Old VS New Techniques for Marketing in China

In China everything is moving very quickly, changes are long to come but their implementation is often faster than in the West. 

Take the example of the restaurant sector. It had almost no change for years until trendy restaurants were created right in front of small family restaurants where people ate on plastic tables in bowls. 

Another example even more obvious: the payment system. China has moved from cash payments to online payments almost without going through the era of massive possession of credit cards that still mainly used in the West.

The real estate sector is also a sector that has been revolutionized, new modern and extravagant buildings continue to emerge from everywhere alongside the Soviet remains of the 1980s. 

From restaurants and buildings to fully dematerialized payment systems, China is modernizing much faster than any country has ever done before.

The consequences of such a rapid change

All these changes are so rapid that the old and the new can coexist in harmony for a long time. 

On the roads, mopeds and scooters travel alongside gigantic airways just next to the new luxurious cars. 

Like lifestyle habits and business practices, marketing tactics have evolved so rapidly that old techniques have not yet retired.

Some old marketing tactics that have completely disappeared in the West are still in practice in China, alongside the new modern practices that are developing rapidly. 

Technical marketing monitoring still in force in China 

Door-to-door sales 

It is still very common for sellers to enter offices without being solicited with leaflets they distribute, whether in the real estate or education sectors.

Chinese salespeople are less trained in the art of persuasive argumentation, the standard protocol and therefore to enter companies directly and introduce the product or service and then take advantage of a handshake to give a flyer. 

According to some employees in China, this marketing technique is still used in many office buildings in China. 

Stencil advertising 

Office buildings have long been a constant target for door-to-door salesmen. Unlike apartment buildings, which are almost inaccessible. Security doors bolted and monitored doors by guards are respected in China. People in Shanghai or Beijing are no longer used to inviting vendors for a cup of tea. 

Small business operators, inventive, have found a new way to get around the problem. Rather than targeting hostile security doors or supervisors, they decided to target unprotected corridors. 

The virgin concrete corridors of residential buildings offer a good opportunity for free stencil advertising.

Plumbers, electricians and locksmiths in the region are the main users. These makeshift billboards often go unnoticed by residents until the day they leave their keys inside after closing the door or their shower pipes explode. 

The Wagon & Megaphone approach 

In most Chinese suburbs, there is a local company that advertises with a car and a megaphone. This can range from portable fruit stands to vehicles carrying household appliances. 

Mornings and weekends are the most appropriate times to conduct these marketing campaigns because residents are more likely to be free and not working: they are either at home or out for a walk.

This is when the screaming megaphone comes into play: the trick is to pre-record a marketing ad and then let the megaphone run in a loop. 

Older residents are generally the first to react to these announcements. 

Although the megaphone car combination still widely used in China is a sure way to attract attention, it is an old marketing tactic that will tend to disappear very soon.

Mass advertising in China

A number of factors have led China to adopt instant messaging applications. Stickers, online payments and free voice mail have all played their part in the new mass advertising.

Another alternative appeared: an SMS inbox overloaded with notifications and spam advertising. In China, annoying messages are daily and sometimes every hour, it is obvious that they must work.

New marketing practices in China

The Online-to-off line

In the past, traditional companies limited their activities to their location. The only way to increase the size of their clientele was to invest in flyers or leaflets to distribute to make themselves known. The shift from offline to online display has changed all that. Companies can now reach new customers thanks to new technologies and online platforms such as Meituan-Dianping.

Companies can now streamline their operations, including their reservation system and online payments, and access a new source of much larger and geographically dispersed customers. 


Instead of disturbing people at home or distributing flyers, a new form of visible advertising in China, as in the West, advertising is now being broadcast live as a new form of entertainment. 

In the West, the trend is for news ads on TV channels, in China it is mainly demonstrations of streaming products that work.

Personalities who advertise online are often influential bloggers who manage to build a committed community and captivate their audience. To do this, they offer them products in real time, which they test in front of millions of users.

The audience is also captivated because it is entitled to explanatory videos and even increasingly sophisticated demonstrations. This allows users to ensure that the product they want is of good quality and to give them new ideas for consumption.  

This live streaming industry is already widely used by ready-to-wear, cosmetics and new technology brands. 

Other industries, such as real estate, are beginning to develop streaming video ads to connect Chinese buyers with properties on the other side of the world. 

Online platforms

Online platforms remain the best way to reach consumers when they are at home and connected. With more than 800 million Chinese Internet users, this marketing trend is now the most widely used in China. 

Whether you register your product on an e-commerce site or in your own micro shop, Chinese e-commerce platforms remain the best way to start a profitable business and reach new customers.

Establishing an online presence remains the key to boosting the confidence of Chinese consumers, who all use the Internet as a main source of information before consuming a product. 

It is really used in Health Marketing

Data-driven advertising

Rather than spamming an entire audience without even targeting them, as is the case with mass advertising, companies can now adapt their promotions to specific and previously targeted consumers. With cloud-enhanced Big Data capabilities, advertisers can make recommendations to users based on their location, search history and past buying behavior.

Companies can also analyze visitor behavior using analytical tools to optimize their website.

As we can see, many things are evolving and modernizing rapidly in China. Others remain unchanged and blend into the country’s new modern and developed landscapes. 

For example, old marketing methods are still being used in China. 

However, new tactics offer the most effective and quickest way to expand your business and stay ahead of the competition.

Need help getting into the Chinese market?

 Entering the Chinese market through social networks remains the most effective way to promote it (Weibo, WeChat, Tmall, JD.com). 

Gentlemen Marketing Agency is a Shanghai-based digital marketing agency that helps foreign brands establish themselves in China by offering you marketing strategies tailored to your needs and targets.  

Our team is up to date on all the latest marketing trends in China and uses all the most effective digital tools to promote your business in China.


  • Fast evolution is certainly one of the main characteristics of China.

    Thanks for this article, it’s really surprising to see how much promoting a product or service changed in this country. From the wagon approach to the online platforms, two opposite worlds! New techs allow many brands, even the smallest ones, to reach an audience they would never have reached without it!

  • What is the best Chinese plateform for live streaming in China? Do you have a report on the best Kols for Chinese Kols?

    • Hello Lise,

      Yes, we do have a list of Kols that work with us and their pricing.
      For live streaming platform it really depends on your goal.
      Taobao and Kuaishou are doing great.
      We have recently launched live streaming services and can assist company with their live campaign.

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