The Forrester Wave™: Digital Agencies In China — Strategy And Execution, Q4 2016 is now live. It’s the second time we have evaluated digital agencies’ capabilities in the Chinese market; we published our first report on the topic in Q1 2015.

To reach and engage with more than 700 million online consumers, B2C marketing professionals have put digital atop their agendas. However, marketers in China are far from ready to go digital-first on their own, and need agency support particularly in the following three areas:

  • Customer understanding and segmentation. Digital consumers’ behaviors are changing fast, and marketers must better understand, reach, and engage with them. Marketers expect to get more data services from agencies, especially industry-relevant customer insights, to help them better understand their customers.
  • Multichannel strategy. Marketers increasingly realize that siloed thinking fails to tap the full potential of digital business, and their efforts are often disconnected when supporting digital marketing initiatives across platforms and channels. As a result, marketers’ demand for multichannel solutions is increasing.
  • Creative strategy. Marketers need creative strategies to improve the return on their digital marketing investments. Content marketing, creating relevant ideas, defining customer segments, and customer journey mapping are critical to developing an effective creative strategy where the ultimate goal is to deliver business outcomes.

The overall digital agency landscape in China includes two types of players: full-service digital agencies and specialty digital agencies. Specialty agencies may only offer one service; full-service digital agencies are the best partners for marketers because of their broad coverage of digital marketing capabilities and strategic services.

In the Wave, we evaluated the eight most significant full-service digital agencies in the market — BlueFocus Digital, Isobar, OgilvyOne, Possible, Razorfish, Social Touch, VML, and Wunderman — across 29 criteria grouped into three high-level buckets: current offering, strategy, and market presence.

OgilvyOne, Razorfish, and Isobar are Leaders in the Wave because they excel at helping clients develop digital marketing and business strategies, supported by compelling tools and technologies. They also have a corporate vision focused on helping clients address business challenges in digital transformation.

For a full breakdown of each agency’s capabilities, download the report and its corresponding Excel sheet. Thanks to all the agencies that participated — they dedicated a substantial amount of resources into this process, and we appreciate everyone’s efforts.