With 1.4 billion digital-first consumers, China’s mobile-savvy population has often signaled the future direction of global digital, social, and e-commerce marketing. However, pandemic-related restrictions in the past year have led to the emergence of a new Chinese consumer psychology that is challenging global marketers looking to restart engaging consumers in the region.

Using proprietary market research tools, independent marketing consultancy R3 has identified 14 key trends that defined China’s content and experiential marketing in 2022. ‘Content Radar’ also provides practical insights for brands looking to reignite marketing efforts in China and outlines best practice for driving ROI in content, social, and influencer investment in 2023.

“A new generation of consumers are looking for shared value and advocacy for individual and collective health and wellness,” said Sabrina Li, Managing Director of R3 China. “They are reconsidering how they shop and what deserves their attention and loyalty.”

This shift in attitude has even impacted China’s typically revenue record-breaking shopping festivals.

“Major retail platforms have tried to boost activity by simplifying sales rules, offering bigger discounts, and relaxing conditions for merchants, but such incentives have squeezed profits and increased risks for small-and-medium enterprises, who incur most of the cost of discounts,” Li continued. “This has not only resulted in an increase in prices due to pressure on supply chains and a decline in consumer spending power but a re-evaluation by Chinese shoppers around consumerism and the purpose of shopping and retail.”

Four Trends from Content Radar’s 2022 Year In Review

CSR – Brands want to be seen as being part of and contributing to a positive society. Many brands were responsive to government views on the environment, social actions, and organizations. In efforts to unite their consumers on social platforms, brands highlighted CSR initiatives and product innovation through eco-campaigns. 

Body Positivity for Emotional Wellness – Brands are focusing on overall emotional wellness and building confidence and self-esteem in response to the prevalent anxiety felt by young Chinese females about their appearance. This has contributed to the increase in the use of athletes and fitness influencers as spokespeople and ambassadors, and body-positive messaging in content marketing.

Using Audio to Break Through Off-Screen Time – More brands started finding new ways to integrate into daily routines and be a presence in people’s lives even as consumers take time away from screens. Still an emerging form in China, brand-sponsored, and owned podcasts are growing trends as marketers find the medium ideal for building private traffic and long-term engagement. An increase in capital investment into podcast platforms will also provide marketers with more confidence in the development of podcast networks in China.

Shopping & E-Commerce Festivals – Social platforms are tapping into the benefits of being involved with e-commerce festivals like 11:11, China’s leading shopping festival. Benefits include the ability to diversify their collaboration with brands and have a reason to generate excitement – and commercial transactions – throughout the calendar year.

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