The CRM market in China is distinguished by social consumerism and the consequent requirement to manage the large variety of data points across apps and online platforms.
Did you know that almost all companies (91%) with more than 11 employees use a CRM? And that the CRM market is the fastest-growing software market?
In this article, the China experts at Tenba Group outline the CRM market in China and assist you to determine which CRM software for the Chinese market is best for your international or Chinese business to manage leads and contacts as well as customer relationships, increase customer loyalty, and ultimately drive sales.
Table of Contents
- The Global CRM Market
- The CRM Market in China
- Global CRMs
- CRM Market in China – Chinese CRMs
- The CRM Market in China – The Takeaway
The Global CRM Market
To begin with, CRM stands for Consumer Relationship Management. It is a technology for companies to manage their relationships and interactions with existing customers and potential prospects. The goal is to improve business relationships and leverage opportunities and potential by staying connected to customers, streamlining processes, and improving profitability.
Typically, large amounts of strategic, operational, analytical and collaborative data is stored, processed, administered, analyzed, and forecasted. This data stems from a large variety of communication channels like the company’s website, online communication via email, live chat, social media, and phone calls.
Tools to manage consumer relationships are typically divided into these modules
- lead acquisition: sales prospects as a valuable business asset
- contact management: to carry out targeted marketing campaigns (customer data)
- sales/opportunities: leveraging CRM data to convert leads into sales (customer journey)
- customer support: after-sales service, reporting
The better a company knows the requirements and behaviors of their customers and target audience, the better, they can cater to their needs, drive sales, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Overall, the global CRM software market by revenue is forecast to grow to 49.6 billion USD by the year 2025. That’s a plus of around 9% compared to the year 2020. In fact, most international companies view a CRM as the main component to drive digital transformation in their business.
In general, CRMs are an important aspect of any business. Overall, CRMs have the potential to save more than 8 USD on every 1 USD spent.
CRM Software for Western Companies
There are more than 600 CRM software solutions worldwide. It may not surprise you that the largest CRM software worldwide by revenue is Salesforce with a market share of 24%.
This popular CRM is followed by Adobe (10% market share), and SAP, Microsoft, and Oracle with about 5% market share each. Further global CRM providers include Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Zendesk, Nich Systems, and Qualtrics. These are mostly used by larger international companies.
For Western small and medium enterprises, Zoho and HubSpot are the most common CRMs.
Remember: Email communication is the foundation of professional interactions and customer engagement in the Western world.
SCRM Software in China
Using SCRM (social consumer relationship management) tools is advisable in China as this online market is centered around social media apps, most importantly WeChat. Email communication with partners and customers is barely used – most interactions take place on WeChat through business/brand accounts.
Companies that are already active in China or want to expand into the Middle Kingdom, basically have two options to manage their consumer relationships.
- Use an existing CRM like Zoho or HubSpot together with WeChat integrations/plugins for these software solutions. Zoho offers a full integration of WeChat, and for HubSpot there are third-party apps. Besides, Salesforce also offers third-party apps to integrate WeChat.
- Use a separate SCRM for China like WeCom with integration into the existing CRMs (which offers more functionalities).
With a strong focus on WeChat for almost all brand/business activities, it is advisable to have a WeChat QR code on all points of interaction with (potential) consumers, including the company website, and other social media accounts, e.g. on Weibo. This creates a natural flow of followers through a funnel to WeChat and into the SCRM.
In China, leads are typically generated through Baidu PPC ads, and social media presence on Weibo, WeChat and more – all of which can and should be integrated with the chosen SCRM.
Before we take a deep dive into the Chinese market, let’s take a closer look at the aforementioned international customer relationship management tools.
Salesforce Customer 360
As the largest CRM software worldwide, the Salesforce CRM offers a wide range of scalable services and solutions while providing excellent data security and safety. What’s noteworthy is that in 2019, Tencent Rival and largest e-commerce player worldwide, the Alibaba Group invested in Salesforce to secure access to consumer data and access.
- Annual revenue (2022): 30.3 billion USD (+21% year-on-year)
- Initial release: 1999
- Cloud-based software
Adobe Experience Cloud (AEC)
Formerly known as Adobe Marketing Cloud (AMC), Adobe Experience Cloud provides a comprehensive set of scalable applications, capabilities, and services.
- Annual revenue (2022): 619 million USD (+16% year-on-year)
- Initial release: 2009
- Cloud-based software with integrated download option for on-premise use
SAP Customer Experience (CX)
As a business management software (ERP), SAP CX is highly customizable and scalable, offering fast forecasting and analysis tools.
- Initial release: 2002
- German company
- Cloud-based software, on-premise option
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Released in 2016, Microsoft Dynamics CRM integrates applications for customer service, marketing, field service, and project automation.
- Initial release: 2003
- Cloud-based software
Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience (CX)
Oracle CX Cloud offers a variety of tools to manage a company’s customers, sales, and marketing, as well as provide customer and e-commerce services, and more.
