The country’s 855 million digital consumers - among some of the most avid users of mobile phones and social media in the world - represent one of the biggest prizes for global marketers.

But things are getting a lot tougher: growth of online retail sales is cooling, dipping from the heady 40 and 50 percent annual rates seen in the early part of the decade to 25 percent compound annual growth in the past few years.

These and other challenges - such as the rising sophistication of Chinese consumers - are upping the ante for consumer-facing companies. Brands looking for the next wave of digitally fueled growth in China are grappling with a number of thorny questions.