International Marketing News: Digital Media, TikTok & Understanding Consumer Needs

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Discover the latest international marketing news from our expert, Alison Humphries, who talks us through how the ongoing impact of COVID-19 is affecting markets around the world.

International Marketing News: Digital Media, TikTok & Understanding Consumer Needs

What are the latest news stories from the world of international marketing? In this article I’ll be talking about the ongoing impact of COVID-19, and what this means for markets around the world. From the consumption of digital media and TV in China, to the rise in popularity of TikTok since quarantine measures were implemented.

Time Spent with Media in China Grows Amid Stay-at-Home Measures

According to eMarketer, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in the consumption of digital media and TV in China due to people being very cautious and staying at home. There has been a month on month average increase of 4 minutes from March, rising to 6 hours 58 minutes. eMarketer estimate that 2:45 could be spent viewing traditional TV and the remaining time will be spent perusing digital media. The expectation for the consumption of digital media is for this to continue to grow moving forwards.

  • TV has experienced a 1.3% growth through lock down, but the projection for 2021 is a 3% decline, as people start to spend more time away from their home
  • Time spent reading newspapers and magazines is anticipated to decline by 9.1% and 8.3% respectively
  • eMarketer forecasts indicate that adults will spend on average 4 hours 13 mins per day engaging with digital media this year
  • It is anticipated that mobile internet usage will grow by 13.2% in 2021
  • Digital video growth in 2020 is likely to grow at a faster rate than previously forecasted at 16.5% as opposed to 13.7% as a result of the current pandemic. On average 1 hour 24 mins per adult will be spent watching digital video

These are trends we need to monitor across all markets to ensure budget allocation is weighted towards the channels, and through media where it is likely to have the greatest impact.

TikTok on the Clock: A Summary of CFIUS’s Investigation into ByteDance

The rise in popularity of TikTok (the social video app from China) in the US has been explosive since quarantine was implemented. The Center for Trade & International Studies (CSIS) estimate that over 2 billion apps have been downloaded globally, and 165 million in the US. However, the review of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) into ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, could impact heavily on the future usage of the app in the US.

  • ByteDance acquired US Social video app in November 2017 and merged TikTok and in August 2018 without seeking clearance from CFIUS due to being unaware of a potential connection to US national security
  • TikTok increased in popularity in the US 2019, which opened concerns around data security sparking an investigation
  • Like many other social media apps, TikTok collects users’ IP address, geo data, unique device identifiers, browsing and search history, and cookies included in this is data shared from third party social network providers. The concern here being the company headquarters’ location in China
  • Politics are a hot topic on TikTok and the CFIUS have concerns that Chinese propaganda could infiltrate this
  • The outcome of the review is likely to have the greatest impact on Americans aged 10-29, as 63% of TikTok users fall into this age bracket. This makes TikTok the forerunner of social media app providers with the highest volume of users aged below 30

The question remains open as to whether the consumption of digital video content amongst the American millennials and Gen Z will be set to change in the near future, and the subsequent impact this could have on investment in TikTok ad spend and production of organic content.

Consumers in China May Resume Some Travel as Lockdown Measures Ease

In a recent article published by eMarketer, a survey carried out by the China Tourism Academy and shows that domestic travel may start to see signs of recovery this month in China. The highest number of respondents cited short-to-medium trips as their preferred journeys for their first post lockdown travel experience. This provides a potential glimmer of hope for the travel hungry, by the most advanced in weathering the impacts of COVID-19.

115 million trips were made over the Chinese Labor Holiday (1st-5th May), which was just under 60% of the total for the same period in 2019. Another notable event was the reopening of the Shanghai Disneyland Park on 11th May, social distancing well accounted for and tickets sold out within minutes.

The growth in demand for travel in China may help to map the future of this sector for markets less mature in the impacts of COVID-19 to guide on anticipating when to start pushing budgets again.

Search Insights to Help You Understand Consumer Needs in Uncertain Times

Google has explored macro shifts in consumer behaviour to predict what the impacts will be post lockdown, and have covered five main themes to demonstrate this.

