What is Bilibili and how it works in China 2024


Bilibili (Chinese 哔哩哔哩) is a video sharing platform based on user generated content. The platform was launched in 2010 and has grown exponentially during these years: from around 50 million monthly active users in 2017 to over 202 million users in 2020.

According to data released by QuestMobile TRUTH, Bilibili is the favorite app for Chinese young people under 24. It is not suffering from competition from apps like Kuaishou and its continuous transformation makes it original.

The evolution of this platform

Until few years ago it was just a social content sharing platform, now it's an online community that publish and share contents related to anime, cartoons, games, music, painting, fashion, life, technology and other favorite topics of young people.

Bilibili has managed to expand beyond its starting categories (anime, comics, games) and is now an entertainment powerhouse. The platform added support for e-commerce, technology and lifestyle contents, which helped it become a mainstream platform with huge advertising potential.

When compared to major Western video platforms it would be comparable to YouTube in terms of users, features and functionality. However, the comparison stops at these 3 terms.

Social Commerce Bilibili home page PC screenshot
Image credits: Bilibili home page. Photo: PC screenshot

Like YouTube, Bilibili focuses on user-generated content and building communities on certain topics. Unlike YouTube, however, it paved the way for an innovative community feature called "bullet comments" (the same feature was added by Douyin to his platform).

This allows users to leave a quick comment on a video they are watching, the comments are basically taken from the side of the screen, hence the name "bullet comments". Another similarity to Western video platforms is its live streaming service which is basically the Chinese alternative to Twitch.

An unstoppable growth

Based on the powerful user community, Bilibili has now become the birthplace of Chinese Generation Z (born in 90/00) online pop culture. 80% of users are young people aged 18 to 35 and will become the users with the highest consumption capacity.

Its business model has encouraged many content creators to use its platform. According to official information, the number of active uploaders per month on the platform has reached 350,000, with a monthly contribution of 1.16 million content and an average daily view of 320 million.

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In addition to this, it has also achieved great financial results. Total net revenues for 2020 were 3,840 million yuan ($ 588.5 million) and represent a 91% increase over the previous year.

This quick growth has also caught the attention of advertisers and Bilibili has become a good place for the video advertising market in China. Advertising revenue in 2020 increased 149% year-on-year, and most of this increase came from platform performance-based advertising.

It is also in a great condition for the investments, as it has the support from Alibaba and Tencent, which own 7.2% and 13.3% of shares respectively. In addition, Bilibili recently announced that Sony has bought the 4.98% of the company property.

The introduction of the red envelopes

Bilibili is also testing a new chat feature that allows users to send lucky packets, called red envelopes, filled with digital coins.

These digital coins can be used to purchase virtual gifts for video creators and also to pay for paid contents. If users will collect enough virtual coins, they can also purchase a subscription to some services available in the same platform.

Bilibili red envelopes with digital coins to use in the platform
Image credits: Bilibili red envelopes. Photo: Bilibili Wechat account post

Users can access the new feature on the chat interface 一起 看 (literally translated "let's have a look together") and send red envelopes in the chat. After the red envelope has been sent, all users that joined the event can have the option to "tear it off".

Sending red envelopes online has become part of social life and business since WeChat launched the first digital red envelopes in 2014. Many apps including Alipay, Douyin, Kuaishou, and Pinduoduo have all added digital red envelopes function to their platforms.

This choice could mean a further transformation of the platform, which is quickly becoming a social commerce. We had wrote about it already last May (you can read the article by clicking here).

Selling in China with Bilibili

To promote the brand on Bilibili there are several options, the easiest one is to open a shop. Users can purchase products by clicking on the "commodities" column on the homepage, without having to go to third-party sites for checkout and payment.

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The main items sold on the platform are cosmetics and skin care products, but sales related to the gaming sector are also growing. Since 2019 there is a mini-program on the platform where celebrities sell cosmetics, subject to a commercial agreement with the brand requesting the demonstration.

Another way to sell on Bilibili is to collaborate with KOL or content creators related to the product category of the brand and let them promote the products through videos, contests and live events.

Unlike other platforms (for example Kuaishou) it is possible to add third party links in the videos uploaded to the platform. Content creators can place links to their products in the so-called "danmu" or under the videos. Additionally, there is an area on the purchase page where users can leave permanent comments.

To advertise the products, there is also the possibility of inserting traditional display ads (like on Youtube). This helps advertisers target their audience with a personalized campaign.

Since Alibaba invested in Bilibili in April 2019, the platform's focus has shifted from user acquisition to e-commerce. This is mainly due to the emergence of new e-commerce mini programs, which are currently the most efficient way to sell on the platform.

Bilibili workd event 2020
Image credits: Bilibili World 2020. Photo: AP

How to take advantage of Bilibili?

Bilibili is an excellent platform for brands that want to sell in China, which can offer their products to specific KOLs in the most suitable category and in the meantime open a shop within it, sponsoring it with targeted advertisements in addition to an effective marketing campaign. .

It is important to join the many events related to e-commerce in China as a test to try the strategies to follow throughout the year. If the choices made prove effective, they will be replicated in subsequent events, on the occasion of the most important events of the year (eg the singles' day).

Tools like Noziroh Hub are essential for successfully selling products in China and managing export processes. The risks of failure are around the corner and only through in-depth market research is it possible to verify the feasibility of a project and avoid unexpected events.

With Noziroh Hub it is possible to manage all commercial steps with a single reference: market research, opening/management of stores in the main Chinese e-commerce platforms, storage of goods, order fulfillment, opening/management of Chinese social profiles, packaging and private label.

Author: Alessandro Ave

Main image credits: Bilibili logo. Photo: Bilibili's WeChat account

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