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How to use the fastest-growing and most popular China apps for marketing

December 10, 2018 |   Nicolas Chu

China’s home to a flourishing technology market with entrepreneurs developing hundreds of new apps every day. Recently, these popular China apps have even been challenging stable giants like Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu.

In this article, we’ll take a quick look at some of the fastest-growing and most popular apps in China, and reveal how marketers can leverage these apps to drive awareness for their brand in China and increase product demand.


Pinduoduo is an eCommerce platform that found a gap in the market that the big players like Alibaba and JD didn’t realise existed, becoming the fastest-growing app in China’s history.

Pinduoduo’s main audience comes from 3rd tier cities and smaller, who are looking for a bargain rather than the premium products of Tmall and Alibaba.

The innovative app combines social media platforms with retail by allowing customers to get a discount if they buy in bulk with their friends from WeChat. It makes sense, then, that the average order on Pinduoduo is US$6 compared to US$30 on Tmall and US$60 on

If your target market is budget-savvy shoppers looking to snap up a great deal, Pinduoduo should be a key platform in your marketing strategy.

The social nature of the platform lends itself perfectly to product virality. People are incentivised to spread awareness of your product in order to get the ‘group buy’ discount – the more people purchase your product, the higher your product is ranked, further driving sales.

Marketers can leverage the app by advertising group-buy discounts on WeChat, featuring your product on Pinduoduo’s ‘Special Deals’ page and further enticing buyers with complimentary gifts to go with their purchase, all of which help encourage user sharing.


Douyin is the Chinese version of Tik Tok, it is another mobile app that has rapidly soared to the top of the download charts in China.

It’s also grown worldwide, with 45 million downloads in the first quarter of 2018 making it the most downloaded app in that period.

Douyin is a short video app, reminiscent of Vine, where users can create and share fun and interesting clips, making it an indispensable tool for marketers aiming to capture the attention of younger audiences​​​​. The app's sophisticated algorithm personalises content for users, ensuring high visibility for branded content that resonates with their interests.

It is particularly popular among young people, with around a third of users aged between 20–24 years old. Douyin’s audience is also predominantly female, with around two thirds of the userbase being women. This makes the platform perfect for brands who want to reach out to young, affluent women.

Douyin gives businesses the opportunity to create quirky and playful marketing campaigns that encourage sharing and user-generated content. Pizza Hut, for example, spread awareness by creating custom branded stickers, which users could use to accessorise their clips. According to Shichangbu, the videos featuring Pizza Hut’s stickers accumulated over 1 million views.

There is also an opportunity for brands to link with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), who feature heavily on the platform. Although KOLs are a bit more expensive and therefore require a bigger budget, it is a close-to-guaranteed way of getting brand recognition, as users will surely remember their favourite idols using your product.

Little Redbook

Called XiaoHongShu in Chinese, only in name is Little Redbook similar to Chairman Mao’s book of statements and speeches.

Instead, this app focuses on eCommerce shopping for luxury brands like Guess, Dior and many more.

Unsurprisingly, Little Redbook’s target audience are women aged 18-35 in higher-tiered cities who are looking for products, particularly beauty products (including supplements), which are harder to find in local stores.

But it isn’t all about buying in this app – sales are driven by community recommendations, as users and KOLs discuss and recommend which products are worth getting, so a positive recommendation will almost certainly lead to an increase in sales. Like Pinduoduo, therefore, Little Redbook also has a strong social component.

Brands can gain more visibility on the site by creating content for popular hashtags, which will help them feature on the ‘Explore’ section where users tend to spend a lot of time. Informative content is particularly appreciated by this demographic – you could, for example, demonstrate the ways in which a product can be used, or do product reviews or comparisons to help users make informed purchases.

It’s also important to be responsive on this platform – users regularly ask questions about products, so being reactive and helpful can help cement the relationship between your brand and Little Redbook users.


