Just cooling down after Shanghai Fashion Week we analyse the opportunities which the Chinese market brings. More and more signals coming to Europe positively states that the wholesale business is getting organized in China. It means showrooms are blossoming integrating both domestic and international designer labels.
However, it’s hard time playing social media in China since most of the channels used in western world are blocked in China. Even though, brands are not giving up on social businesses. The trick is to play by Chinese rules and with stars from Chinese World.
RULE NO 1
Get familiar with Chinese social media environment
China is paradise for luxury-related brand so you better upgrade your skills in WeChat (a mix of Path, WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram) which has 500 million users. It means new ways for support and communicate with customers (online to offline sampling campaigns, customer service and m-commerce – many brands are accepting paying via WeChat). There are also Sina Weibo, which is China’s Twitter and Weibo – less social and less of a grass-rotted media similar to mini-blogs.
In 2012 Louis Vuitton joined WeChat and obtained more than 200 million followers. The company even invested in a Chinese name: Luyi Weideng.
WeChat enables more than the basic interaction via chat (quizzes, sharing, stickers) as it offers brands a wide experience with the possibility to develop a full mini-website. Chanel has built a WeChat fashion mini-website to better manage the interaction with its followers. It has many features including the latest news, the history of the brand, new products and make-up tips.
To take the example of a Chinese brand, NPC Active Wear – clothing for athletes and bodybuilders, it mainly promotes its products and stores on Sina Weibo by using its notoriety and support from relationships (mostly stars with many followers). Therefore, its Weibo page has become an effective tool of communication. Thanks to this strategy, the brand is now very popular, especially among young Chinese people.
RULE NO 2
Get to know the target
Chinese people are well-informed, sophisticated, global and local at the same time. According to China Business Review, Chinese netizens have a strong preferences for novelty, they are early adapters of new technology and have embraced social and digital media and they enjoy the status of luxury brands and prestigue which goeas with that. On the other hand, they usually lack the emotional ties with the brand meaning that the brand loyalty is not high. Thanks to their social media, they can find out about the prices, products and their availability as well as contact customer service or be part of the loyalty program.
Sephora has created a page dedicated to its loyal customers on its WeChat mini-website. They can check their points balance and benefits, as well as update their personal details not to miss out on special offers and the latest news, and all this without leaving the app.
Italian online fashion store Yoox launched a shop inside WeChat. Not only does the retailer use it for advertising but also provides online shopping and customer service directly inside the messaging app. It allows WeChat followers to learn about the brand story, receive the latest news and updates from the retailer, and play a social game called ‘Shake the Style’. This mini game allows the brand’s WeChat followers to shake his/her phone to make various fashion matches that the user can then share directly on WeChat or other social media. It is also possible to shop with exclusive deals for WeChat followers and pay for them directly within the app. Customer service is also provided as well as chat-based fashion consulting every Friday with special discounts codes.
RULE NO 3
Sell out not only products but lifestyle as well
Chinese netizens want to have a luxury bag but also they want to know how match the bag with shoes and where they should go wearing this bag.
Michael Kors developed an app on WeChat for the opening of its flagship store in Shanghai in 2014. The primary goal was to allow fans to experience the entire Michael Kors Jet Set Experience via live images and interactive news feed. This was the first-ever live-feed app on WeChat.
British company Diageo opened the Johnnie Walker House, a brand experience space in Shanghai designed to foster appreciation of Scottish whiskey and encourage Chinese drinkers to associate it with a sophisticated lifestyle.
Company called Miele which sells luxury home appliances, opened something between store and showroom not only to sell luxury products but also to display their trademarks goods in a household context to help consumers imagine living in such an environment.
RULE NO 4
Social media are about authenticity or teaming up with an influencer who has an authentic voice
Over the last years, social media influencers have become an essential tool for brands to improve brand awareness and sales among Chinese consumers. Using social media influencers in the marketing is all about building the relationships with the people who can actually create relationships for the brand. In China you have to think big and look for large influencer’s audience. Unsurprisingly, the most successful in China are actors and actress as well as musicians.
However, as Business of Fashion noticed the new generation of influencers is able to impact the country’s fashion market: sarcastic, skeptical online subculture of influencers called “diaosi” (‘loser’). They describes on their online channels the life of millions average Chinese millennials: frustrating relatives, parental pressure about money, relationship and career prospects. It is a strong and growing spending power which shouldn’t be ignored.
RULE NO 5
In China, forums and social networks play an important role in word of mouth marketing. Apart from key opinion leaders (such as e.g. queen of Weibo, Yao Chen, who has 50 million followers) , the reputation of the brand could be increased by friends posting opinions or other netizens who are responding to the questions. Sharing the shopping experience is very common in the luxury market, because of the fact, that Chinese consumers want to show off their shopping achievements. The term ‘shai’ which means showing off the products is very popular via China’s social media channels.
Besides the style and brand identity, the label has to have an array of clients to follow the sale when thinking about sailing on the Chinese market. Even though the world of Asian social media is brand new experience for many western brands, nevertheless it’s worth to establish a marketing strategy and take advantage of booming Chinese consumption, mostly because of the forecasts that Chinese shoppers are set to more than able their current annual clothing spend to £212 bilion by 2018. Tempting enough?