Douyin: The New Marketing Hub for Brands in China

Let’s get right into it and talk about Douyin!

What is Douyin?

With 612.96 million monthly active users, Douyin is the most popular short-video streaming app in China. However, you might be more familiar with its foreign relative, Tiktok. Douyin was actually the first such short-video app, and it was replicated into Tiktok following its massive successes in China. Both Douyin and Tiktok are owned by the same company, Bytedance.

Douyin empowers everyone to be a creator and encourages users to share their passions and creativity through their videos. With this, Douyin competes with the other social networking giants in China such as WeChat, Weibo and Xiaohongshu.

With Douyin, brands can capture and disseminate creative, entertaining content to share with target audiences.

Who’s using Douyin?

612.96 million people a month, that’s who.

Douyin’s user base continues to increase every year. This provides tremendous potential for brands that seek to build authenticity and increase their share of voice on China’s social media.

The majority of Douyin users are relatively young and consist mostly of millennials. They come from an educated background, are predominantly female, and have relatively high incomes. About 85% of users are under the age of 24, and these users live in major cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin.

The majority of the Douyin users are from tier 1 and tier 2 cities, which are the developed metropolitan regions in China. It is a great platform for businesses that have young and affluent target audiences.

Is it profitable for brands and retailers to launch campaigns on Douyin?

In the era of social commerce, it is not only profitable for brands to embrace social media, but rather it is imperative that they do so in order to engage target consumers and establish brand authenticity at the most vital touchpoints in the customer journey.

Comparing Douyin with WeChat

WeChat was the main competitor for social commerce. However, it is still only a social media platform and its e-commerce capacity remains limited. WeChat is attempting to take on Douyin with its Channels feature, which is designed to replicate the short video functionality of Douyin from within the WeChat app. In some ways, as a short video social platform, WeChat has an advantage over Douyin in the social aspect.

When WeChat gave animation artists Zhang Xiaoying and Qin Yun an opportunity to try out the platform’s short video feature Channels in the summer of 2020, the duo were quick to jump in even though videos of Yutaixian, a fish character they created, had already snagged the interest of users on rival platforms such as Douyin.

And their decision paid off. The video account of Yutaixian, a fish with a pale blue body and human limbs, attracted 250,000 followers on WeChat, with some of the most popular videos getting over 100,000 likes. While Yutaixian’s following on Douyin is 10 times greater, Zhang said the WeChat Channels move “completed” the character.

“On WeChat it’s more than a video character. We’ve created a personal WeChat account for Yutaixian, where Yutaixian adds his own friends, interacts in group chats and posts on Moments like a real person. For other platforms we simply update the content,” said Zhang.

Yutaixian, which literally means a fish that has too much time on its hands in Chinese, talks in his videos about a reluctance to go to work and a desire to herd cattle instead. The character is Zhang and Qin’s attempt to capture the mood of many modern day workers in the country, who want to slow down the pace of their hectic work schedules to catch their breath.

The WeChat success and resonance with everyday people has given the character’s creators the confidence to further explore commercial opportunities, such as live-streaming and selling Yutaixian-themed products on WeChat Channels.

Meanwhile Douyin, conceived as a short video app and which now has over 600 million daily active users according to the company’s data, is taking the fight in the opposite direction by extending into gaming, social media and e-commerce, squaring up to the likes of Tencent and Alibaba Group Holding in their own backyards.

Fortunately, Douyin’s e-commerce ecosystem is far more developed than WeChat’s, making it a solid contender against e-commerce platforms such as and Taobao.

Comparing Douyin with Taobao and

Taobao and are “traditional” e-commerce platforms, with a digital format resembling that of a supermarket with products displayed on shelves. Users who come upon Taobao or have an active purchase intent and have a product in mind that they want to search for.

Douyin on the other hand is a social entertainment platform with funny and informative short videos as the core of its offerings. With Douyin, most users enter the platform without any purchase intent, which enables brands to entice users through soft advertising and creative campaigns which plant the inspiration for purchase behaviour. Many Douyin users are unintentionally attracted to promotional content in short videos created by brands, KOLs (key opinion leaders) and KOCs (key opinion consumers).

Douyin’s interest-based e-commerce model can be described as “products looking for people” in contrast to the traditional “people looking for products” formula. Combined with the eerily effective algorithms developed and implemented by Douyin, the short-video app is extremely adept at understanding customer demands and providing users with tailored content that directly matches their interests and preferences.

