China Marketing Insights 5

AsureQuality’s China Marketing Insight Series #5

in Assurance Marks
Author: Pamela Whitfield

Welcome to AsureQuality’s China Marketing Insight Series

This is the fifth in the series of our insights and learnings around the China marketing calendar.(external link)

In this edition, we cover:

  • WeChat Mini Programs in your China marketing strategy
  • New generations of consumers
  • A changing landscape for celebrity and (KOLs)
  • Supply-chain snarls and consumer behaviour adjustments
  • Team News: Introducing Our New Assurance Marks Manager!

The role of WeChat Mini Programs in your China marketing strategy

WeChat continues to grow and is becoming a rising challenger(external link) for the sector’s biggest players, including Alibaba,, and Pinduoduo. Much of this growth is attributable to mini programs, which tend to have more impact than traditional ecommerce platforms, allowing for stronger loyalty and customer relationship marketing. 

While some brands are focusing on short video apps, WeChat, and Mini Programs in particular, are still an important tool in a China marketing strategy(external link) . Many international brands, including brands from New Zealand, are implementing campaigns on WeChat, with the number of overseas merchants selling on Mini Programs increasing by 268% over the past two years. The number of daily active users of WeChat Mini Programs, which give users instant access to enterprise services, exceeded 450 million as of the end of 2021. This is an increase in the daily use of Mini Programs of 32%. The frequency of use increased over 30%. More impressively, the number of users paying for things through Mini Programs soared 80% last year.

The Mini Program has been a popular way for many small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to digitalise their business, particularly during the pandemic. The number of active Mini Programs increased by 41% in 2021 compared to the previous year, with the majority of these being SMEs. Many industries that were heavily impacted by the pandemic such as catering, tourism, and retail, made the move online via WeChat Mini Programs. Although Tencent hasn’t yet announced the value of transactions through Mini Programs, they noted it had increased “significantly” from 2020’s US$250 billion(external link) .

Using WeChat to verify brand attributes via trusted endorsement

The AsureQuality official WeChat account provides Chinese consumers an official and convenient way to view a brand’s trusted endorsement and learn about the brands verified attributes and supply chain details. We roll out AQ Assured brand stories and technical articles to help build trust and deliver a superior level of assurance in the complex China market. This WeChat account also informs Chinese consumers about AsureQuality’s independent New Zealand Government testimony of brand credentials. On our official WeChat account, Chinese consumers can learn about AsureQuality, AQ Assured Transparency Program, and AQ Assured products.

Search our WeChat ID: AsureQuality_NZ or scan the QR code below to explore the China market with us:

New Generations of Consumers influencing the market

Emerging demand from young Chinese

The growing power of younger Chinese(external link) is becoming more evident with the number of shoppers born after 2000 growing more than 70% on Alibaba’s cross-border marketplace Tmall Global in the 12 months ended March 2021. Young Chinese are adopting flexitarian, vegetarian, and vegan diets in record numbers, and sales of plant-based meat(external link)  booming, with major food and beverage chains including McDonald’s, KFC, and Starbucks introducing alternative meat products into their Chinese stores.(external link)

Senior Chinese consumers

As highlighted in a 2020 census,(external link) there are more than 264 million people aged 60 or over in China, which accounts for 18.7% of the population. As there is increasing importance to understanding senior consumers’ behaviour, Taobao is becoming more senior-friendly by releasing a fresh interface on their shopping app with larger text and icons, simplified navigation, and voice-assisted technology. According to Taobao’s platform’s 2021 Senior Shopping Habits Report, senior consumers are interested in health-related products(external link) . Data shows that they are more likely to purchase supplements like goji berries and black sesame bowls when compared to younger consumer groups. However, they are still following the trends, buying popular items including disposable face towels and gloss lipsticks.


A changing landscape for celebrity and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)

While the celebrity and KOL culture continue to grow and yield good results for brands in the China market, the government is changing the landscape(external link) . In 2021, China’s internet watchdog took actions on celebrity fan clubs, preventing them from abusing and manipulating public opinion. With over 150,000 pieces of online content that were deemed harmful being moved, China Skinny pointed out that this may also impact the power of using celebrities as brand ambassadors in the future.


China is also targeting on celebrities who have been charged for tax evasion over the past year. Recently, the popular Chinese actor Deng Lun was fined 25.1 million USD for tax evasion(external link) . At the end of last year, China’s top live streamer Viya, one of the most trusted KOL’s, was fined(external link) $210 million USD because of tax evasion. She reached sales of $1.3 billion USD during the last 11/11 shopping festival. With the ongoing operation focusing on tax evasion, many celebrities are voluntarily paying tax to avoid negative impacts on their careers.


Supply-chain snarls and consumer behaviour adjustments

Factors including the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and evolving gender politics are rebuilding consumer behaviour in China market. As a result of sky-high container prices and backlogs at shipping ports, Euromonitor International suggests that the supply-chain snarls continue to grow in 2022(external link) . In a speech at the World Economic Forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out that these are also influencing the economy(external link) . He urged nations to come together to explore ways to secure global trade routes and smooth supply chains.


While products fail to deliver, Logistics companies and retailers are exploring innovative ways attract consumers. Recently, Cainiao equipped its smart warehouses with full-chain logistics services to help sellers send products internationally. To save energy for the last-mile delivery, Cainiao also uses AI-powered smart order consolidation to deliver parcels to a single address at one time. In addition, to free consumers from looking for their go-to items in empty shopping aisles, Alibaba’s Taocaicai announced(external link) its subscription services and community group buying sites, helping consumers source products for the first time.

AsureQuality’s Assurance Marks team works in partnership with New Zealand brands to build enduring trust in the China market and support them by delivering a superior level of trusted assurance.

Team news: Introducing Our New Assurance Marks Manager!

After many years of being AsureQuality’s Assurance Marks Manager, I’ve now been appointed to another role within AsureQuality – as our Integrated Assurance Manager. This is an exciting new role with new challenges for me, but I’ll continue to work closely with the Assurance Marks team too. I am very pleased to be handing the reigns for Assurance Marks over to the very capable and lovely Kellee.

Kellee and I have been working closely together over the past few months and I’ve witnessed her knowledge and enthusiasm for the value that Assurance Marks delivers for our customers. She’s a real asset to our team, and you’ll be in great hands.

Kellee Henton

Kellee has been with AsureQuality working as a Key Account Manager and has recently moved into the role of Assurance Marks Manager. She has a background in marketing and chemistry and is passionate about supporting customers to achieve their goals in the global and domestic market. Kellee has a genuine interest in helping people and is excited about her new role where she can make a real difference to food businesses wanting to tell their stories and differentiate their brand in an increasingly complex global market.

Free consultation with personalised solutions

We support brands with claim substantiation, verification, and via co-marketing activities that deliver trusted assurance, building consumer confidence, engagement, and sales. 

You can book a free 15-minute consultation(external link)  to discuss how to leverage AsureQuality's NZ Government-owned independent food assurance expertise within your China marketing mix.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Kellee and our team of experts.

If you’ve missed previous issues of our China Marketing Insight Series, you can find them here(external link) .

You may find it helpful to follow our official WeChat account where you can explore more case studies, technical information, and market insights in Chinese. Just simply search our WeChat ID: AsureQuality_NZ

We look forward to sharing more with you soon!


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