As key markets within the Greater China region, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are considered mature, first world markets which have a number of technological and digital trends that represent them. As with many markets around the world, COVID-19 has had a strong impact, accelerating many digital trends over the past 12 months, meaning we’ve seen a significant change in how consumers in Greater China interact online.

In this article, we explore some of the digital marketing trends impacting Greater China for 2021 and provide you with practical tips on how you can leverage these trends to maximise your organisation’s digital performance and budgets.

Digital Trends in Greater China for 2021

As part of the research conducted by We Are Social & Hootsuite within the Digital 2021 report, there were a number of key behaviours and digital trends identified globally that the markets in Greater China ranked high for and had significant percentages of the 16-64 age bracket engaged in.


  • Use of voice search and commands (55.7%)
  • Streaming TV content over the internet (69.5%)
  • Playing video games (88.6%)
  • Smart home device ownership (15.9%)
  • Use of ad blockers (46.1%)
  • Use of social media for work purposes (36.4%)
  • Adoption of eCommerce buying (77.4%)
  • Use of mobile payment services (34.6%)
  • Paying for digital content (84.8%) (global leader)
5 tips for leveraging digital trends across Greater China for 2021 - China

Hong Kong

5 tips for leveraging digital trends across Greater China for 2021 - Hong Kong
  • High reach rate of YouTube (88.3%)
  • Playing video games (86.6%)
  • Concerns about personal misuse of personal data (35.9%)
  • Social media usage (85.6%)
  • High reach rate of LinkedIn (34.4%) and Twitter (20.2%)
  • Mobile eCommerce adoption (52.2%)


  • Use of voice search and commands (42.0%)
  • Use of ad blockers (45.0%)
  • Use social media for brand research (46.9%)
  • High reach rate of Facebook (84.9%), facebook messenger (56.6%) and instagram (42.0%)
  • Use of image recognition tools on mobile (39.5%)
  • Use of QR codes (70.9%)
  • Adoption of eCommerce buying (80.9%) particularly on mobile (63.8%)
  • Making eCommerce purchases via computer (51.5%)
  • Use of mobile payment services (42.6%)
  • Online product research (61.5%)
5 tips for leveraging digital trends across Greater China for 2021 - Taiwan

5 tips for leveraging digital marketing trends across Greater China for 2021

In comparison to the digital trends for South-east Asia or Australia and New Zealand, the trends for Greater China seem to differ between the different markets within the region, however, below we explore some overarching tips for anyone interested in leveraging these trends.

“ROIs for both TV and online video are 35% higher when they’re strategically integrated”

1. Ensure you are targeting video, particularly YouTube and Connected TV inventory

With Hong Kong having a high reach rate of YouTube and China having a strong rate of streaming TV content over the internet, video is therefore a major opportunity for advertisers to reach their audience with their digital ads. In addition to this, our recent article explored the different streaming services that have become popular across the APAC region, read the article to learn more.

As inventory that is only available through Google (DV360 or Google Ads), YouTube is the second largest social media platform and second largest search engine in the world, and with such strong reach rates for YouTube across Hong Kong, advertisers should be using YouTube as a core channel for reaching their audience.

It is however, also important to recognise that China has the highest rate of people paying for digital content globally at 84.8%, which is typically ad free. Therefore, it is crucial for advertisers to have a thorough understanding of their audience and which channels they engage with and when to best inform when and where they should be incorporating digital advertising.

With the fact that “integrated campaigns are 31% more effective than non-integrated campaigns” (Think With Google), when leveraging video campaigns, a platform like Display & Video 360 (DV360) can be effective in managing the frequency capping across not just your YouTube or streaming inventory but across all your video inventory and other channels. Allowing you to maximise when your digital ads are seen at the right time and by the right people.

Read more about the explosion of streaming services in APAC >

“Over 65% of Retail shoppers rate Search & YouTube as highly useful, with Search as the most commonly used pre-purchase touchpoint”

2. Leverage search campaigns to reach consumers when they are researching for products

There is plenty of research that backs up the use of paid search particularly when they are researching products including “88% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a related store within a week” and “76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase.”

Importantly, when you think about where paid search fits within the customer journey, the prospect will be in the consideration or intent stage, showing a certain level of intent in what they search for, this is why organisations should look at targeting different paid search ads based on the intent shown within the keyword that is searched. 

With the stats showing that consumers likely visit a business within a day of searching nearby, a possible strategy could be to offer discount vouchers for buying online to entice immediate action or if your online & offline data are connected, retarget these types of prospects for a given period after the search until a purchase (either online or in-store) is made, also highlighting the importance of connecting your online & offline data.

“76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase”

3. Invest in mobile to provide an easy, seamless experience for consumers

With such a major shift to using mobile within the Greater China region through mobile eCommerce and mobile payment services, you need to ensure that you are appropriately investing in the overall mobile experience. While the answer will be different by industry and organisation, it is important to understand your target audience to give yourself the best chance to be successful with questions like where and how does my target audience spend their time or how would they like to be engaged by our brand and/or products. 

In fact, some organisations and industries have actually found there is no longer a need for ‘bricks and mortar’ stores, this will not be the case in all industries but once you know how to connect with your target audience, your organisation can allocate budgets accordingly.

When looking to invest in a mobile store, many leading organisations are focusing on areas such as Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) to make the online buying process as easy as possible for the consumer and reduce any buying friction while online. Importantly, FiveStones provides project support and licenses for some of the leading CRO platforms in the industry, Google Optimize (free), Optimize 360 and AB Tasty – get in touch with the FiveStones team now to discuss your CRO needs.

Reach out to FiveStones about CRO now >

4. Selling on social

With such comprehensive coverage of social media across the entire region, it simply makes sense that organisations targeting the Greater China region should focus on selling using social. With a high use rate of social media in Hong Kong (85.6%) and high reach rates of facebook, instagram, linkedin and twitter across the region, advertisers can specifically target users in China in a professional work context due to the high usage of social media for work purposes. While the study did not go into great depth about non-traditional social channels, it is important to recognise that some channels such as WeChat have a strong impact in China and the surrounding markets.

Importantly, with Search Ads 360’s social integration feature, you can consolidate audiences and insights across both search and social (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter)  in the platform for more effective advertising across both channels. It also allows advertisers to reach their audience at different stages of the customer journey with demographic targeting on social a more top of funnel activity compared with the intent of search based ads.

5. Use QR codes as part of your offline marketing activities to bring your prospects online

With the widespread use of QR codes across Taiwan (70.9%), QR codes are an effective method for bringing your prospects online. Specifically, it provides an option to create more granular tracking on typically less measurable channels such as Out-of-Home (OOH) and can be as simple as adding a UTM tagged link to the QR code you are promoting.


With a number of global digital trends, including the use of video across YouTube and online TV streaming, the use of online product research, mobile eCommerce adoption among others, having a strong impact in Greater China, you can use the tips identified in this article to take advantage of the digital trends for 2021 and better leverage your digital activities to achieve better performance from your digital budgets.

For support on any of the trends discussed above or more information about how you can use the Google Marketing Platform to leverage these trends in your advertising mix, contact the experts at FiveStones today.