Founded in 2011 as a GIF sharing APP, Kuaishou is one of China’s hottest short video platforms & livestreaming social e-commerce apps. Following on from my post about Bilibili, I’d like to look at using Kuaishou for China marketing for your brand. I’ll also look at Zhihu & Toutiao in later posts.
Whilst almost everyone in Europe or the US has heard of Douyin (TikTok), Kuaishou only came to public attention really in February this year when their Hong Kong IPO raised $5.3 billion. Around 21% of the company belongs to Tencent (owner of WeChat and backer of JD.com).
Until now Kuaishou (the 2nd largest short video platform with 302 million daily users) wasn’t especially a place for imported brands to market their products, however in my opinion that is changing and the potential is increasing.
Kuaishou started with short videos in 2015 and has taken a more down to earth approach than their (in the west) most famous rival Douyin. Whilst Douyin positions themselves as a leader in fashion trends and showing “the good life”, Kuaishou subscribes to the principle that every life is worth recording.
Consequently, Kuaishou has focused in the past on everyday life for consumers in tier 3 cities downwards and encourages all kinds of original lifestyle videos, such as picking fruit or cooking. And of course, they have huge livestream sales.
Comparison with Douyin
So what are the similarities to Douyin?
Both platforms offer short videos, with vertical screen browsing. These videos can be made with music, & the focus is on mainly user-generated content (UGC). Actually, a lot of videos are uploaded onto both platforms.
In a similar way to Douyin, Kuaishou also uses user engagement and other data to personalise their recommendations for users using AI. After registration, you can follow others and view videos from the same city as where you are. The system can record user habits and customise recommendations for you
What are the differences?
Kuaishou doesn’t automatically play in full screen mode, but displays 4 videos on one page. The video only starts to play once you click to enter (Douyin video plays automatically without the user needing to click anything). The Kuaishou style makes it easier for users to find the video themes they like.
Kuaishou content is more related to daily life than to the celebrity lifestyles often displayed in Douyin videos. The largest proportion of the users are concentrated in third- and fourth-tier cities. The Kuaishou platform does not invite celebrities on a large scale, so it is more suited to brand operators who focus is on ordinary users who create original videos.
As mentioned above, the brand philosophy and image is a completely different one to that of Douyin, being far more rooted in reality rather than “aspirational” content or unrealistically luxurious lifestyles.
Also, compared to Douyin the ecommerce capability on Kuaishou is stronger and better established.
As Kuaishou users are mainly in lower tier cities, they have more time available in the day and this is reflected in the fact that users spend (even) more time in the app (85 mins+/day) than Douyin users.
Methods for using Kuaishou for China marketing
Pay for advertising
This is the most common marketing method, as with most platforms – you pay for your brand exposure. 101 of marketing – make sure you have laser sharp segmentation to ensure you get the most effective use of your money.
This can be the product or the logo, either as a kind of sponsor or by being spoken about by the KOL or of course in your own brand videos.
As with say Bilibili or other platforms, you can also use KOL influence to reach the larger audience that are the fans, by selecting celebrities that match the brand or product. At the same time, KOL partnerships stimulate more engagement by users.
Native content customisation
Content customisation mainly involves related product content. Compared with long videos, short video customised marketing content pays more attention to stories and plots, typically surrounding the brand product.
How do Sales work on the Kuaishou platform?
Kuaishou’s live-streaming e-commerce business is around 1 year behind the same function on Taobao in size, making them a significant player in the space. Livestreaming is mostly for agribusiness (think seafood, fruits) and products used in daily life eg air-conditioners, water filters. So for example, some KOLs film themselves fishing in order to demonstrate the freshness of their products.
Cooperation with Jingdong
Since last year, Kuaishou has a cooperation with JD.com which added further impetus to their ecommerce capability.
KOLs (many of whom have their own store on Kuaishou) can select products from the JD range and link those to the video platform. The cooperation between the two platforms means that anyone purchasing the goods can benefit from JD’s excellent logistics (often 1 day delivery) and customer support.
