The importance of social media to boom your eCommerce

March 2020

The power of social media to create brand awareness and drive traffic is a well-established opinion (established fact!) but this is nowhere more applicable than in China. You may argue that a social media strategy shall be a brand’s main and overall marketing strategy. In the West digital marketing, and therein, social marketing is key, but a lot is spent on the eCommerce platforms themselves. In China platform marketing is important but without social media marketing activities it will be hard to reach success. Almost 70% of Chinese consumer decisions are taken from the influence of KOL’s, UGC and other aspects related to social media. The Western consumer behaviour is not influenced to the same extent.

So why is this and what made social media in China pivotal for successful eCommerce? It is probably a fine combination of online behaviour, savviness, curiosity, and an online eco-system that allows fast and effective conversion.

The Chinese eCommerce market is not only the biggest but also has among the youngest consumers. The youth in China, post 90’s and post 00’s, may account for over 65% of the total consumption. A very prominent group of shoppers that more than others are influenced by what the read, see and interact with through social media. This group of consumers also tend to be more mobile savvy and curious to try new ways of shopping online. Their interactive behaviour with KOL’s, LOL’s and live streaming shopping make this group of millennials and generation Z’s a challenging segment for marketers to set forth a marketing strategy.

The digital landscape of social media and eCommerce in China is unique. When studying the global eCommerce market there is no doubt that trend and technology developments in China must be considered. The reason is not because that China has become the largest eCommerce market in the world and still rapidly growing or due to the unique digital infrastructure with the “Great Firewall”. The reason why China is so unique is driven by following key factors: Strong mobile first behaviour; advanced social eCommerce models; high trust towards digital payment systems; and innovative new retail thinking with seamless integration of offline and online experiences.

The close interaction between social media and eCommerce led to the booming behaviour of Social Commerce, where content is king (more so than anywhere else) and which, by 2020, accounted for more than 30% of the total online retail business. The consumer segment, made out primarily of millennials and generation Z’s, has social media as an integral part of their daily life. They follow their favourite celebrities and KOL’s, interact with their preferred brands and their purchase is more than others linked to their social media community rather than the actual needs or desire for a product’s function.

Social eCommerce can be split into three different types of platforms: content-sharing platforms, membership-based platforms, and team purchase platforms. In China, user generated content is one of the most effective ways engage with consumers and get conversion. This content is straightforward, relevant and in general easily accessible. Via social commerce, the product finds its way to the buyer rather than the traditional way where the consumer initiates a search, filter through and narrow down to the relevant product to buy.