Digital Marketing in China: Cases of Wechat(微信)

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I explained some strategies in digital marketing using Wechat before, so now I will introduce some cases of Wechat digital marketing.

(Please see bellow for the previous article)

Now, the application most Chinese companies are putting their effort towards might be the Wechat official account. As I introduce before, letting users sign up for an official account is a great way to regularly broadcast advertisements or campaign information to its users.

Therefore, many companies are now using various interesting ways to attract more users. I introduce those strategies below:

Traditional method

Free or discount offer

This is a strategy commonly used by shops and restaurants.

Customers can get a discount or free service after subscribing to the company’s official Wechat account. For example:

IPPUDO (Japan’s famous noodle chain doing business in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, etc.)

You can get a free serving of noodle after you registration with the official Wechat account

MINISO(Japanese style reasonable general store. Seems headquartered in Japan, but …)

You can get a free plastic bag after you register with the official Wechat account.

* Plastic bags are not free in China (usually around 1 nickel)

Offer additional functions (ex. Loyalty Card, etc.)

Actually, an official Wechat account not only has the function of broadcasting messages, but also various functions that each company can customize by themselves. For example:

  • Loyalty Card
  • Membership discount
  • Search shop location

Handing out QR code(Handing out flyer style)

This is often seen since 2015.

Similar to handing out flyers, a staff who holds the QR code for subscription asks passers-by to register for an official Wechat account. Users who subscribe to the official account can get a free product related to the company (foods, beverages, or toys).

I often saw this at “Shangdi station” (close to Baidu HQs) or “Wangjing station” in Beijing, where there are many IT companies.

Furthermore, this is a bit of an annoying way to advertise, but I also often saw staff asking passengers to scan the QR code on a subway.

However, personally, I think these campaigns must be unsustainable because most people will cancel subscription right after registration, so customer conversion rate must be extremely low.

Creative method

Industrial Affiliates

This is a case that one company cooperate with another company in a different industry.

The following image shows the table at a noodle restaurant in Beijing.

There is an ad for a travel agency on the tablecloth, and there is a QR code for that travel agency’s Wechat official account on the left. If you follow the Wechat account, you can get a free beverage (coke or sprite).


This is an interesting marketing case that connects company who want to advertise (travel agency) and company who want to make money through ad (noodle restaurant).

I’m still wondering how customers for noodle restaurant and potential customers for travel agency overlap. However, this ad might attract customers during the waiting time of foods, so I think it’s not bad.

Official Account Subscription Robot

This is the automatic subscription method that uses robots to offer free services or products to users. Here are two examples.

Polaroid pictures Robot

“Beijing Chao Shenghua (北京潮生活)” developed a unique robot that was designed to lure customers into signing up for an official Wechat account.

2016-02-08 15.32.44 HDR

Customers can get a free polaroid picture by following the steps below:

  1. Follow the Wechat account of “北京潮生活”
  2. Send your picture via Wechat
  3. Input the robot ID on Wechat
  4. Print out your picture from robot after 10 several seconds

You can see this in cities with a large youth demographic such as “Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷)” in Beijing.

Beverage Robot(飲品机器人)

This robot is introduced on the popular start-up investment TV program “创业英雄汇“.

Screenshot 2016-02-27 14.21.42

The steps are basically the same as the polaroid picture robot, except this robot offers free coffee instead of a free picture. They are currently being used at hospitals and gas stations in Beijing.

Marketing Mixing with Entertainment

There are many interesting market plans that have been mixing with entertainment. Here, I introduce a marketing strategy exemplified by the “Chimelong International Circus (长隆大马戏)”, the most famous circus in China.

They utilize the waiting time before the show starts, by asking their audience sign up for a  Wechat account.

  1. Broadcast a message asking customers to use “Shake” function on their Wechat while waiting for the show to start.
  2. Find the circus’s Wechat official account through “Shake”
  3. Follow the official account
  4. Your profile picture is displayed on the front big screen.
  5. Among customers, a few can get special gifts by lot

2016-01-19 18.51.45

This circus is extremely popular, so you need to come 2 hours earlier before the show starts in order to get a better seat in the front ( or buy VIP ticket). Chimelong utilizes this waiting time, by taking this opportunity to attract more customers. This is an interesting win-win case.

Extra: “Shake” Advertisement

This is another digital marketing example apart from the official Wechat account.

During the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), some companies do their digital marketing through the most famous TV show “New Year’s Gala (春晚)”.

  1. On the TV show, they broadcast a message that encourages the audience to “Shake” on their Wechat at the appointed times.
  2. Audience shake on their Wechat at one of the appointed time.
  3. Find the link of the Advertisement and new year gift (紅包)
  4. Click the link and get randomized free money (e.g. 30 cents of the image below)

2016-02-07 22.30.36 2016-02-07 22.31.18

This marketing campaign was conducted at the end of 2015 on the Chinese calendar, and there was 11 billion accessed accounts in total and 800 million accessed per minute at its peak time. I’m curious about their IT backbone and how they manage such a huge amount of traffic.

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