A super app that's indispensable in China, WeChat stands as the cornerstone of any digital strategy in China. Not just as a messaging app but as a platform that encapsulates e-commerce, social media, news, and more within a single ecosystem. Its "mini-programs" functionality allows brands to create sub-applications within WeChat, offering services from e-commerce to loyalty programs without the need for users to leave the app​​​​. For brands, this means an opportunity to craft a seamless user journey, from awareness through to purchase and loyalty, all within the WeChat ecosystem.

Sina Weibo

Often referred to as China's answer to Twitter, Sina Weibo or Weibo for short, is a powerful microblogging platform. Weibo offers a dynamic platform for brand storytelling and engagement, with its user base exceeding 600 million. The platform's multimedia capabilities, including video, images, and live streaming, coupled with the viral nature of hashtags, provide a fertile ground for campaigns aiming to increase brand visibility and engage with a wide audience​​.

Weibo users primarily use the app to stay updated on trending news. It is a popular channel for Chinese netizens to get the latest updates on celebrities, as many entertainment companies often publish news there first and celebrities can use the platform to connect directly with their fans. Additionally, marketers leverage Weibo to gauge the interests and sentiments of Chinese consumers.

Utilising Weibo for KOL collaborations or to host interactive campaigns can amplify your brand’s message. Optimising your Weibo posts for Chinese search engines can enhance visibility, as they can also be indexed on Baidu to boost traffic.


Kuaishou offers a unique proposition in the realm of short-video platforms by prioritising content that's more authentic and reflective of everyday life, as opposed to the polished and often aspirational content found on Douyin. This focus on authenticity has allowed Kuaishou to carve out a significant niche, appealing particularly to audiences outside of China's first-tier cities. The platform's user base appreciates the genuine connection with content creators, making it an ideal space for brands looking to foster a sense of community and real engagement. By leveraging Kuaishou, brands can showcase the more relatable, human aspects of their identity, engaging users through storytelling that resonates with their daily experiences and values.


This Chinese video-sharing platform known for its live-streaming and video-streaming services hosting a variety of content including anime, music, dance, and more. The platform also encourages active viewer participation through its unique comment system, where users' comments fly across the screen. This interactive experience has cultivated a dedicated and engaged community, making Bilibili an attractive platform for brands looking to tap into the youth market with creative and niche content. Marketers can engage with this vibrant community by aligning with their interests and values.


Zhihu offers a platform for intellectual exchange and knowledge sharing, reminiscent of Quora, but tailored to a Chinese audience. It allows users to ask questions and get answers from the community, including experts and thought leaders.

For brands, Zhihu represents an opportunity to establish authority in their field by contributing insightful answers to user queries. By engaging in the Zhihu community, brands can showcase their expertise, build trust with potential customers, and increase their visibility among a highly educated and inquisitive audience. This strategic engagement not only enhances brand reputation but also drives informed discussions around products and services, influencing purchasing decisions.

Tencent Video

As China's leading video streaming platform, Tencent Video caters to a vast audience with its extensive library of movies, TV shows, and original content. The platform's popularity offers unparalleled opportunities for brands to reach consumers through branded content and advertising. By leveraging Tencent Video's sophisticated targeting capabilities, brands can deliver their messages to specific demographics, enhancing the effectiveness of their advertising efforts and engaging users in a format they love. is China’s largest classified site and operates mainly in the O2O (Online to Offline) field locally but also internationally, with offices in around the world (they even have seven in Australia).

By having such a global base, connects Chinese users internationally with all types of features.

Not only can you buy second-hand products, but you can also order services, place job ads, submit resumes, book hotels or tours, or even rent or purchase property in foreign cities.

This makes this platform a perfect way to target Chinese communities in your area, as well as Chinese tourists and migrants interested in visiting or moving to your area., for example, often has a section dedicated to overseas education, providing classifieds for study agencies, language schools and vocational training centres.

Education and tourism brands should therefore ensure they’re not just visible on the platform, but that their information is up to date, and that their product/service description speaks directly to their target market.

By understanding how to leverage these hugely popular Chinese apps, marketers can gain even more exposure to their target audience, helping to drive sales and giving them a distinct competitive edge.

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