astrology in China

Why Astrology is popular in China

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A trend to watch for marketing to young women

Astrology is defined as “The study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world.” It originated from the western society. Nevertheless, astrology is popular in China and has affected Chinese people’s daily lives and consumption. Astrology has even made its way into China marketing campaigns targeting young consumers.

The popularity of Astrology in China: western Astrology is more popular with Chinese people

Internet activity reveal the popularity of western Astrology in China. According to Baidu Index, during the period of 2012- 2020  Astrology was searched 16 times more on Baidu than Chinese zodiac. According to Zhihu, 474 topics that are related to Astrology are discussed by Zhihu users in China.

Searches of western astrology on baidu

[Photo source: Baidu Index, ‘Search index of Astrology VS Chinese Zodiac’]

The history of Astrology in China

Even though Astrology has been widely discussed by Chinese people in the last decade, it has existed in Chinese society for more than 1000 years. In Sui Dynasty (581-618), Indian monks firstly introduced Astrology to Chinese society. During Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), Kang Youwei, the famous Chinese philosopher and politician standardized the translation of Astrology in China, which has been used in the following years until now.  In the 1990s, Western astrology began to seep into Chinese people’s daily lives. The internet has fostered and spread the popularity of Astrology in China.

Some Chinese consider astrology in who to date and who to hire

During social occasions, Chinese people discuss the latest gossip and tidbits about their astrological profiles. According to The New York Times, social media accounts with millions of followers share weekly horoscope forecasts. On dating APPS, users show their zodiac signs alongside their age, salary, car and home ownership status. More and more Chinese consider astrology  during all kinds of major life decisions including relationship advice, making friends, having babies, and even hiring employees.

Profile of Chinese Astrology fans: dominated by females and youth

Chinese people with different backgrounds hold diverse attitudes and perceptions towards Astrology.

According to a survey conducted by woshipm, 82% of the responders believe in Astrology and females tend to believe it more. Additionally, people aged below 25 are more likely to be Chinese Astrology fans. 47% of the responders read articles related to Astrology occasionally while merely 9% of them read them every day.

Chinese people's perception of Astrology

[Data source: Research Center of Cheetah Mobile, ‘Chinese people’s attitudes towards Astrology (2019)’]

Frequency of browsing Astrology content

[Data source: Research Center of Cheetah Mobile, ‘Frequency of browsing content of Astrology (2019)’]

Regarding to content, Chinese Astrology fans are likely to know about personality analysis, lucky numbers/dates/items and relationship insightsadvice.

Why do Chinese like Western astrology

[Data source: Research Center of Cheetah Mobile, ‘Popularity of Astrology in China’]

In terms of the channels, Chinese Astrology fans access the information regarding Astrology, websites, Astrology apps and influencers’ social media accounts are the common platforms.

Channels to access Astrology content in China

[Data source: Research Center of Cheetah Mobile, ‘How Chinese access Astrology related content’]

Rationales for the popularity of Astrology in China: obtaining psychological comfort matters 

Gaining psychological comfort, self-recognition and entertainment, and socializing with others explain Chinese Astrology fans’ obsession with it. Many responders indicate that they turn to astrology for clarity during tough times, which can provide psychological comfort. Chinese Astrology fans feel their lives are out of their control, and reading articles related to Astrology would ease their mind as they can understand the forces behind their destiny. For those who responded gaining self-recognition, they believe that people from different zodiac signs has specific talents. By discovering and  amplifying the talent, these people can maximize their success.

Some answers from Zhihu users have verified these reasons and they are in favor of Astrology. Psychological comfort or related terms is a common  reasons put forth by Chinese astrology fans. Many of them feel that the description of their zodiac signs are accurate as these match their personalities. Some of them mentioned that their belief in Astrology is related to their relationships.

[Photo source: Zhihu, Chinese netizens explaining why Astrology is popular in China]

From the academic perspective, an author from The Outlook Magazine argues that Astrology has been prevalent since ancient China as it was a mean of forecasting national incidents, wars and harvest. Thus this has been a tradition in China, anticipating one’s fate based on Astrology. Nowadays Chinese people prefer the western Astrology instead of Chinese horoscope is due to the fact that the west Astrology is more complex and supported by art works and literature, while Chinese horoscope is relatively abstract and hard to understand.

