Adapting Your China Marketing Efforts During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Adapting Your China Marketing Efforts During the Coronavirus Outbreak

It is no secret that China has been dealing with some pretty bad things for the past few months. The people of China have come face-to-face with a new type of virus called Coronavirus. This new virus has quickly become one of the most dangerous, as well as one of the most lethal viruses that humankind has ever faced. But what does all of this mean for all your marketing efforts that are – in one way or another – connected to China?

With China on lockdown due to all the Coronavirus infections that have been happening all over the country for the past few weeks or months, there is absolutely no doubt that the entire country has taken several steps down when it comes to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is also important to note that survival has become much more important than the world of consumerism. Due to the fact that the government is advising people to stay at home, the world of offline retail is almost non-existent in China.

The good news is that some business operations have returned to their original, functioning ways. However, concerns regarding the Coronavirus are far from over, which is the main reason why many Chinese offices are still closed. Also, more and more people are opting to work from home because they don’t want to risk getting infected. What should businesses do to handle these challenging times? Is there anything that they can do to support their customers?

The Current Situation

One particular image recently became very popular in China. In other words, the image went viral. The left side of the image contains a list of all the goals that people had set for themselves prior to the Coronavirus outbreak. This list includes goals like getting a promotion, buying a new car, and even finding a girlfriend or boyfriend. However, it is important to note that this side of the image is crossed out, while the right side of the image shows only one goal for 2020 – to stay alive.

And since the government is advising people not to gather in public areas, the majority of restaurants, movie theaters, and offline retail shops have remained closed since the Spring Festival. While it is true that there are some Chinese consumers who are still actively browsing e-commerce websites, the sales of non-essentials have shown big signs of slowing down, and that is completely understandable. Why buy a new dress when you can’t leave your home, right?

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Because people are being forced to stay at home all day long, the majority of them seem to be spending much more time playing video games, watching their favorite movies, and using their favorite social media platforms. But they spend much less time on their shopping purposes than they used to spend before the Coronavirus outbreak. However, if recovery from the Coronavirus follows the same timeline as SARS, many people believe that retail sales will start getting back to normal in April and May and that a complete turn of events (in a positive way) will take place in June.

The Internet Usage Seems To Be Increasing

The Chinese New Year is one of the most popular seasons when it comes to video apps and people having more free time to kill. Since the people of China have been confined to their homes for weeks due to the Coronavirus outbreak, both of the above-mentioned two things have been magnified. For example, one report has found that between January 20th and February 2nd, more than 570 new accounts have been created on two of the most popular video platforms in China – Kuaishou, and Douyin. In just two weeks, each of these two platforms has gained between 100,000 and 500,000 new followers.

The report has also shown that state-run media accounts and governmental organizations have experienced the most growth on both of the above-mentioned platforms. This is because many people have used these accounts to follow the latest updates regarding the Coronavirus outbreak. It also seems that many people like to watch comedy, gaming, celebrity, and food videos. Also, content that is related to children’s games and crafts, working from home, and the world of health and fitness is always extremely popular. As far as gaming, live streaming, and online learning apps, all three of these things have experienced a massive gain in users as well.

Recommendations For Brands

There is absolutely no doubt that the Coronavirus outbreak has caused some big damage to the world of business in China. That being said, what should brands do during this sensitive period? Well, they certainly have to do something, right? Here are some of the most important things that you need to know if you want to keep your brand in working order during the Coronavirus outbreak!

You Need To Show Your Support

Showing your support and empathy during the Coronavirus outbreak is a much better option than staying silent. If your brand is not big enough to donate funds, you can always share encouraging messages or create content teaching consumers how to stay safe during these challenging times. You can also show your support by sending some of your products to those who need them without asking for money.

Keep in mind that internal support isn’t any less important than external support. With this in mind, it is very important for you to show both compassion and empathy for your employees. You can do this by letting them work from home, checking on their family members, or providing free face masks at the office. That being said, if you know how to handle your online content with care, you can use your favorite social media platforms to increase the popularity of your business.

Focus On Building Your Brand Equity

While it is true that you shouldn’t stop marketing your business in China, it is also very important to note that you should avoid using hard-selling, or even soft-selling strategies during these challenging times. According to one Chinese marketing expert, business owners need to take different approached based on which category their brand falls into – in-demand, online, or offline.

Regardless of which one of these three categories your brand falls into, here are some things that you can do to keep your brand in working order during the Coronavirus outbreak:

In-Demand Industries

Ever since the Coronavirus outbreak took over China, the demand for several different industries has gained a big amount of popularity. This includes industries like health and fitness, online education, and telecommuting. If your business falls into one of these industries, you should consider donating your products and services to those who need them.

Online Brands

If your brand is known for publishing engaging content online and if you like to sell non-essential products, you should continue publishing engaging content online during these challenging times. However, there is one very important thing that you need to know about all of this – you should stay away from doing anything that is too promotional. For example, you should stay away from running sales or offering discounts during this period. If you possess all the skills needed to create an online video game, don’t hesitate to do it. Ever since the Coronavirus outbreak happened, the use of online video games has skyrocketed. With this in mind, now would be a great time to incorporate some entertainment into your content.

Offline Brands

If you are a business owner whose brand relies heavily on offline services, you should try to bring your services online as soon as possible. There are some offline retailers out there that are making some quick moves when it comes to launching their e-commerce websites.


These are some of the most challenging times that the people of China have ever been through. But it is important to note that this crisis won’t last forever. Since many people are spending the majority of their free time online, this just might be an ideal opportunity for you to focus on building your brand equity. Entertainment, education, and compassion – these are the most important things that you need to focus on during this period. Just remember that your brand will reap all the benefits once all of this goes away and the world returns to its original state.

Keep in mind that all of this is extremely important for offline businesses. This is because some people have predicted that once it is safe to be outside again, the majority of Chinese people will be desperate to get out of their homes. If something like this does end up happening (and it most likely will), it will cause a surge in demand for all sorts of offline entertainment. This includes things like movie theaters, restaurants, and of course, offline retail shops. Some online shops may even want to consider using pop-up shops at that time.

About Digital M

Digital M is a digital marketing agency specializing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Social Media Marketing (SMM).

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About the Author:

My name is Wynn Zhou - SEO expert in Singapore, and I’m the founder & Director here at Digital M which provide digital marketing and SEO in Singapore. I’ll be getting my 10 years of digital marketing experience, I am personally focussed on getting your business to the top of Google so you can enjoy the growth of up to 295% year on year like my other clients.
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