  1. What People Know

People are closely monitoring the latest COVID-19 rules, with searchers in Germany frequently trying to determine ‘what is allowed’ (‘was ist erlaubt’) and ‘curfew permit’ (‘izin belgesi’) in Turkey. But people across many markets including Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK and many others are also hoping for a return to normal with searches relating to ‘when will … reopen’ (i.e. hairdressers, schools etc.).

  1. How People Make A Living

Consumers are concerned about financial security – in Denmark students are seeking financial support (‘SU lan’), interest in ‘unemployment benefit’ ('prestación por desempleo') in Spain and ‘job centre’  ('urząd pracy') in Poland.

  1. How People Feel

People are keen to stay healthy, both physically and mentally – the inability to go the gym and having more time to cook and bake has given rise to searches for  ‘mental hygiene’ ('higiene mental')  in Spain, ‘healthy recipes’ (‘gezonde recepten’) in the Netherlands, and ‘vitamin d’ in the UK.

  1. How People Learn

Educational tools and platforms have significantly increased in popularity as people are looking to home school their children, but also to enhance their own skills with searches such as ‘smartschool’ in Belgium, online exam ('online sınav') and ‘software training’ ('yazılım eğitimi') in Turkey, tipping Google Trends latest queries.

  1. What People Do

People have found new ways to spend their time at home and in outdoor spaces with searches emerging such as ‘Woningsdag’ (‘home day’) a lockdown-friendly variation of ‘Koningsdag’ (‘King’s Day’) in the Netherlands, equipment and locations ‘for running’ (‘do biegania’) in Poland, ‘outdoor furniture’ ('utemöbler rusta') in Sweden, ‘bingo’ in Denmark and ‘old-fashioned Dutch games’ (‘oud hollandse spelletjes’) in the Netherlands to keep people entertained at home.

These search trends outline new opportunities to take advantage of promoting alternative uses for products or pushing products that may not previously have been top sellers due to these changes in consumer behaviour. 

Stats Roundup: Coronavirus Impact on Marketing, E-commerce & Advertising

Econsultancy have collated the latest impactful weekly stats to outline the effects the Coronavirus is having on different sectors across the global economy. Here is a snapshot of some of their findings:

  • Forrester have predicted a global YoY loss across the retail sector of $2.1 trillion in 2020, with the US potentially seeing 9.1% loss and the EU a 5% loss (Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the UK), which is a 10.4% collective decline. China could see a potential $192 billion reduction, yet Latin America appears to be lesser impacted with a forecasted loss of 6.8%
  • On the flip side, Nosto reported that the global fashion industry saw a 30% YoY loss in March, yet April showed a resurgence at a 21% increase YoY with Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK driving strong YoY sales, but markets like Sweden seeing a rapid decline
  • Amazon’s global sales were up 21% YoY in Q1, exceeding its target by 1.8 billion. Despite this, costs have increased significantly through the requirement to hire more warehouse staff and invest in the necessary safety measures to protect their workforce
  • Offline retail is predicted to see a heavy, negative impact with research from GlobalWebIndex highlighting that nearly 50% of global consumers do not expect to return to brick and mortar stores for ‘some’ or even ‘a long’ time after lockdown eases
  • SocialBakers highlighted that investment in social ads has grown by 32.2% in the first three weeks of April compared to the end of March. The US was the largest contributor to the growth with an uplift of 47.3% over this period, Latin America by 41.6% and South East Asia by 35.7%
  • Live streaming is on the up. The Financial Times reported that Netflix gained 16 million subscribers in Q1 2020
  • A recent GlobalWebIndex survey showed that 33% of Gen Z and Millenials wanted social media companies to provide live stream events compared to 27% of Gen X respondents and 22% of Boomers indicating the opportunity to target younger demographics through livestreaming activity

These are some clear indicators of significant changes in consumer behaviour that could impact future strategy and channel allocation of marketing budgets.


If you’d like to discuss any of the latest international marketing news included in this update, get in touch with our experts today.

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