a total value of approximately USD 35 billion.


Ok, now business starts: how you could reach these 650 million Chinese netizens, and become part of the fancy figures.

Before taking any steps, my suggestion would always be: know your customers first!

  • Who are they? 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s…
  • What attracts their attention? Immigration, European lifestyle, baby nutrition, …
  • Where do they go? Social media, online forums, apps, online games, …
  • How to win their trust? Do not be associated with any NEGATIVE platforms/media/events …

So spend some time to do some marketing research first before setting up any marketing strategies or choosing any marketing channels. If you are too busy, or no idea of where to start, then hire a professional China-focused marketing agent like Goglo who have local knowledge & network and easy to communicate with.

After knowing your customers, then we could start to select the right and most effective marketing channels in China to build up your name and reputation.

Generally speaking, marketing channels in China can be categorized into three groups: Push channels,  Community marketing, and Word of Mouth marketing. In this article, we will focus on the Push channels. Two more serial articles will follow to introduce Community marketing and Word of Mouth marketing.

Push channels refer to the channels that could push your name/products/services directly to the target group; in China, marketeers sometimes call it “hard advertisements” (ying guang gao). It is a direct and traditional way to introduce your products/services to customers, whereas whenever the audience sees your ad in these channels, “commercial advertisement” will occur to their head immediately. There are quite a few approaches in this catogery.


1. Online Advertisement

1)Search Engine: SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing, pay per click);

In China, Google is banned, and Baidu is the dominant search engine (whatever reputation it holds, it still covers the biggest market share);  others like Bing, sougou also occupy some market shares. Baidu itself has quite different modulars of course, i.e. Tieba (consists of massive different online forums), Zhidao (like wikihow), Jingyan, Wenku (like slideshare), Baike (like wikipedia), etc. Some of these are commercial, some are not;

Advertisements on search engine require professional knowledge and IT skills; workloads is high as well and normally carried on by a team of different functional staff (i.e. web developer, SEO professional, SEM professional, content creator, graphic designer, etc.); it’s better to have a professional team or hire local professional China-focused marketing agent like Goglo to do it; a high-quality team with NATIVE experience can save you lots of money and time.

2) Web Directory: or online “yellow page”, i.e. hao123.com, hao.360.cn,123.sogou.com, etc.;

3) Advertisement Alliance: Baidu Union, Sougou Union, 163 union, etc.;

4) News Feede.qq.com, toutiao, Momo, Youdao, etc.;

5) Cost per impression: tencent, sina, 163.com, etc.;


2. Offline Media

1) TV: CCTV, or regional TV, can be commercials, or interviews, sponsorship, placement, etc.;

2) Newspaper: i.e. People Daily, 21jingji, etc.;

3) Magazines: travel, car, economy & finance, etc,;

4) Radio station: i.e. City FM, Music FM.


3. Banner ads

1) Media companies: i.e. Focus Media, Bus Online, etc;

2) Subway/metro: high exposure, but very expensive;

 3) Bus: inside/outside of buses; bus stops;

 4) Others: outdoors, railway station, airport, cinemas, highway banners, etc..

China metro ad

The Metro/subway in China are full of commercials


4. Trade and Associations

Try to find the local trade and associations of your industry in China; they have websites/newsletters, which can help you to spread your name as well to target group.


5. On-Ground promotion

Hire students/part-timers to go to the shops, restaurants, villages, shopping malls, city centers to talk to people, give out flyers, or performance shows.

ground promotion A typical style of a On-ground promotion in China


6. Seminars/events/exhibitions

Attend seminars/exhibitions to talk to target group face to face; sponsor a seminar or co-organize could play a more influential role.

Would you love to know more about how each channel works, or you might be excited to set up your footprint from one of them ? Feel free to drop us an email or make an appointment via here.


About the Author: Susie Huang

Susie is a Chinese native living in the Netherlands. She got her bachelor degree in China and afterwards worked in Shanghai in sales & marketing for a few years. Then she came to Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands for an MBA degree. Since then Susie has worked for several Dutch companies, and finally decided to become an entrepreneur herself and founded Goglo Consultancy, to help European business to extend its reach in China.

” Being passionate about what I am doing, my sense of achievements relies on tAvatar-Susie_V1he results that we help you to achieve”

    – Susie Huang



Mohd Zahir Yaakob

May 31, 2016 at 8:17 am

Hi Susie, I am a founder of ” spice tea”, suitable for diabetic and high cholesterol patient, with limited budget, I wish to break into Chinese market that has 114 million registered diabetic sufferers, while the unregistered could be 3 times that.
Looking for means of getting there as well as potential investors.
Thank you

Daniel Voon

January 25, 2016 at 1:01 am

Hi Susie

Thank you for your article. We are a small company with limited budget. However we have excellent educational programmes for early learners (preschoolers), but we do not have the means to break into the vast Chinese market. Hence, we are either looking for investors, partners and/or selling our programmes with copy rights and brand to organisation to launch them in China. Your advice?


    January 25, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    Hi Daniel, thank you for your messages. Now the market for the kids in China is really booming, as people are more willing to spend for the kids, in particular nowadays the “single child” policy was polished at the beginning of this year. I will write you and we could discuss. Regards, Susie

moira edmunds

January 22, 2016 at 5:34 pm

I am a tour operator and registered tourist guide. Would you be able to assist me to penetrate the Chinese travel market to access travellers to Africa who might need operator services, shuttles or tour guides


    January 22, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Hi Moira, thank you very much for your kind message. Absolutely Goglo is pleased to help you. I will write you an email soon. Kind regards, Goglo Team.


    February 12, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    That’s the pefecrt insight in a thread like this.

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How to tap into Chinese market: the complete list of marketi…

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