Last week was European AdWeek in London. Many of the seminars discussed the use of social media and native advertising and Asia was an area for discussion of new growth.

Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, said: “Technology in China is far ahead of the west” and the debate of the week seemed to focus on the numerous ways that Asian consumers interact with brands, specially in China, and the use of consumer applications and habits such as buying online.


Some China-related tidbits that I found interesting during the week:

Social Media

China is the world’s largest content creator: 96% of adults in the country are active on social media. Users are connected all the time: 74% of users connect on mobile daily.

These are FAST adapters– 93% of the population are on Weixin, an app that only launched in late 2010.

Weixin is more than a social app, it is a lifestyle platform with mobile news, blogging, e-commerce, mobile wallet and professional resume features.

The origin of social media in the west was to stay in touch with friends from college after everyone moved away. The origin of social media in China was to redefine social ties and create communities that could openly debate the acts of the nation. For this reason, Chinese social media users were always older and more educated and motivated that Western counterparts (on a whole).

Online Shopping

Consumers in the west shop online to be quick and convenient, Chinese consumers buy online to kill time and for entertainment.

Taobao (including Tmall) accounts for 80% of online transactions.

Alibaba can deliver anywhere in China in 12-48 hours.

Most consumers genuinely believe peer product reviews and heavily base their purchase decision on this. Alibaba uses consumer ratings of products to increase or decrease access through search results based on their customer review.

Jing Dong, an online shopping platform formerly known as 360buy, is currently being integrated into the Weixin application for a seamless purchase experience.

Platforms like Meilishuo, with a similar style to pinterest, are becoming more common. On Meilishuo content is created and edited by its users, content cannot be sponsored. These are ordinary people who become influencers for many brands. Brands can have profiles on this site, but the brand profiles are edited and controlled by users only.


Leading tech companies are following the path of western tech giants such as google and Facebook by acquiring many smaller tech startups to fold into their existing offering. Tencent recently bought a 15% share of to provide e-commerce for its weixin app; Alibaba purchased 18% of Weibo connecting China’s largest Twitter-like service with the nation’s biggest e-commerce company.

In 2013, mobile transactions climbed 317% to US$1.58trillion (Bank of China).

Once heavily regulated industries, such as banking, are being revolutionised as the government loosens grip and technology further integrates.

Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent all offer saving portfolios, loans, insurance and payment platforms.

Yu’E Bao, an investment service offered by Alipay (owned by Alibaba), China’s leading online payments provider, and Tian Hong Asset Management now has the largest money market fund in China.

The government is now being pressured to curb the abilities of these applications and put a limit in the amount that can be exchanged.

Final Thoughts…

“90% of Chinese say they would make an effort to buy from a brand they they feel is trying to save the world, only 35% of people in the UK would.”

– Michael Wall Global CEO , LOWE AND PARTNERS

“Advertising on social media in China is dead— you have to engage consumers with added value. Weixin does not use paid advertising, therefore brands have to be consumer centric and contribute to the experience to get any attention.”

-Vincent Digonnet Executive Chairman,RAZORFISH APAC