Providing a link to China for local firms
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Providing a link to China for local firms

A digital marketer is rapidly establishing partnerships with China's online platforms in a bid to open up the vast market to Thai entrepreneurs

Ms Phanavika spends two weeks each month in China to maintain close ties with partners and clients.
Ms Phanavika spends two weeks each month in China to maintain close ties with partners and clients.

Digital marketer DigiLink Thailand, helmed by chief executive Phanavika Limpabandhu, has ambitions to become a partner of Thai entrepreneurs seeking to tap the vast Chinese market.

The company leverages the power of its Chinese partners’ social media platforms to help Thai entrepreneurs penetrate the mainland.

The move comes amid an influx of cheap Chinese products into Thailand, causing some to push for Thailand to make more inroads into China to even the trade balance.

She said DigiLink has also wooed Chinese travellers to visit Thailand, enjoying the local products and services.

Recognised as a “social media expert for the Chinese market” by her agency peers, Ms Phanavika said her vision is to drive cross-border growth.


She is from a family with a background in business and politics. Her grandfather, Prapas, was Thailand’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, and her father, Prapitwet, was a successful businessman.

This background gave her a global perspective that she now applies to her leadership roles, Ms Phanavika told the Bangkok Post.

Upon graduating high school, her mother recognised her linguistic aptitude and sent her to study in China.

She recalled her time at Shanghai International Studies University as a transformative experience, immersing her in the intricacies of Chinese society and culture.

After returning to Thailand for further education, Ms Phanavika enrolled in the Faculty of Economics at Kasetsart University, then later decided to pursue international marketing communication at Assumption University (ABAC), where she honed both Chinese and English skills.

Her career journey led her through various roles, culminating in the founding of her own agency, The Fifth Haus.

DigiLink Thailand stemmed from a chance reconnection with her Hong Kong friend, the managing director of DigiLink Asia, a Hong Kong-based firm providing online marketing services to brands targeting Chinese consumers.

Recognising a shared vision, they joined forces to establish DigiLink Thailand as a subsidiary of DigiLink Asia.

Ms Phanavika holds 90% of the shares in DigiLink Thailand, while DigiLink Asia holds 10%.


The group secured a valuable official partnership with Mafengwo, a leading travel platform boasting more than 130 million downloads, she said.

Mafengwo’s platform offers a comprehensive suite of travel services, including booking accommodation, flights and tours, catering to independent travellers.

The partnership with Mafengwo provides a crucial bridge for Thai businesses, connecting them with Chinese travellers and promoting their restaurants, attractions and services.

A collaboration with WeChat further expands the company’s services, propelling DigiLink Thailand to prominence among Thai and Chinese businesses, said Ms Phanavika.

“Even during the pandemic, we remained a trusted intermediary, serving clients who sought to position their businesses for future growth. We collaborated with the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Chengdu office, becoming the sole Asean tourism organisation to execute a successful, high-impact campaign,” she said.

The Chinese New Year campaign via Xiaohongshu, a leading lifestyle platform, generated hashtags from users on more than 114 million posts, said Ms Phanavika.


She said DigiLink Thailand has secured partnerships with key Chinese platforms such as Xiaohongshu (Red Little Book), which has 300 million users, and Douyin, a China-exclusive platform similar to TikTok, which has 600 million users.

Other partners include WeChat, with 1.36 billion daily active users, Mafengwo, and Weibo social media platform with 260 million users.

Recognising the growing complexity, Ms Phanavika restructured DigiLink Thailand, clearly defining operations for existing and newly acquired companies.


DigiLink Thailand has empowered more than 30 Thai companies to expand their reach into the lucrative Chinese market.

“We provide in-depth recommendations, matching products with the most suitable platforms,” she said.

“For instance, if you’re looking to sell cosmetics to Chinese consumers, we’d recommend Xiaohongshu. We guide clients to the most effective platforms for their specific products, conducting thorough analyses of product strengths and weaknesses, identifying areas for improvement and optimisation to ensure success in the Chinese market. Our goal is to establish ‘a true partnership’ with our clients, where their success is our success.”