- Initial release: 1998
- Cloud-based software
Many SMEs use Zoho CRM, as it is highly scalable and allows highly individualized customer relations.
- Initial release: 2005
- Indian company
- Cloud-based software
Another popular CRM among SMEs is HubSpot CRM, as it has social integrations to boost lead tracking and conversions.
- Initial release: 2006
- Cloud-based software
As you can see, the global CRM market for larger companies is dominated by five key players while SMEs use smaller CRMs overall. Zoho and HubSpot are the most commonly used CRM software, but there is also a large variety of other CRM providers.
Now, how does this look in the Middle Kingdom with strict online regulations and varying market requirements and consumer needs? Let’s take a look at the CRM market in China and find out.
The CRM Market in China
This concept of CRM software first gained the attention of Chinese companies in the year 2001, after the country entered the World Trade Organization. The development of local, Chinese CRM software started a few years later in 2007 with Kingdee as an extension of the sales function of the SAP ERP system.
International, Western CRM solutions like Zoho and HubSpot (that require a monthly subscription plan) are typically provided as software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. This corresponds with the business demand, where 88% prefer Saas CRMs. In the Chinese market, the focus lies on WeChat SCRM mini apps, plugins, and extensions.
In China, the most popular CRMs in the SaaS market are Salesforce (9%), Tencent (4.4%), Kingdee (1.4%), and others. The majority of Chinese companies use local Chinese CRMs to manage customer relations. Most of these are SCRMs and based on WeChat.
China’s leading CRM companies continue their expansion and development, driven by cloud computing technology and growing digitalization, especially in the Western, less developed part of China.
CRM Market in China – China Calls for Social CRM
As social shopping has become the most popular way of consumerism in China, capturing the respective data is key. WeChat is China’s super app for communication, shopping, and more, which calls for an SCRM software to manage user data, drive traffic and sales.
Therefore, Social customer relationship management (SCRM) software is essential to use in China as it focuses on social media integration, in particular, WeChat, QQ, Weibo and the likes.
SCRMs are consumer-centered and social-focused tools based on social network functionalities. Smart mini apps allow brands to directly engage with their customers and interact with new prospective clients. Besides, brands can collect valuable feedback on products and services besides their consumers’ basic information and preferences.
Example WeCom App for WeChat
You can download the WeCom app here by installing an .apk file for Android phones outside of the Google Play Store, which is blocked in China.
The WeCom app itself is also available in the Google Play Store or the Apple Store.
As a Chinese multinational technology and entertainment conglomerate, Tencent is the company behind China’s super app WeChat, popular messenger QQ and Qzone as well as an investor in many other Chinese tech ventures. Established in 1998, Tencent had an annual revenue of 83.6 billion USD in 2022. The company’s headquarters are located in Shenzhen.
Tencent Qidian (腾讯企点)
As an SCRM (social customer relationship management) product, Tencent Qidian, seamlessly integrates Tencent’s ecosystem. It allows Chinese and international companies to centralize data from QQ, WeChat, Tencent Cloud, and other applications.
- Initial release: 2002
- Cloud-based SCRM software
Xiaoshouyi Sales Cloud (销售易)
When Tencent rival Alibaba announced an exclusive CRM partnership with Salesforce 2019, Tencent invested 120 million USD in Xiaoshouyi. Chinese tech industry giants like Didi, a leader in autonomous driving, use Xiaoshouyi.
- Initial release: 2011
- Online and mobile-based CRM
Now, let’s take a look at further Chinese CRM software, outside of Tencent, but also offering WeChat integrations.
Formerly known as WeChat Work, WeCom is a popular app to manage customers in China. It seamlessly interconnects with the WeChat ecosystem to chat with existing customers and prospective clients, manage business operations, and more. As such, WeCom is the most commonly used SCRM among Chinese SMEs.
- Initial release: 2001
- SCRM app
What’s special about WeCom is that it allows integration with larger Western CRM solutions like Salsforce.
WeChat CRM Mini Apps
WeChat as China’s most popular app offers a large variety of CRM mini apps to fulfill individual customer relations needs.
WeChat CRM mini apps are most important in China, because almost all traffic is directed to WeChat (business account profiles), which is where communication with customers and prospects takes place. Therefore, it is a smart move to use one-stop-solutions for marketing and customer engagement in China.
|Drip (水滴)||Youzan (有赞)||Weimob (微盟)||MikeCRM (麦客)||Dodoca (点点客)|
|Cost||free||free||approx. 3,500 – 4,500 USD/year (including ecommerce/ shop functions)||free||industry-dependent|
|WeChat shop||no||yes||yes||basic functions||yes|
|Ideal for||Content- focused brands||Product- focused brands||Best known||Advanced functionalities||Industry- specialized|
An important part of Kingdee’s services, Fxiaoke (纷享销客) has the biggest share in enterprise SaaS cloud services China with more than 600,000 renowned clients across various industries.
