China digital mini-series #3 – The Unique socio-political and cultural factors impact on the use of digital media in China

The consumption of digital media by Chinese people is influenced by their upbringing and cultural environment. Here are some key traits that influence their use of digital media:

  • Although first enacted by the Chinese government in 1979, the one-child policy still has had a huge impact on brands’ marketing plans. In example, new parents in China tend to buy the best products available for their babies, as it is likely they will not have more children. The one-child policy has also contributed to the popularity of online games and social networking sites, as they provide ways for only children to make friends and be more sociable.
  • Efforts to relax the one-child policy laws first took precedent in 2013, when some cities began allowing partners to have a second child if both parents are only children themselves. Whereas in rural areas, families are allowed to have two if their firstborn is a girl. These efforts are in response to prevent an ageing population along with the negative impacts this causes to the economy.
  • The concepts of ‘authenticity’ and an ‘imported product’ are highly valued by Chinese consumers, despite the higher cost of such goods when compared to locally produced brands. The national media is full of negative reports about issues such as fake Chinese products made from harmful materials. ‘315’ (15th of March) is designated as ‘Consumer Day’ by the state-owned broadcaster, CCTV (Chinese Central Television). On this day, the channel reports on any brand malpractice it has discovered, so the day is nerve-racking for many companies. Digital media provide other ways for PR to be distributed in a timely manner: social networking sites and search engines are critical channels that help brands to share news, clarify positions and even apologise for their mistakes.

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  • Chinese people love giving and receiving presents to friends and family, which creates commercial opportunities for brands. The giving of gifts is especially popular to mark specific holidays and festive periods, such as the Chinese New Year, the Dragon Boat Festival, the Autumn Moon Festival, and Valentine’s Day (both the Western and Chinese varieties).
  • The number of mobile internet users has surpassed PC internet users in China. In the mass market, it is cheaper to own a smartphone than a PC. According to Taobao 2012 Mobile Shopping Annual Report, mobile commerce grew by 600% 2012 vs 2011, highlighting the incredible speed of mobile adaptation amongst Chinese online shoppers. Whilst the growth figures of Chinese mobile e-commerce have slowed down from 2012, purchasing trends on smartphones continues to become more prominent in Chinese ecommerce. Consumers who own smartphones are an extremely valuable demographic for brands to target with digital media marketing campaigns.

This article is released as part of China digital marketing mini-series. To learn about Chinese Marketing opportunity please view our service strategy and planning page. Alternatively, feel free to contact us below via the contact information at the bottom of the page.


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