Looking at China – what’s next to boost e-commerce marketing?


Digital ad spending in Southeast Asia has seen phenomenal growth since the pandemic. According to eMarketer, digital ad spend in the region has seen a growth rate of 17.8% and this year alone accounts for 32.9% of total media ad spend in the region. Entering an endemic phase, recent forecasts highlight that digital ad spend will continue to grow in 2024 to account for 35.3% of total media ad spend.

Clearly, the market has become increasingly competitive for brands and retailers looking to capture consumers’ attention. It’s not just about keeping current consumers engaged, the challenge extends to reaching new customers.

Competition for consumers continues to grow

Despite the reopening of brick-and-mortar retail, online sales show no signs of slowing down, leading to increased competition from an explosion of D2C brands. Branding has become essential to stand out from the competition; it is not enough to rely solely on performance marketing to generate sales. Brands need to go beyond product delivery to invest in long-term acquisition and brand building, delivering added value to consumers.

Additionally, consumer experience expectations are constantly changing and personalization demands are increasing more than ever despite data regulations. All of this leads to the question: how can brands continue to dominate the competition by connecting with new and existing consumers?

Look East

The key to dominating the competition is making the right adjustments to your brand’s ecommerce-focused marketing strategy — and the best way to do that is to learn directly from the experts. There is no doubt that China is a major force in the e-commerce industry, leading the way for the future of e-commerce through innovation. Over the years, we have observed the main market trends from China; from mobile commerce to live streaming – all culminating in a global phenomenon. In fact, if we were to take a closer look at Alibaba’s success, maintaining a consistent consumer-centric approach has always been at the core of its operations.

1. Innovative online shopping experiences

It’s a challenge to grab the attention of consumers in a saturated and competitive market, and another to hold the attention of consumers. China has risen to this challenge by combining innovation and imagination to provide consumers with next-level shopping experiences.

Take for example how Alibaba has optimized technology, in particular augmented reality. In 2019, Alibaba partnered with leading AR company Perfect Corp to integrate YouCam virtual fitting technology into Tmall and Taobao. The concept of virtual fitting has gained traction with consumers – helping them view and experience products and make their final decision – right through to checkout. It is true that Alibaba reported a fourfold increase in conversions in six months.

With the recent rollout of the virtual try-on tool by Lazada and Shopee earlier this year, augmented reality provides brands with a tool to stand out and deliver more personalized experiences to consumers. Early adoption of this tool will likely pay dividends in the future by building brand engagement.

2. Diversification is key

With acquisition costs rising, it’s important to play your cards right when it comes to on- and off-platform advertising. Diversifying your primary marketing channels is crucial not only for acquiring new consumers, but also for developing lifelong brand loyalty. In China, channel diversification has gone beyond mainstream channels to target large but underappreciated channels (such as Tencent’s QQ) as well as smaller, more niche channels (such as KEEP).

Initially a strategic approach that has benefited small and medium-sized businesses, this approach can help brands reach new audiences and expand current customer bases.

Identifying the right off-platform channels for a brand’s consumers and investing in more channels with higher engagement rates helps brands expand their consumer communication touchpoints and aligns with implementation future of more targeted efforts around audience segments.

3. Consumer Loyalty Through Private Traffic Channels

As consumer attention becomes increasingly divided between key apps and touchpoints, private traffic may well be the solution for brands to create more profitable and sustainable customer acquisitions. Private traffic has been a buzzword for marketers in China since 2019 and a popular option among small businesses as it allows small brands to reach consumers in a variety of trust-building exercises (including including individual product expertise sharing and interest-based communities) at a lower budget.

WeChat is one of many popular platforms for private traffic in China – brands have successfully leveraged the WeChat ecosystem to drive traffic and build an independent community to promote conversions.

What is the role of private traffic in Southeast Asia? We have observed that Dior uses WhatsApp communities as a first marketplace offering customer engagement and attention, but as we move forward and our communication channels evolve in functionality, brands across multiple categories will take private traffic seriously. as a distinctive factor to boost brand loyalty and online sales.

4. Make strategic data collaborations work for you

Data optimization has always been the holy grail for gaining a competitive advantage in the market. Strategic data collaborations, however, offer a greater opportunity to reach both new and existing consumers. Tmall actively collaborates with brands to examine category-specific customer behavior on the platform to identify key trends and create relevant products accordingly.

Whether you choose to work with an insights partner or invest in analytics, this is a valuable opportunity to pursue in Southeast Asia and can be a game-changer for the overall e-marketing strategy. trade your brand.

With all the innovations coming from China, now is the time to revamp your e-commerce marketing strategy to stay ahead of the competition. Even better if executed with the help of an eCommerce marketing partner with the expertise and track record of success.

The author is Anna March, Regional Director of Ecommerce and Performance Marketing, Intrepid Asia.

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