Your Complete Guide To App Localization in China

App localisation is one of the most effective ways to gain market share and sales globally. However, when it comes to China, app localisation means adapting your app for a completely different user base which has little to nothing in common with your existing users. While this may seem challenging to international apps, it’s also a massive opportunity.

With the biggest number of smartphone users at over 850 million, China is the world’s biggest app market. Getting app localization right for the Chinese market could mean hitting the jackpot.

AdChina.io has helped hundreds of iOS Apps succeed the China market. To see how AdChina.io can help you get started with advertising on top channels hassle-free create a free account today.

How To Localize Your App For China Market?

Localizing your app for the China market means redesigning for a different culture, respecting local legislation, translating your content into Chinese and cleverly marketing your app across various marketing channels. 

Depending on whether your app is Android or iOS, there are different other localisation efforts involved. 

For instance, for Android Apps, you need to negotiate with different Android app stores in China since Google Play Store is unavailable. Each of the 200 different Android app stores have their own rules and regulations. It can be very time-consuming and expensive to get your app on these App Stores.

On the other hand, it’s easier to enter China with an iOS app. There’s only one official Chinese Apple App Store to list your app and the guidelines to optimize your App are the same as the international Apple App Store. Moreover, Apple fans in China are loyal to the brand, which helps maintain a consistent user base for your iOS apps. 

Since only one in four Chinese smartphone users install foreign apps, you need an app localization and app marketing strategy to compete with local apps. Here are a few steps that you can follow to ensure that your app is not lost in the Chinese market. 

1. Find A New App Name To Cross Language Barrier

Changing your app’s name to a local Chinese name will make your app more appealing to the Chinese users. Even renowned international brands have changed their names to gain popularity in China. For instance, Coca Cola in China is Ke Kou Ke Le, which means ‘delicious happiness’. Likewise, BMW is ‘Bao ma’ which means Precious Horse. 

You can work with a local partner to come up with a name that is close to your brand image and also makes a positive, lasting impact on Chinese users.

Expert tip – Even if you choose to go forward with a Chinese translation of your App’s name, choose a careful phonetic translation and add your English brand name in between brackets. You can also add ‘Chinese Version’ in Chinese language after your brand name to let users know that the app is localized for their needs. 

2. Implement Local Payment Methods

AliPay and WeChat Pay are the two most popular payment methods in China and they can be easily integrated into your app. Most App Stores also accept payments from these platforms. 

But if you list your app on stores that don’t accept payment from these payment methods, you may be required to install different billing SDKs. It’s important to note that common international payment methods like Credit Cards don’t work in China.

3. Promote Your App on Chinese Channels

The best way to promote your app in China is to build a community on local channels such as WeChat and Weibo. Apart from posting content relevant to your target audience, you can also release special discounts and offers.

You can also advertise your App on Chinese advertising channels such as Baidu, Tencent, WeChat, Douyin and Toutiao. With laser-focussed targeting on these channels, you can get a large share of users for your app.

4. Adapt Your Photos And Videos To Chinese Market

Having localized photos and screenshots in your App store listing can also make a huge impact and make your app memorable for Chinese users. Most people decide to download an app based on the visuals that they see and don’t spend a lot of time reading the app description. 

Using Chinese visuals instead of the same images as the international version of the app can make a huge difference and attract a higher number of users. 

5. Pay Attention To Translation

When localizing your app for the China market, do not depend on automated translation. Chinese language is complex and human translation is required to ensure that the messages are communicated appropriately to your target audience. 

It’s also important to note that ​​there are two writing systems in the Chinese language. Simplified Chinese is used in China and Singapore, while Traditional Chinese is used in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Depending on your target market, you can choose one over the other. 

Expert advice – When translating your app content, make sure to respect local syntax and terminology. Don’t miss out on translating titles, descriptions, texts inside images, error messages, and feedback requests.

6. Respect Chinese Rules, Laws and Regulations

The Cyberspace Administration of China is responsible for setting up rules for app developers and app stores regarding data privacy, cybersecurity, and censorship. You need to stay at the top of all the changes in the Chinese app market and keep your products aligned to the regulations. 

These laws are published in Chinese, so you can take help from local experts to meet the requirements. For instance, AdChina.io can help you run ad campaigns and post content in accordance with Chinese laws and regulations. 

7. Adapt The Interface

Since Chinese words and phrases take up around 30% less space than their English equivalent, your app interface needs to be designed accordingly. 

The brand colors and design layout that you choose should also be localized for the Chinese audience. The clean, minimal look that you’re used to seeing in international apps isn’t what Chinese users look for. Infact, most Chinese apps are densely packed with notification icons, features, badges and a lot more.

Similarly, for the colors, you can choose from different hues that have a cultural significance in China. You should also consider adding important features such as geolocation, chat functionality and QR codes as they are widely popular in Chinese apps.  

Other Tips To Optimize Your App For China Market 

  1. In China, ‘share’ is the most clicked CTA button which means that your app should be optimized for sharing on social channels. 
  2. Chinese people prefer brighter colors so design your app to minimize the dull colors like gray and black.
  3. Customized support is also important for Chinese users. Consider hiring a local team to provide excellent service, especially if it’s a paid app.
  4. Since Chinese consumers are very discount-driven, you can leverage national sale events like the Singles Day to promote their app with special offers.
  5. Local hosting is important while localizing your app for China. You can take help from local partners to find hosting in Mainland China. Alternatively, you can host in nearby countries like Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, and Indonesia.
  6. Optimize your app to consume less data to make it more user-friendly as mobile plans in China don’t offer unlimited data.
  7. For audio and video content, you should use Mandarin or Cantonese. As per recent estimates, 64% of the population speak Mandarin.

Ready to grow your iOS App in China? AdChina.io can help! 

AdChina.io has helped international iOS apps grow in China market and acquire users through advertising.

We’ll help you plan, launch, optimize, and scale your campaigns across the most prominent channels in China — all with just one tool!

Schedule your free AdChina.io demo today. 

Your Ultimate Free Guide To Advertise In China​

Fill out this form to access the checklist that helps international businesses prepare to win in China market.

  • Learn the basics to get started with marketing in China

  • Grow your digital presence on China’s #1 Marketing Channel – Baidu

  • Get ready to run targeted ads that drive the best ROI

Get a FREE actionable guide to market your app in China

  • An actionable check-list to win in China market.
  • Lesser-known growth strategies to help you get the most of your budget.
  • Complete overview of China app market size & trends – we did all the research, so that you don’t have to.

See AdChina.io in Action

Tell us a bit about yourself, and we’ll connect you with a Chinese marketing expert to show you possibilities of advertising in China using our platform.

Estimated Audience Size

Audience Targeting

Control Over Campaign Data

Want to get started immediately? Signup for a free AdChina.io account