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TikTok vs Douyin: A Guide for Luxury Brands

With TikTok amassing more than 1 billion monthly active users and Douyin reporting 750 million, the short-form video platforms under ByteDance’s ownership are outshining their rivals. Douyin, often dubbed as China’s counterpart to TikTok, is establishing itself as a formidable presence within mainland China, characterized by its distinct Chinese cultural elements and preferences among local consumers.
Here is a guide for luxury brands on TikTok vs Douyin.

TikTok vs Douyin: A Guide for Luxury Brands on Differences

TikTok has witnessed a surge in content centered around post-irony and meme culture, prompting luxury brands to take notice. According to trend forecasting companies, humor has emerged as a coping mechanism for digital natives, almost all of the global audience prefers brands that show humor, and because of this they are more likely to remember humorous advertisements. On TikTok, Gen Z humor is characterized by a blend of chaos, unconventional taste, memes, and “cringe” humor that alludes to other memes.
Meanwhile, Douyin’s landscape is shaped by China’s distinctive socioeconomic dynamics, including factors such as economic development, urbanization, societal norms, and governmental oversight. Cultural values in China significantly influence the platform, with preference often given to content that espouses positive social values while steering clear of controversy.
It’s crucial for a brand’s content to align with these localized sentiments. What may be a popular joke, meme, or trend in the West doesn’t automatically strike a chord with Chinese consumers, and vice versa.
Users on Douyin tend to interact more with educational or culturally significant content. For example, during this year’s Qixi Festival (China’s Valentine’s Day), Burberry introduced an exclusive gift box alongside its regular collections as part of Douyin’s e-commerce Super Brand Day event, in order to attract more customers.

Burberry Qixi Festival limited edition, source: spotlight west communications

The Unique Dynamics of TikTok and Douyin

TikTok sets the tone for brands’ content with its raw and unfiltered style. Videos that capture spontaneity, authenticity, entertainment, and humor tend to gain traction, particularly among luxury brands, in the Western market.
In contrast, Douyin users prefer a more polished presentation. Luxury brands on Douyin prioritize content that exudes couture style, sophistication, and a sense of luxury aspiration, aiming to convey status, refinement, and elegance, aligning with the preferences of Chinese consumers.
According to the luxury brand guide on TikTok vs. Douyin, while TikTok embraces a casual vibe, luxury brands adapt to its lo-fi aesthetic; on Douyin, they opt for a more refined approach, emphasizing branding and presenting a more polished image.

TikTok vs Douyin: A Guide for Luxury Brands on Influencer-Led Commerce

Both TikTok and Douyin users have become more discerning in their content consumption habits. Douyin boasts a vibrant community of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), including the likes of Crazy Little Brother Yang, who held the title of the most followed KOL on Douyin in 2023, and they are forging robust connections with luxury brands.
KOL marketing in China is deeply ingrained in its culture, revolving around strong interpersonal relationships, known as guanxi. In a fiercely competitive landscape with millions of participants, Chinese consumers not only value recommendations from trusted friends and family but also look to individuals they perceive as authoritative sources due to their expertise and credibility in specific niches.
Meanwhile, in the West, the influencer landscape is undergoing a shift. Trust in influencers is declining as the barriers to entry for micro-influencers diminish, prompting brands to reconsider their choice of endorsers. Brands are increasingly adopting alternative strategies, such as leveraging celebrity-driven fashion week content, to stay relevant in the evolving influencer landscape.

Crazy Little Brother Yang, source: Jing Daily

Strategies for Luxury Brands 

As TikTok and Douyin evolve into dominant platforms for content consumption, brands should approach them as distinct media channels and refrain from simply cross-posting content.
While TikTok’s global reach may offer broader exposure, the growing influence of Douyin within China demands attention from luxury brands.
To resonate with Chinese internet users, brands must prioritize collaborations with local creators, integrate region-specific cultural nuances, and employ language tailored to the domestic audience.
By harnessing Douyin’s distinct functionalities and strengths, brands can effectively connect with a deeply engaged audience, amplify their messaging, and stimulate sales within this pivotal market.

Long Advisory digital marketing agency in China

Long Advisory supports Western companies in China through digital marketing. In fact, our experience has led us to believe that today, the best and most convenient approach to making your brand well-known in China is through a digital approach. Furthermore, thanks to our know-how, we know how to make your brand known to potential Chinese consumers. With the effective coordination of Long Advisory, your company will see a new rise in the largest market in the world: China.

Long Advisory is a digital marketing agency specializing in developing digital marketing solutions tailored for the Chinese market. 

Interested in expanding your brand in China? Contact us for more info and details at info@longadvisory.eu

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