Astrology market in China: fostered by social media behavior

Social media has been an incubator that has fostered the Astrology market in China as astrology features low barrier to entry, entertainment-orientation and socialization. According to WeChat official accounts, 313 results are tagged as “Astrology” and Uncle Tongdao is the most popular with the search index of 974.1. On Weibo, Jin Li Da Wang (Koi) and Tao Bai Bai have 20.78 million followers and 7.95 million followers respectively. 

Some companies have developed Astrology apps in Astrology market in China. In comparison with Astrology promoted on social media accounts, Astrology apps provide diversified services such as paid Q&A, paid anticipation and Astrology lessons. Moreover, their services are not limited to Astrology but also dice, luck tests and personality tests.

Astrology APPs in China

[Photo source: woshipm, ‘Astrology apps in China’]

Case study: the success of Uncle Tongdao

Uncle Tongdao a popular astrology brand in China

[Photo source: meihua.info, ‘Uncle Tongdao’]

Uncle Tongdao is a successful Astrology brand in China. In 2014, Uncle Tongdao went viral on the Internet as its cartoons and images fitted Chinese netizens’ appetite. By combining Astrology related culture and the 2-dimention culture, Uncle Tongdao is able to win the heart of Chinese Astrology fans. By the end of 2018, Uncle Tongdao had more than 60 million followers on social media and become the representative in Astrology in China. 

The business model of Uncle Tongdao is innovated in China as it combines IP operation, IP authorization, IP E-commerce, IP community and IP crossover marketing. As a result, the company generates its business eco-system and keeps producing business value for its partners. Uncle Tongdao has become one of the most valuable Intellectual Property entities in China.

Astrology co-branding in China

Apart from the online sector, Uncle Tongdao also expands its business area to offline sector by establishing subsidiaries that carry on publishing, souvenir and dramas, etc. On May 20th, Along with many other co-branding ventures, Uncle Tongdao alongside with I-ORANGE, an advertising company set up pop-up wedding dress stores. It was an event for single people and encouraged them to face their relationship status regardless of people’s judgments. It turned out to be a successful campaign as the societal pressures of singles is quite a headache for Chinese young adults.  

Astrology marketing campaign in China

[Photo source: meihua.info, ‘Pop-up wedding dress store, an Astrology marketing campaign in China’]

Astrology in the hospitality industry

Uncle Tongdao also collaborated with Atour and established a hotel that features Astrology culture in Chengdu. The business vision is providing a comfort zone for young people to alleviate stress.

astrology marketing campaign in China

[Photo source: meihua.info, ‘Uncle Tongdao x Atour Hotel, an Astrology marketing campaign in China’]

Ride your start sign to work

In 2017, Uncle Tongdao collaborated with ofo, a bike-sharing company in China and launched some Astrology-themed shared bikes in China. Uncle Tongdao claimed that,  riding the personal zodiac signbrings luck to commuters in China. 

Astrology co-branding in China

[Photo source: meihua.info, ‘Uncle Tongdao x ofo bikes’]

Future trend of the Astrology market in China: focusing on platforms, core values and big data

In the foreseeable future, the development of Astrology market in China ought to innovate its channels and content of products. Finding the right platform

Chinese Astrology fans cannot bother downloading apps to access Astrology information. Instead, WeChat official accounts or mini programs are the more convenient platforms.

Focusing on mainstream culture

Secondly, brands should focus on mainstream culture and subculture that are popular with youth in China so that they can alter their products and tailor to different needs. Astrology is a trend to watch for marketing to millennial and gen Z consumers.

Providing comfort

Furthermore, Astrology companies in China should always maintain the core value of satisfying users’ needs by including psychological comfort, positive energy and stress relief in their messages. Considering the fact that Chinese Astrology fans turn to the art for clarity during tough times.

Getting technical

Last but not least, AI and big data will be applicable in Astrology market in China since they are able to make Astrology more convincing. Since 2018, some Astrology APPs have been developing and testing the feasibility of this application and the result is yet to be known.

Popular Astrology topic: How Chinese people from different zodiac signs behave in the relationship?

Speaking of relationships, Chinese youth, especially girls, like to relate personalities to zodiac signs. Undoubtedly, Astrology serves as a reference when they make decisions on their relationships. The table listed below is the summary of characteristics of different zodiac signs. Whether it is reliable or not, it varies case by case!

Author: Amelia Han

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