- Initial release: 2011
- Cloud-based CRM software
Fxiaoke also offers a WeChat integration.
Yonyou CRM (用友CRM)
Headquartered in Beijing, Yonyou offers international and Asian-focused CRM and other software solutions.
- Annual revenue (2022): 1.5 billion USD
- Initial release: 2008
- Cloud-based CRM software
Likewise, Yonyou offers integrations for WeChat, QQ, and more.
Leveraging the China Market Potential with CRMs
With modern digital media and new sales channels like (WeChat) mini-programs and booming short video and live streaming platforms, marketing channels have multiplied significantly. Therefore, individual media conversion rates are lower as they spread out more throughout platforms. The increase of lead data requires CRMs to store, manage, and process mass data, which increases rapidly.
At the same time, mobile networks make it easier for cloud-based SaaS CRM software to collect customer data and deliver it to CRMs via cloud. Additional hardware devices – including deployment, setup and installation – are not required in this process, therefore, saving time, human resources, and money.
As always, the right CRM software for your international company doing business in China or your Chinese enterprise depends on your company needs (sales channels, existing infrastructure, number of accounts, etc.) and budget.
If you are just starting with your business, a simple Excel spreadsheet document may suffice to collect and record your customer data. Once your data becomes larger and more complex, you should consider a CRM.
For the Chinese market, it is advisable to continue using the company’s international CRM (if applicable) and use a separate CRM/SCRM for China.
International CRMs are suitable for larger companies and SMEs that are active in China or plan to expand their business in the Middle Kingdom. Their advantages include international customer support, high customization, and global streamlining of data. On the other hand, pricing is usually higher compared to Chinese CRMs.
|CRM||Type||Cost (Q1/2023)||Simplified Chinese||Traditional Chinese||English||Blocked in China|
|Salesforce Customer 360||Cloud CRM||from 25$ per user per month||x||x||x||no|
|Adobe Experience Cloud (AEC)||Cloud CRM/On-Premise use optional||from 9.80$ per user per month||x||no|
|SAP Customer Experience (CX)||Cloud/On-Premise CRM||from 56$ per month||x||x||x||no|
|Microsoft Dynamics CRM||Cloud CRM||from 20$ per user per month||x||x||no|
|Oracle CX Cloud||Cloud CRM||from 12.50$ per user per month||x||x||x||no|
|Zoho CRM||Cloud CRM||from 14$ per user per month||x||x||x||no|
|HubSpot CRM||Cloud CRM||from 22.50$ per user per month||x||x||no|
Next, let’s take a look at Chinese CRMs software to further illuminate the CRM market in China.
CRM Market in China – Chinese CRMs
Local Chinese CRMs are ideal for smaller businesses and SMEs. Their advantages include local service support, flexibility, better localization and cheaper pricing.
|CRM||Type||Cost (Q1/2023)||Simplified Chinese||Traditional Chinese||English|
|Qidian (Tencent)||Cloud SCRM||free||x||x||x|
|WeCom (Tencent)||SCRM app||free||x||x||x|
|Xiaoshouyi (Tencent investor)||Online and mobile-based CRM||free||x||x||x|
|WeChat CRMs||Mini apps||free||x||x||x|
|Fxiaoke (Kingdee)||Cloud CRM||from 300 RMB (~44 USD) per user per year||x||x||x|
|Yonyou CRM||Cloud CRM||pricing upon request||x||x||x|
Keep in mind that if you use a global CRM software in China, a VPN or permission from the local authorities may be required to run the CRM software in your office in China. A China expert like Tenba Group can assist you with this.
The CRM Market in China – The Takeaway
Ensuring a good customer experience is vital to companies, now more than ever in challenging economic situations that the world is facing at present.
To sum it up, a good CRM will help your business to
- understand your customers’ demands and engage with them
- grow your audience
- boost customer satisfaction
- increase customer loyalty
- drive sales
- reduce marketing and customer acquisition costs
- streamlined workflow through automation
With China being on the forefront of social consumerism, SCRM software is required to effectively manage social data and leverage its potential.
In this context, SCRM plugins, mini apps, and apps are a smart way to engage consumers through one-stop-solutions focused mostly on WeChat, where the majority of everyday life of Chinese and marketing activities take place.
For example, international companies can add leads from Baidu PPC in their global CRM (e.g. Salesforce) while using a localized SCRM simultaneously. Among Chinese SCRMs, WeChat (mini) apps are predestined for this purpose and WeChat’s Weimob is one of the best known ones.
Would you like to manage your customer relations in China more effectively and leverage the enormous potential of the online segment in the Middle Kingdom? A China expert like Tenba Group can help you to understand the CRM market in China and to get started with impactful social CRM. Contact Tenba Group for your FREE initial consultation.