The approach of brands in China to Covid-19 has been special, and companies have had to adapt. But each crisis makes the businesses that survive stronger. China has had a huge advantage, having been about 3 months ahead of the rest of the world in its recovery from Covid-19 …


As its economy begins to open, companies that have shown resilience at the height of the crisis share an essential characteristic: they have made digital a central point for each point of contact in their activity.

They have thus acquired the capacity to:

  • Communicate effectively with their employees and customers;
  • Rapidly deploy products and services;
  • Create and collaborate on ideas and solutions;
  • Mobilize parts of their supply chain and, most importantly, respond to the data.

The power of digital technology in marketing at a time like this does not lie in posting new videos to YouTube or using Instagram.

It’s about maintaining a strong bond between the customer and the business and using the knowledge gained through engagement to deliver the products and services that people need.

There are three lessons learned from the marketing recovery cookbook for some of the top brands in China. Stay alert to the rest of the article:

  • Keep customers out of sight, but not out of reach ;
  • Make shopping a social event that brings value ;
  • Make logistics a key part of the customer experience.

What they demonstrated during the pandemic should prompt marketers around the world to reconsider what brands can do and what marketing can be.

It is ironic that shopping can be social when we are isolated, but social commerce is growing in China.

Keep customers out of sight, but not out of reach

The deployment of measures to protect the health and well-being of customers has been the top priority of major brands.

At the height of the pandemic, this meant closed stores, limited service and frequent messages on the label of social distancing. Fortunately, for resilient brands, reminders to stay at home did not mean staying away.

Application-based communication has been a central part of the marketing strategy of many large Chinese companies, with the aim of being accessible and connected wherever you are.

Yum China, for example, has invested heavily in its digital strategy since 2015 and has increased the number of its digital members to 230 million.

The company offers services such as:

  • Pre-order and table order;
  • The online queue;
  • Delivery and payment, electronic gifts and media.

Its centralized platform has also enabled it to launch new products and services with relative speed, economy and flexibility.

From personalized menus to home cooking kits, to corporate dining services and contactless solutions, communication with millions of people has been made easier by centralizing the customer database.

Healthcare companies also saw their sales increase, as the Chinese over-consumed dietary supplements and other drugs during this period. Health has become essential for households in major Chinese cities.

Make shopping a social event that brings value

It is ironic that shopping can be social when we are isolated, but social commerce is growing in China.

The concept is slightly in resonance with that proposed by Groupon, that is to say to offer wholesale sales through social networks. But when Groupon looks at value through the lens of products and services, in China, the real value is in the network.

Pinduoduo (PDD) is one of the leading social trading companies in China. Created in 2015, it is worth $ 50 billion and belongs to Tencent, owner of WeChat, which is used by a billion people.

PDD does not only sell the usual suspicious cosmetics and TVs. But in response to the economic impact of Covid-19, PDD partners with farmers in rural areas to sell its products.

Source: Statista

In Yunnan Province, PDD has engaged in 100 agricultural projects. He will also train 5,000 rural talents to specialize in e-commerce and create 100 brands of agricultural products.

As recession and unemployment force people to re-evaluate spending, we may see social trade grow.

PDD is the most popular in China among low-income people who live in second or third tier cities.

In the West, e-commerce is mainly aimed at the middle and upper classes, Kantar having calculated that the average income of a buyer in the Amazon is around 84,449 dollars.

Make logistics a key part of the customer experience

From January 26 to March 10, 2020, more than 200,000 business owners are said to have opened accounts with Alibaba’s food delivery service,

According to Alipay’s figures, ten of the most popular online fresh food delivery programs on its platform received three times more revenue than in the run-up to the epidemic.

Reflecting the demand for delivery services, the Meituan-Dianping e-commerce platform said that nearly 30% of restaurants surveyed have started delivery services in response to the pandemic. In addition, almost half of the restaurants surveyed say they derive more than 70% of their revenue from delivery.

Integrating delivery capacity through third-party logistics partners has helped many companies to mitigate some revenue losses.

For businesses, this means providing one-click pickup, delivery and courier services. It also means that the status of last-mile delivery is high in the overall customer experience hierarchy.

Starbucks, in collaboration with Alibaba, has been exploring self-service kiosks in supermarkets since 2018.

Coffee orders are placed through an app. Coffee is made in a store kitchen and the buyer can pick up their coffee at an unmanned station in 15 minutes. This type of contactless delivery will likely be more common in the future.

In conclusion

The Covid-19 has forced the digitization of the Chinese economy and is currently showing us how to boost consumption. Digital marketing seems to solve the biggest problems that cause the virus, social distancing, containment and logistical problems.