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How to use China’s fastest-growing 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 apps have even been challenging China’s stable giants like Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu.

In this article, we’ll take a quick look at four of China’s fastest-growing apps, 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 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 known globally as Tik Tok, recently merged with the western app, which you might have heard of before. Douyin is another 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.

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. 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 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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