China – a giant B2B market

With around 1.4 billion inhabitants, China offers enormous market potential not only for B2C, but also for B2B companies. “Made in Germany” counts here as a true seal of approval. Nevertheless as a foreign company wishing to establish itself successfully in China, it is important to consider some points. Read here how the chinese market differs from the german one, and what basics and trends you should take into account when marketing in China.

Campaigns have to be market specific

Due to fundamental cultural differences, european marketing campaigns are mostly unsuitable for the Chinese market. If western culture is primarily objective, the chinese advertising world is highly emotion-oriented and thus relies on symbols and the emotions of the target group. Terms and motives, such as “tradition”, “harmony” or “accordance with nature” have a very high priority here. In contrast, Chinese consumers still place particular emphasis on sober facts.

When using colours, for example, you must be aware that symbolism of the colours deviates from what is common in western countries. At traditional Chinese weddings, the bride is dressed entirely in red, since red in Chinese culture stands for joy, happiness and prosperity. White, on the other hand, is traditionally the colour of mourning, death and ancestral spirits and is therefore worn at mourning ceremonies.

chinesische Laternen in einem Baum

Furthermore, when you set up your marketing campaign in China you must pay attention to some rules. The SAIC, the State Administration of Industry & Commerce, decides whether an advertising is justifiable or violates public policy or morality, both of which are stretchy terms.

The right way to the customer

In China, a regulation similar to the german DSGVO (general regulation of data protection) does not exist. Here each user can be individually identified and targeted 1:1. Although chinese companies such as Alibaba and Baidu do not pass on user data to DSPs (demand side platforms), the purchase of targeting segments makes sense and is effective. These are very accurate in China, resulting in low wastage. Also be sure to take care of the topic Mobile Advertising. Mobile First meets China like almost no other market – over 95 percent of web users are online with mobile devices. As a result, the Chinese ad serving for mobile advertising is at 70 percent, and the trend is upward. Support your campaigns through digital out-of-home advertising, in China also one of marketing leaders. The budget for traditional media (print, TV) can be kept substantially lower accordingly.

Regional differences


Due to its size, China presents several regional differences, especially in terms of incomes, leading to different buying patterns in urban and rural areas, west and east, coastal area and inland. Therefore, use geo-targeting to exactly determine your goals and target group(s). Depending on the size of the budget, for example, you can focus on the largest Chinese cities (high budget) or use hyper-local or product-specific campaigns (smaller budgets).

Mobile China versus Mobile West

For the mobile first society China, the use of smartphones is a matter of course. However, there are huge differences in app and internet usage compared to the western world. Especially in the B2B area, apps are important components of the marketing and corporate strategy.

Every american app has a chinese counterpart, which is very important in marketing: WhatsApp – WeChat, PayPal – Alipay, Amazon – Alibaba. The apps present company profiles and serve special advertising formats. In addition, they provide concrete user data, the evaluation of which enables the companies to a targeted response.

For more information and recommendations, the Chinese customer uses online communities. These are crucial for a successful market entry in China, because your users place great value on recommendations and relationships in the virtual as well as in the real world.

B2B platform

Platforms and marketplaces also play a major role in chinese marketing. For B2C, the market leaders JD and Tmall are to be mentioned here primarily. By contrast, Alibaba also covers the B2B sector and sees itself as a chinese and global enabler, with 500 million users indispensable for traders and companies. The chinese user and thus potential customer does not inform with Google and Co., but directly on the platforms. So ensure that you list and market your products in the marketplaces. Pay close attention to detailed descriptions, as a large amount of product information is essential for the purchase decision of most chinese customers.

There are some peculiarities that you should consider if you want to be successful with your company in the Chinese market. Chinese culture is very different from western ones, and strategies that lead to certain success for example in Europe, can be ineffective there, or worst, stand out negatively. What is appropriate for the Chinese market from a Western point of view may be completely unsuitable for Chinese customers. The exact knowledge of your target group and their needs and preferences is the most important thing here, as everywhere in the world, when developing a marketing strategy.

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