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China Digital Digest Weekly: Exploring the Chinese Digital Landscape

Hi folks, we are back with our weekly edition of China’s Digital Digest, wherein we would bring you weekly updates on China’s digital space. The report takes a quick glance at China’s complex and rapidly evolving social media landscape by providing updates on the latest happenings across the social media industry. Here are the major highlights of the report.


1. TikTok Challenges Twitter With New Format Offering Text-Only Posts



TikTok, the social platform known for its addictive video content, has announced that it will offer text-only posts, becoming the latest tech giant to offer an alternative to embattled Twitter.



The text posts on TikTok will most closely resemble similar offerings on Instagram, which earlier this month also launched a challenge to Twitter – which owner Elon Musk renamed X – called Threads. Like Meta-owned Threads, TikTok benefits from its size, with around 1.4 billion monthly active users, according to specialist site Business of Apps. But unlike Facebook’s parent company, it has chosen to integrate its new text-only feature into its app rather than launch a separate product, as Meta did with Threads.


2. Temu Takes On Shein, Alibaba In South Korea’s Budget Shopping Arena



Temu, PDD Holdings’ Shein and Amazon.com challenger, has officially landed in South Korea after a recent launch in Japan, as the cross-border online shopping platform drives forward its global expansion plan.



The local version of Temu is sticking to its low-price strategy, offering coupons up to 37,700 won (US$30) for new members and discounts as high as 90 per cent off on select items for a limited time. It is a tried-and-tested playbook that has helped the online marketplace climb to the top of Google and Apple’s free-app rankings in the US, where it launched last year.


3. Baidu CEO Robin Li Leaves Trip.Com Board, As His Focus Shifts to AI



Robin Li Yanhong, founder and chief executive of Baidu, has quit the board of Trip.com Group, China’s largest online travel service provider, after eight years as a director, reflecting the country’s changing technology and entrepreneurship landscape. The Shanghai-based holiday-booking site operator announced the resignation of Li, 54, with immediate effect, without providing a reason for his departure.



Li’s interests in the travel service business began to wane as he shifted increasing attention to autonomous driving and artificial intelligence. The latter became an even bigger priority after the launch of ChatGPT by US start-up OpenAI, which spurred Baidu on to introduce its rival Ernie Bot and bet its future on foundation models.


4. TikTok Signs Payment Pact With Fintech Platform Atome in Malaysia



TikTok’s e-commerce arm struck a partnership with fintech platform Atome, part of Advance Intelligence Group, to expand its online retail push in Malaysia.



Atome will offer its “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) service as a payment option on TikTok Shop in Malaysia, according to a statemen. The service lets consumers defer payments for their purchase over a period of three to six months. The deal is a boost for Singapore-based Advance Intelligence, whose payments business has gained tens of millions of users in Southeast Asia since its founding in 2016.


5. Alibaba Injects Fresh Capital Into Lazada Unit As It Eyes Overseas Growth



Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, which is conducting sweeping changes to its business structure, has invested an additional US$845 million into Lazada, its online retail unit in Southeast Asia, as it eyes overseas expansion.



With the latest amount, disclosed in a regulatory filing in Singapore, the e-commerce giant’s total investment into the unit adds up to several billion dollars. Lazada operates under Alibaba’s Global Digital Business Group, which also includes AliExpress, Trendyol and Daraz. Under its new business structure, Alibaba’s global digital business group will be headed by group CEO Jiang Fan. Board members include Michael Evans, Eddie Wu Yongming, and Trudy Dai Shan.


6. Chinese Fast-Fashion Rivalry Spills Into Courtroom As Temu Sues Shein



Two of China’s fastest-growing online retail platforms are engaged in an unusual legal battle in the United States, as their bare-knuckle rivalry spills over to the courtroom in one of their biggest and most lucrative markets.



Temu, a unit of Shanghai-based PDD Holdings, sued its competitor Shein, founded in Nanjing and headquartered in Singapore, alleging antitrust and consumer rights violations, according to a complaint filed on July 14 at the District Court of Massachusetts. Temu seeks unspecified monetary damages. Shein said the lawsuit was “without merit” and vowed to “vigorously defend” itself, according to an emailed statement.


7. Sephora Eyes Potential Leadership Reorganisation In China



Beauty retail giant Sephora, a subsidiary of luxury conglomerate LVMH Group, is reportedly considering a major overhaul of its operations in China. According to Bloomberg, the move comes as Sephora sets its sights on more ambitious sales goals in the future, necessitating the appointment of a new leader for the China region to better serve its VIP customers.



As such, the company is actively searching for a suitable candidate to fill the position of head of China this year and is also exploring ways to enhance services for high-end customers. While Sephora’s global revenue is projected to reach an impressive 14 billion USD this year, the Chinese market has witnessed slower growth due to fierce competition in the cosmetics industry. To counter this slow growth, management is reportedly seeking to appoint an executive capable of spearheading the brand’s expansion in this lucrative market.


8. Forbes Names China’s Best-Emerging Brands In The Latest List



Forbes China has released its official Top 100 Emerging Brands list, after first launching a call for entries in December last year.



The judges reviewed brands across ten key categories – beauty and personal hygiene; clothing, footwear, and bags; jewellery and watches; mother and baby; creativity and play; sports and outdoors; food and drink; fresh produce; homeware; and computing. Beauty and personal hygiene had the highest number of emerging brands, with 20 brands in this category making the final list, followed by food and drink with 15 brands. Of all the cities represented in the selection, Shanghai is home to the most emerging brands (19), closely followed by Guangzhou (16) and Hangzhou (14).


Wrapping Up

The vast and diverse nature of the Chinese Social Media space makes it incredibly challenging to keep a tab on the rapid developments taking place. However, China’s Digital Digest brings you all the latest updates from there to keep you abreast of all the evolving trends.


To delve deeper into the findings of the July report, click here.


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