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What are the differences between Douyin and TikTok?

May 29, 2023

What are the differences between Douyin and TikTok?

How to do Marketing on Douyin? With Douyin's increasingly robust e-commerce integration, it will only become more important for brands to establish a platform presence.

China's social e-commerce environment is unique in its pioneering technology and size. According to Research and Market's 2023 report, China's social e-commerce market is expected to reach 430 billion USD by the end of 2023, making up nearly 29% of China's 1.49 trillion USD e-commerce market.


As a pioneer in social e-commerce, Douyin is one of China's leading social e-commerce apps. Douyin has established itself as a crucial part of Chinese digital marketing strategy. This has made it an indispensable platform for brands selling to Chinese consumers, most of whom have turned to the Internet for shopping.


According to a 2022 survey from E-marketer, China is the only country in the world, by a wide margin, where adults prefer shopping digitally over in-store. 54% of Chinese respondents chose shopping digitally compared to 16% for in-store. The only country with as much enthusiasm for shopping online was the UK at 34%.


What is Douyin?

Known as Tik Tok outside of China, Douyin was launched by parent company Bytedance in 2016. Douyin was created as a short video social media platform like its global counterpart.


Douyin is second only to WeChat, China's ubiquitous super-app, in terms of popularity as a social media platform. According to a 2023 survey by Statista, 72.3% of surveyed participants use Douyin, ranking behind WeChat's 81.6% but beating major competitors like QQ, Baidu Tieba, Xiaohongshu, Weibo, and Kuaishou.


Douyin vs. Tik Tok: What Are the Differences?

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First, let's begin by discussing how Douyin differs from Tik Tok, an app most readers should already know. On the surface, the two apps look identical, except that Douyin is in Chinese.


However, the two apps have some major differences. Because users from Douyin can't access Tik Tok and vice versa, combined with the different regulatory restrictions both apps operate under, they have developed very different ecosystems.


Recommendation Algorithm on Douyin and TikTok

Douyin has a different recommendation algorithm from Tik Tok. Because Douyin is targeted at only China, as opposed to Tik Tok targeting a global audience of multiple regional markets, Douyin can better fine-tune its algorithm for the Chinese market.

TikTok's algorithms give smaller creators a chance to reach wider regional audiences, allowing for the creation of a more community-driven content landscape. Douyin, on the other hand, provides stronger weight to established top accounts, resulting in it being more of a media platform. Douyin's For You page usually features larger versions than Tik Tok's.


In addition, Douyin's keyword search algorithm also gives accounts with more followers more exposure and prioritizes verified enterprise accounts.


The result is that Douyin's algorithm is geared towards large accounts, making it extremely well suited for KOL marketing in China.


Douyin Demographics

Like Tik Tok, Douyin is extremely popular amongst millennials and Gen Z. In 2023, of Douyin's 730 million monthly active users, one in three are under 26. Douyin is the channel of choice for reaching the next generation of consumers.


Douyin's early user base was mostly young, female, and metropolitan. After exploding in popularity, the platform retained a more youthful, metropolitan user demographic. Just under half of Douyin's userbase hailed from China's tier one and two cities in 2022, resembling fellow social e-commerce platform Xiaohongshu's userbase distribution. This contrasts with Douyin's competitor in China's short video space, Kuaishou, where two-thirds of its user base hail from tier three cities and below in 2022.


Content on Douyin and TikTok, the differences

A combination of the differences in algorithm and the cultural differences between Chinese Douyin users and global Tik Tok users result in a different set of content doing well on Douyin compared to Tik Tok.


On Tik Tok, popular content is more personal, arts-based, and entertaining. Douyin, on the other hand, features less unique content (Douyin offers a computerized voice to narrate videos) and is more educational.


To create content that will succeed on Douyin, we recommend formatting your content for the Douyin platform and localizing it for your brand's local target demographic.


E-commerce Integration on Douyin, Marketing on Douyin, and sales conversion

Douyin has a much more advanced set of e-commerce functions than Tik Tok. While Tik Tok has implemented integrations with Amazon and Shopify, these are restricted by region, limiting its potential as a social commerce platform.


Launched before Tik Tok's foray into the livestream sales, or live shopping, trend, Douyin Live's livestream sales integration is a fully developed feature. It integrates with Douyin's native e-commerce functions, including in-stream one-click buying buttons.


Mini Programs on Douyin in 2023

Douyin has launched mini programs like other Chinese super apps such as WeChat, Alipay, and Baidu. Mini programs function as lightweight apps within Douyin. This allows Douyin users access to third-party functionalities without leaving the app or installing a new one. As with Douyin's other functions, mini programs have e-commerce functionality enabled.


Mini programs on Douyin now include traditional services such as ride-hailing and food delivery and innovative applications such as augmented reality makeup try-on mini-programs.


Are you looking for the perfect China marketing agency?

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With an in-depth understanding of marketing principles and extensive experience, our passionate and creative team of experts at Chinatop Marketing is committed to helping domestic and international businesses thrive in China's fiercely competitive market.


Navigating the Chinese market presents vast opportunities and unique challenges in today's global business landscape. Our expertise in Chinese market culture, consumer behavior, and emerging trends empowers us to design tailored marketing strategies and convert them into exceptional campaigns on platforms like Douyin.


Beyond crafting captivating content and managing campaigns, we provide comprehensive marketing consultancy services. Our expertise includes market demand analysis, market entry strategies, and establishing strong connections with Chinese media and key stakeholders. By partnering with us, your brand will gain widespread recognition and acceptance in China, driven by our professional guidance.


We prioritize long-term partnerships built on effective communication and mutual understanding. By understanding your specific needs and goals, we develop personalized and practical solutions, ensuring that your marketing efforts effectively communicate your brand's value and captivate your target audience.


Whether you need to announce product news, celebrate company milestones, forge partnerships, or share other significant updates, we offer high-quality content creation, optimization, and distribution services. Let us be your influential partner in the Chinese market, driving your business growth and achieving remarkable success on platforms like Douyin.

Ready to take your brand to new heights in China?

Contact us to discover the possibilities.

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