The company’s Chinese team takes the lead in crafting detailed media plans, outlining the strategies and platforms to be utilised. The Thai team contributes fresh ideas and coordinates the overall execution.

This dual-pronged approach, grounded in the principle of “Chinese content for Chinese audiences”, sets DigiLink Thailand apart from other agencies that simply translate Thai materials for the Chinese market, said Ms Phanavika.

“We believe in immersing ourselves in the Chinese mindset, understanding the nuances of their preferences and behaviours,” she said.


China is a market with immense purchasing power and Chinese can travel to Thailand conveniently, without hassles.

“While the perception of Thailand as a tourist destination among Chinese visitors and investors is positive, we need to enhance their understanding of our unique offerings,” Ms Phanavika said.

“In my view, Thailand’s future lies in developing every province to accommodate new travellers, not just from China, but around the globe. This presents an opportunity for them to spend their money in our country.

“We must showcase our standout products and highlight the best of each province, emphasising cuisine and hospitality. We should plan for travellers to stay with us for four to five days, creating a mutually beneficial tourism ecosystem.”

She said tourism opens doors, commerce promotes products, and a circular economy emerges.

“As our products gain recognition, we must consider Thailand’s future direction,” said Ms Phanavika.

“This chain reaction can have ripple effects throughout society.”

Despite China’s economic slowdown, she said there is a lot of untapped opportunities in large and mid-sized cities with high purchasing power.

According to Statista, China is the world’s largest outbound travel market in terms of spending at US$262 billion.

Ms Phanavika said independent Chinese travellers spend 40,000-100,000 baht each per trip. If Thailand can attract 10% of this group, she said the income boost to the nation would be massive.

According to Alipay data for Chinese tourists on Labour Day, Thailand was the No.6 destination, following Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, South Korea and the US.

According to WeChat Pay, Thailand was the No.3 tourist destination on Labour Day, following Hong Kong and Macau.

“Overseas Chinese spending through Alipay has increased in 2024 by 77%. We need to use digital marketing channels to target independent travellers, persuading them to fly to our country,” she said.


In the first quarter this year, online retail sales in China reached 3.3 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 12.4%, said Ms Phanavika.

Service consumption continued to lead the growth, with online service consumption gaining 28.5%, including a 95% increase in online travel and a 27.8% uptick in online dining.

In China, there are special department stores where merchants live-stream products.

Regarding Chinese products flooding the Thai market, she said if they are quality, affordable and benefit local buyers, the market should determine whether the goods are accepted.

DigiLink Thailand brings Chinese brands to the Thai market, said Ms Phanavika.

Most of the Thai brands with sales potential in China are fast-moving consumer goods, she said.

For Thai brands to succeed in China, Ms Phanavika said they need to have inventory, channel partners, and digital marketing strategies to address target markets and leverage live commerce to attract users.

Chinese buyers are now considering products with higher quality, indicating they have conducted research before purchasing, she said.

The insight of targeted customers and communication on effective social media platforms to potential buyers determines whether Thai brands can successfully sell in China or attract Chinese tourists to Thailand, said Ms Phanavika.

By the end of this year, she said DigiLink Thailand will launch a new platform called “Wei Tai Qua”, meaning Hello Thailand, as a venue where Chinese tourists can book wellness, spa and food services in Thailand.


As the local digital agency landscape becomes increasingly crowded, DigiLink Thailand differentiates itself by acting as a trusted partner with strong alliances in China, Ms Phanavika said.

“We believe our expertise in the Chinese market makes us an option for Thai brands seeking to expand their reach,” she said.

“I spend two weeks each month in China to maintain close ties with our partners and clients.”

Ms Phanavika said this commitment underscores her dedication to delivering results and upholding the company’s reputation.

“DigiLink Asia Group plans to launch an initial public offering on the Singapore Stock Exchange within five years,” she said.

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