APAC Spotlight: Affiliate Marketing in Taiwan
Taiwan is strategically located in close proximity to two of the largest economies (Mainland China and Japan) and one of the fastest growing regions in the world (Southeast Asia). APAC online marketplaces such as Taobao, Shopee and Lazada, have helped to boost e-commerce growth in Taiwan. With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting physical stores since early 2020, Taiwanese consumers have increasingly switched to online shopping, resulting in the further growth of digital marketing.
Taiwan is an attractive market for global businesses to build their online presence using performance marketing channels. Brands are adopting the affiliate marketing channel and its low-risk pay-on-performance payment model. Due to Taiwan’s unique affiliate marketing landscape, it’s vital to adapt affiliate marketing campaigns to market nuances and plan strategically before entering the market.
Taiwan has a high internet penetration rate of 90%, with over 21 million people using the internet. Interestingly, nearly all Taiwanese internet users prefer using mobile devices to stay connected.
Examples of popular cross-border commerce purchases include clothing, designer bags and home appliances. The top three countries involved in cross-border commerce with Taiwan are China, Japan and the United States.
Taiwan’s online retail revenue reached $12.2 billion in 2020, registering a significant annual growth of 19%. E-commerce users reached 57% in early 2021, among some of the highest levels in Asia.
Across APAC, many local affiliate networks play a similar role to sub-networks in the U.S. and EMEA. This is no different in Taiwan. As Mandarin Chinese is commonly spoken, language barriers can significantly hinder direct partnerships between global brands and local affiliates. Affiliate networks provide brands with quick access to the Taiwanese market when there may be limited linguistic capacity.
Popular local networks include Affiliates One (also known as VibrantAds) and iChannels, as well as some regional networks such as ChineseAN and Optimise Media. One unique feature of Taiwan’s affiliate marketing landscape is the prevalence of blogging led by local platforms Pixnet and Xuite. Some popular verticals in the blogging space include food, travel, beauty, fashion and technology.
Brands can easily tap into the large pool of bloggers through sub-affiliate networks. Using a moderate flat fee, bloggers can produce articles to promote brands, making it a cost-efficient way of running content marketing via the affiliate channel.
Thanks to high social media penetration among the population, influencer marketing is growing in popularity across Taiwan. While YouTube and Facebook occupy the top two spots among the most used social media platforms, LINE beats Instagram and takes the third position with 88% of total internet users.
Many brands are using influencer networks – companies that give brands access to thousands of influencers – to reach a growing number of social media users. Influencer activity is most commonly paid on a flat fee or hybrid payment model, which usually includes a CPA and a flat fee. Popular influencer networks in Taiwan include AsiaKOL and KOL Radar. To help drive revenue and increase brand awareness, many brands are recruiting influencer networks into their affiliate programs.
The official language in Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese, and this is commonly used in business communication. Because ancestors of most Taiwanese were from southern coastal provinces in Mainland China (Fujian, Guangdong, etc.), Hokkien and Hakka are two dialects widely spoken in Taiwan, but less in a business context. In order to effectively communicate with affiliate partners in Taiwan, it is necessary to have Mandarin speaking capabilities.
While emails are used for written communication, people in Taiwan usually use LINE for messaging and conference calls. The LINE app dominates Taiwan, with 21 million monthly active users among the population of 23.84 million. Affiliates in Taiwan tend to include their LINE accounts in the email signature for easy contact. During introductions with partners, people usually exchange LINE contacts, you can also include this on business cards.
In terms of the communication style, the concept of “Face” (i.e., a person’s reputation and dignity) plays an important part in Taiwan’s culture and reflects on how the Taiwanese communicate. Taiwanese are polite and conservative, always looking to maintain harmony and preserve face for both parties. As a result, they tend to communicate indirectly and contemplatively in order to avoid any potential offence and embarrassment to the counterpart.
Taiwan’s culture is largely influenced by that from Mainland China, given the proximity and historic connections. The culture affects how people maintain partnerships in affiliate programs. Taiwanese are generally polite and considerate. For example, they usually use both hands to give out and receive business cards, and carefully read the business card before putting it aside or away.
For greetings, it’s common to shake hands with direct eye contact to show respect. Hierarchical orders are strictly preserved, whereby people are greeted in the order of seniority. Incorrect order of greetings could lead to loss of “face” by both parties.
In business meetings, punctuality is highly valued, so it’s important to keep track of meeting time slots and be punctual. There could be an agenda, but it’s not necessarily followed, as it usually serves as a starting point for other relevant ideas and wider conversations.
For new affiliate programs in Taiwan, leveraging local e-commerce and online shopping events can help gain quick exposure in front of Taiwanese consumers. Here are some key dates to consider for campaign planning and affiliate partner engagement:
- Valentine’s Day (February 14th): gifting season for couples, especially the younger generation.
- International Women’s Day (March 8th): global event celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This is particularly popular in Taiwan, with brands promoting women’s products such as beauty, clothing and accessories.
- 618 Shopping Day (June 18th): mid-year shopping season, which first started as an anniversary celebration of Chinese online marketplace JD.com.
- Singles’ Day (November 11th): regional shopping holiday observed in Taiwan for online merchants to run thematic campaigns.
Affiliate marketing has been gaining popularity in recent years across the APAC region, with businesses increasingly leveraging the cost-efficient pay-on-performance model after the pandemic impacted global economies. Taiwan is an attractive destination for global brands looking to expand into new markets, but a local approach must be taken to creating a successful affiliate marketing strategy.