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How understanding the Chinese consumer journey path can lead to more purchases in China

Understanding the journey of a Chinese consumer is crucial to building effective marketing strategies. The path Chinese consumers take is often different from that of other countries, meaning that marketers must consider how they can best connect with them at each stage of their journey.

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In the West, the consumer journey is often thought of as a linear process. It starts with awareness and ends with purchases. 
  • First, consumers will directly go to an e-commerce website, such as Amazon, or a brand's website with a specific item in mind.

  • Then they will narrow their search by categories, such as product, style, colour, size etc.

  • Last, purchase. The payment page is automatically completed with shipping and billing information to speed up the checkout process.

  • Done! The online shopping experience is quick, easy, and convenient.
But in China, the journey is circular — it begins and ends with the individual (interactions).
The Chinese consumer journey is also much more social than its Western counterpart. Social media is integral to how Chinese consumers interact with brands, so companies must be careful when they engage with customers on these platforms.
社交媒体 拷贝


1. Discovery & Awareness

Chinese consumers are often driven to try out new products and brands by encountering reviews or discussions on social media, either from UGCs (user-generated content) or influential bloggers. For example, they may discover a new brand/item from a makeup tutorial on Xiaohongshu, China's version of Pinterest, which is also an e-commerce platform.  

2. Evaluation

Social media plays a vital role in Chinese customers' evaluation process. They are likely to trust previous buyers or influencers and search for their reviews on social media, such as Xiaohongshu and Weibo, instead of going on search engines or the brand website.
Livestreaming has also become a powerful and effective tool for Chinese consumers to compare brands and their products. For example, when Chinese consumers are deciding which clothes or accessories to buy, they can search for products that were recently sold on Taobao as well as those that were live-streamed by influencers or online celebrities. For many Chinese consumers, watching a livestreamed video is much more effective than reading product reviews or talking with friends about their experiences with a particular brand as it saves a lot of time, and they can often make an immediate decision afterwards. 


3. Decision

Chinese consumers prefer to shop at brand flagship stores because of the wider selection and authenticity guarantee. They often purchase through the official stores on e-commerce platforms such as Taobao or JD and are less likely to purchase through the brand's website, which is different from the West. 
However, in recent years, this process has also been heavily influenced by social media as many social media platforms, such as Douyin and Xiaohongshu, have opened their own e-commerce marketplace, allowing brands to open flagship stores and letting customers discover, research and buy products within the platform.  

4. Post-sales Service

As China has a more developed e-commerce infrastructure than most in the West, Chinese consumers have higher expectations regarding post-sales services.

This includes short delivery times, immediate responses to inquiries, easy and flexible exchange and refund processes and policies etc.




5. Advocacy

Chinese customers like to share their product reviews after buying it, just as much as they rely on other people's opinions before making their purchase. This has further integrated social media and e-commerce into the consumer journey. Also, when a company can curate positive customer experiences, it can lead to repurchases and new purchases. 

Chinese consumers are increasingly digital, and their journey is constantly changing. E-commerce and social media are becoming more intertwined by the day. The most important thing for your success in China is to be familiar with the Chinese consumer journey. Brands need to understand how each stage affects their ability to engage with customers over time — and how they can adapt their marketing strategies accordingly. By understanding this concept, you can help you make well-informed decisions on how to reach your customers and how to use content and create more relevant messages for your target consumer.

In summary, you need to adapt your content marketing approach as you find where to target within the Chinese consumers' journey to have a greater impact on buying decisions. 

Contact Duhno to understand your audience consumer’s journey and create relevant content at each stage of their path.