The meteoric rise of China and its economy is perhaps unlike that of any country before it. In 2018 it grew 6.6% – and that was a slow year (for context, the UK grew 1.4% in the same period).
In today’s world, you can’t possibly grow and operate globally without firmly incorporating China and its burgeoning market into your plans. While there are a range of nuances to consider in breaking into China, the promise of looking east has never been greater – especially as its tech sector continues to thrive. To refresh your brain on the opportunities out there, here are a few reminders why China should be at the top of your to-do list.
As one of the largest and fastest–growing markets in the world, advertising is set to become a trillion-dollar industry by 2027 and the majority of this growth will come from the APAC region. As early as 2022, APAC will be the biggest region for advertising.
With China and APAC acting as the engine driving global growth, if you’re not ready to hop on board, someone else will – and that train will leave the station without you.
Emerging internal markets
When you look at the individual markets within China, the numbers are staggering. China is home to the world’s second-largest middle class, and it’s set to continue its breakneck growth over the next few years. By 2030, over 70% of its population will be middle class.
That means a mind-boggling number of people empowered to make purchasing decisions for the very first time – and those aren’t just decisions about what to buy, but also where to buy it. The advertising industry will have a key role in where Chinese consumers choose to spend their hard-earned yuan – so consider this a call to action for brands and tech providers alike.
When it comes to mobile, China is way ahead of other countries – both in terms of adoption and wider innovation. In fact, when it comes to China’s 814 million internet users, 97% are mobile-based. That’s almost one billion users that are just a bleep, ping or push notification away – and they’re constantly interacting with the world around them on their smartphones. For mobile advertisers, that’s an unprecedented opportunity to create some of the most efficient, one-to-one advertising there is.
But more than just scale, the way the mobile ecosystem operates in China is different, too.
Companies like WeChat, Tencent, Weibo and Baidu are hubs of activity where tens or even hundreds of millions of users convene, converse, buy, sell and scroll. And that makes strategic partners in the market who know their way around the right platforms – and the right content to match – extremely important.
China is also distinguished by its extensive receptiveness to e-commerce. In short, it’s flourishing: the Singles’ Day event on 11 November, for example, regularly racks up almost £24bn on a single day. That makes it the biggest such event around – worth almost twice as much as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Thanksgiving combined in the US, the next biggest market (£14bn).
Of added importance alongside this is China’s position as a regional hub – the focus of £1.5 trillion of cross-border commerce, whether that’s people buying things from China, or the other way around. For brands, China’s thriving e-commerce industry combined with its position as a hub for neighboring countries means the market is already there and ready to engage – you just have to jump in and grab it.
And by ready to engage, we mean ready. 84% of the Chinese market regularly engages with brands and makes online purchases. Together with high rates of mobile use and an inclination towards e-commerce, high engagement rates are the cherry on top of a lucrative market for brands.
But with so many consumers around, it’s important you’re getting through to the right ones. Again, a trusted partner with existing audiences – or the reach, scale and performance to make new ones – will be worth its weight in gold here. So don’t be afraid to buddy-up.
The end – and the beginning
Despite all these positive signs and growth in recent years, China remains relatively untapped for Western brands. But it won’t stay like that forever. As the Chinese market grows in affluence as well as in size, it’ll be those who take the leap and put their money where their mouths are who really benefit.
A trusted tech partner can smooth the transition and give you the data you need to make your move to China a real success. The Trade Desk, for example, has broken the mold and built its own tech infrastructure in China itself, as well as building partnerships with the key domestic players like Baidu, iQIYI, Tencent, and Alibaba’s Youku to ensure every penny, cent and jiao makes a real impact.
So what are you waiting for? As they say in China – ‘the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step’. So start now, and see the difference.
Anna Forbes, UK general manager, The Trade Desk