For example, if a female user browses 3 to 5 short videos discussing skincare types every day for half a year or even just half a month, Douyin’s algorithm will filter content provided to this user to reflect her interest in skincare. Douyin will also categorise users searching for lipsticks and face masks as prospective customers for cosmetics, thereby increasing the rate at which these consumers will be exposed to cosmetics-focused content and products.

Furthermore, Douyin’s algorithm is constantly operating, designed with the understanding that the interests of users are diverse and changeable. On the Douyin app, users demonstrate their interest and attitudes towards content and products to Douyin through purchases, product browsing and other behaviours. These touchpoints further enable Douyin to track its users’ variety of interests in a continuous fashion over time, thereby facilitating in-depth exploration and accuracy of content and product recommendations to match users’ interests as they evolve over time, leading to increasingly efficient conversion, retention and re-purchase rates.

Compared to Douyin’s interest-based e-commerce model, Taobao and are “shelf-based e-commerce” models. This conforms to the traditional customer journey of making purchase decisions after taking interest in a product or category and taking action by searching for that particular product or category. Douyin’s key advantage lies in its ability to integrate the entire process from product seeding and research to purchase decision and payment, all within its own app.

Comparing Douyin with Xiaohongshu

Douyin’s biggest competitor in social media and social commerce is Xiaohongshu, sometimes referred to as Little Red Book.

What products are in demand amongst Douyin users?

For the majority, FMCG products such as beauty, skincare, personal care and household goods are popular on Douyin. However, the platform continues to diversify and it is common to see food and beverage, jewellery, mobile devices, bags, and even homes being sold on Douyin.

How to sell on Douyin?

In order to begin selling on Douyin, you first need to create a Douyin official account, then register your business entity on the platform.

How to create and verify a Douyin official brand account

Here we present the main steps you need to follow in order to create your very own Douyin store and get it up and running.

Step 1: Create a verified Douyin account

The first step to launching your Douyin store is to get a verified Douyin account.

Step 2: Select a store type

After you have created and verified your official Douyin account and your submission has been approved, you will be able to access the back-end of Douyin e-commerce via

After logging in, you will be prompted to select the type of store you would like to create. These are the four types of Douyin stores:

  • Basic store
  • Official store
  • Speciality store
  • Franchise store

Advertising on Douyin

There are several different channels for advertising that Douyin offers to brands via its app user interface.

Splash screen adverts

Also known as a ‘brand takeover’, a splash screen advert is displayed when a user opens the Douyin app. Splash screen adverts fill the user’s screen and are either static posters that last for three seconds, or dynamic videos that last for five seconds. 

Users will only be presented with four splash screen adverts a day, and new users will not be served them at all for their first seven days on the platform.

Integrated feed adverts

Feed adverts take the form of short videos that are natively displayed in a user’s daily feed. They’re seamlessly integrated and can lead to great engagement — particularly if they’re filmed natively and emulate the style of popular user content. 

Just like with standard posts on Douyin, users are able to comment on feed ads, share them with their friends, and post them to other social media sites, all of which could significantly increase a brand’s following.

Partnership with KOLs and KOCs

It is imperative that brands launching campaigns on Douyin collaborate with KOLs and KOCs.

Selling and sharing products via Douyin

By creating a registered, licenced shop on Douyin, brands can get started with selling and sharing their products on the app. However, launching a Douyin store is only the first step. It is crucial for brands to spread the word of their shop on the app through creative, engaging video content appearing on user feeds.

There are two types of video content that brands need to create in order to achieve success on Douyin. The first is in-house content, which consists of content created by brand-owned content creators via the brand’s official account.

The second type of content is sponsored content, which is created via independent content creators (i.e. KOLs and KOCs) who create content for the brand as part of a campaign.

Douyin Pay: Make payments without leaving the app

Douyin even has integrated its own payment mechanism within the Douyin app. This facilitates transactions by enabling users to do everything from finding inspiration, learning about products and making purchases without once leaving the Douyin app.

Tips from KFD on using Douyin to boost sales

With Influencers by KFD, your brand will be able to stake its presence on the app like never before. By working with KFD, you can identify the right influencers to recruit, enabling you to improve the efficacy of your campaigns with each launch, whether on Douyin, or some of China’s other crucial platforms such as Xiaohongshu and Weibo.