The project also includes elements of brand marketing and data sharing, helping to make the purchase experience even more seamless for consumers. This powerful ecommerce capability means that some experts believe marketing Kuaishou could be the future of reaching your audience in China.
‘Kaishou Xiaodian’ is a merchant function launched within the app, which aims to provide convenient sales services for Kuaishou users, and efficiently convert their traffic into revenue.
Update: Introduction Cross-Border Sales Functionality!
On 16th May 2021 Kuaishou released its cross-border e-commerce (CBEC) regulations, implying an imminent launch of its CBEC business. The first-stage business will only open access to four categories: cosmetics, food, clocks & watches, and luxury products. The rules for merchants on the platform have been released as well as the guidelines for doing business.
Initially, CBEC on the platform will be by invitation only, with priority being given to brands who are new to the Chinese market for Cross Border E-Commerce. Here’s a short summary from the Merchants rules:
- Requirements for business entities
(1) Business entities who enter must have an overseas business entity, Hong Kong (China), Macau (China), or Taiwan (China), and have overseas retail or trade qualifications;
(2) Business entities who enter must have the subject of joint liability in mainland China, ie a domestic agent;
(3) Business entities who enter must have an overseas corporate bank account, or a corporate bank account in Hong Kong, Macao, or Taiwan.
- Priority business entities
(1) Priority is given to overseas, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan brands, brand agents, and well-known brands that have not entered the Chinese market;
(2) Priority is given to e-commerce teams with experience in cross-border e-commerce operations.
- Entry process
The business entity can entry the platform through one of the two methods: platform invitation and voluntary application. For now, the platform will be invitation only.
The platform currently opens access for four categories: cosmetics & personal care, food, clocks & watches, and luxury products.
Who are the users?
Most Kuaishou users are young people (91.7% are under the age of 35, 50.8% male. Source Baidu) from lower tiers cities with limited financial resources. They’re also looking to upgrade to a higher quality life at an affordable price point. 69% of users would like to gain additional knowledge on the app and are willing to pay if it’s interesting or if they can really learn something useful. This has lead to Kuaishou cooperating with Zhihu (this is a knowledge platform, rather like Quora).
Users have frequent interactions with KOLs and have an extremely high degree of trust in them.
What are my recommendations for imported brands looking to increase their impact using Kuaishou?
It’s still early days for imported brands on Kuaishou, as users are often looking for lower priced products. However, the platform is targeting an increased user base this year and as mentioned, users are keen to “upgrade their life” as long as the price is reasonable.
Right now, you still get more for your money with Kuaishou
Certainly advertising and brand marketing on Kuaishou is more reasonably priced than Taobao livestream or Xiaohongshu, making it cheaper to grow your consumer base here than elsewhere. You can use the platform to increase your brand awareness as well as driving sales.
Think carefully about KOLs – they can make (but also break) your brand
As with all social commerce platforms, it’s essential that IF you choose to cooperate with a KOL they must fit your brand. That way they can recommend your products during livestreams.
Content is king…
To market in China, means to publish huge amounts of your own content and Kuaishou is certainly no exception to that. So be sure to publish high quality creative short videos to prompt purchases by having direct purchase buttons in the video. That means that you need to engage an agency who can transcreate your brand message for the Chinese market, or have an in-house team (locally in China) if you’re thinking of using Kuaishou for China marketing.
Get your consumers involved
To drive brand loyalty and awareness you can run UGC campaigns, encouraging users to interact with your brand. Eg a campaign asking users to create videos using your products and use your tag to raise awareness of what your brand stands for.
Don’t forget your ad spend
Of course, you need to reserve some of your budget to buy newsfeed ads to reach your target audience. This is the “simplest” form of advertisement as long as you have super laser focused consumer segmentation for the Chinese market.
Ideally you should be creating content that taps into what your Kuaishou users already enjoy. You need to turn a promotion or product placement into content that’s genuinely engaging or rewarding for your target audience if you want to be successful using Kuaishou for China marketing.
As with any other platform or tool in China you need to use the tool in the correct way and integrate it with your existing China strategy.
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