2021-01-06

"Douyin": The Chinese TikTok is increasingly becoming a marketing platform

Every day in China, more than 600* million people are active on the short-video and livestreaming app Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. This means: nearly half of the Chinese population use it every day. The large number of users and the fast transmission of information attract more and more companies to Douyin for branding and marketing. Among them are KION brands Linde MH, Baoli and Dematic in China, which have exceeded the expected results on the Chinese social media platform in a short period of time.

When Ma Minhui waits in line at the cashier or takes a bus to work, people around her are watching Douyin videos on their smartphones. Dynamic music, cool dance and funny content — each video lasts only 15 to 30 seconds, but very eye-catching and visually appealing. "The work pace in China is very fast and life is becoming increasingly stressful. People tend to compress their dwell time, which they use for entertainment but also for gathering information, more and more. Douyin meets these needs particularly well," believes Ma Minhui. The marketing manager has been working for more than ten years at the KION subsidiary Baoli in Jingjiang. She has been observing Douyin’s success for a long time now and has also noticed that the Chinese social media industry is constantly growing and becoming increasingly diverse.

Since its launch in 2016, Douyin has attracted a lot of attention because of the wide range of entertainment, fun and fast information transmission. Four years after its launch, the platform has become one of the most popular short-video apps in China. 40% of Douyin users live in China's megacities, 60% in cities and villages. The majority of the users are between 20 and 40 years old. In order to address this large and young group, which is an important consumer group in China, a large number of companies use Douyin for their marketing. These include KION brands Linde MH and Baoli, which opened their respective Douyin channels in October 2019 and March 2020. Since September 2020, the KION subsidiary Dematic, a leading provider of supply chain solutions, has also been using Douyin.

Address target groups where they are present

Linde MH, Baoli and Dematic have different branding and marketing needs due to their specific market positions and brand images. However, on the Douyin platform, they share a common goal: to reach a broader audience to further increase their brand awareness.

“We expect to strengthen our branding and marketing efforts at the mass level through Douyin," says Fu Wen, Marketing Manager at Linde MH in China. Baoli also sees significant advantages in its presence: "In remote regions where there are no Baoli dealers, people have no opportunity to learn about us. By leveraging the high dynamism of Douyin, we can also promote Baoli brand here," explains Ma Minhui.

Dematic is primarily interested in reaching different target groups: “We are active in many different industries and hope to reach our potential customers via this platform - no matter what industry they are in," emphasizes Guo Jun, Marketing Manager of Dematic China.

The three KION brands have pooled their resources to create short video clips on current topics or stories. So far, the various videos have been well received by the audience, stimulating discussions and generating resonance - whether it´s a topic about the differences in grocery shopping between people in the north and south of the country or a story to solve a customer´s problem. The results so far are correspondingly encouraging and exceed expectations: Linde MH (China) won 7,054 followers in one year and received around 61,000 likes. Baoli was followed by 4,449 followers in nine months and received 16,000 likes. The newcomer Dematic reached 7,801 followers in just three months and has received 11,000 likes to date.

“This is the best icebreaker for our salespeople”

In a second step, Linde MH and Baoli decided to place their marketing efforts in a very targeted manner. Thanks to the artificial intelligence and algorithms, Douyin can help brands promote to specific users, which allows brands to choose where they want their videos to be seen, such as a specific physical location.

During the Covid-19 epidemic in April 2020, Linde MH promoted its 1284 forklift on Douyin to 14 cities in the eastern province of Anhui where customers were particularly difficult to reach at that time. The two-week promotion brought 19 sales leads. At the beginning of August, another promotion of 1284 forklift was launched in 17 cities in Hubei Province where the logistics demand was already beginning to recover at that time. The ten-day promotion resulted in 20 sales leads. "We achieved very good branding results and sales opportunities at low cost. Marketing through Douyin is very cost-effective and worthwhile for us." Fu Wen notes.

Baoli’s poromotion for two new forklift trucks on Douyin at the end of August 2020 were also promising and generated a total of 100 sales leads. Another major success for Baoli is that the marketing activities on Douyin support the sales teams directly at the customers’ premises. One salesman shared his experience during a visit to a potential customer in a small county in Shandong Province: the customer immediately recognized the name Baoli because he had seen Baoli videos on Douyin. "This is the best icebreaker for our salespeople. It saves them a lot of efforts in pre-sales communication." Minghui Ma emphasizes.

Open to new possibilities, prepared for the future

Now the KION brands are planning to further intensify their Douyin marketing activities and explore new possibilities such as live streaming which directs online traffic to the e-commerce platforms. Linde MH is already in contact with e-commerce companies to assess the feasibility. "We want to try live streaming on Douyin, but we want to be fully prepared and wait for the right time," says Fu Wen.

Baoli works with a dealer distribution model and does not currently sell its products via live streaming. Nevertheless, the company is considering using live streaming to further promote the brand. For example, a live broadcast of the production hall would be possible to show the public how the assembly or refurbishing of forklifts works. Participation in live seminars organized by specific industries and associations to exchange information on intralogistics trends and share knowledge with users is also an option. Baoli also intends to offer support and guidance to some of its dealers who already use live streaming to sell forklift trucks.

Dematic is also open to live streaming. "Our solutions are tailored to the needs of our customers and are not necessarily suitable for online sales. However, during a live broadcast we can share our knowledge and expertise on the supply chain with our customers, as they are very interested in system solutions," explains Guo Jun.

Notes:

*As of August 2020, according to the report from ByteDance, the parent company of Douyin and Tik Tok, on September 15.

What is Douyin?

Douyin is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based internet company. The application allows users to create short music, lip-sync, dance, comedy and talent videos of 3 to 15 seconds, and short looping videos of 3 to 60 seconds. Its international counterpart is Tik Tok.

The main differences between Douyin and TikTok

• Douyin is only available in China. As of 2018, TikTok has been made available in over 150 markets, and in 75 languages.

• Douyin has a slightly older audience than TikTok, as its user base ranges from teenagers to middle-aged adults.

• Although Douyin and TikTok have similar features, Douyin has become more advanced than TikTok, particularly with respect to ecommerce.

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