The Future of Retail : China Experience

Retail in China

Despite the coronavirus pandemic occurring at the end of 2019 in China, retail sales now increased 34.2% compared to the previous year in March 2020.

China has always been dominant in the e-commerce market, but indeed, the unexpected crisis has strengthened advanced retail methods from now on and for the coming years.

Go for Live Streaming

Live streaming sessions are made for direct products’ demonstrations and authentic personal feedback. KOL (Key Opinion Leaders), KOC (Key Opinion Consumers), virtual influencers or shop’s vendors can introduce products and thus, convince watchers / potential customers of buying it.

Live streaming sessions are more and more intended to be entertaining, informative and well organized with links that redirect to the product’s page, instant animations and flash sales. It gives the viewer the feeling to watch a show and to participate in it (ask questions, click on links, send tips…).

At left : Li Jiaqi’s live streaming 6 hours session during 20th of May. At right : Viya’s live streaming 7 hours show during 21st of May

Choosing the period of broadcasting is decisive. Special days as Chinese New Year, Mother’s Day or 520 Festival are famous events that can bring a lot of viewers who are looking for recommendations of gifts. 

Highlight Social Commerce

In 2020, the online retail sales in China reached 11,760.1 billion yuan, grew by 10.9% year on year. Social media represent company’s website. Using Chinese social media and e-commerce functions make the customers purchase while having social interactions.

From eMarketer x InsiderIntelligence.com, January 2021

Wechat has deep mobile penetration and is essential for all kinds of needs : grocery purchase, food ordering, content sharing, direct shopping facilities…

Social commerce is user centric and it is also building a consumers community with centralized purchase data. 

Improve Client Purchasing Online Experience

Dior used AI for delivering beauty advice to customers from its Wechat’s mini program called “Dior’s AI-powered Skin”. The function is quick and simple : after taking a picture of themselves and gathering some basic information, the mini program sends you a skin report with some products’ suggestions. After that, customers can request products’ samples mentioned and even ask for a beauty consultant.

Dior’s AI-powered Skin mini program

Think about a Phygital Strategy

Even though online shopping is more and more chosen by customers, brands that already have physical stores can implement a strong traffic both online and offline.

Brands can combine the best aspects of digital and physical commerce to create the ideal integrated experience for the consumer and new opportunities for retailers and marketers.

At left : Randomevent pop-up store in Hangzhou. At right : Miu Miu x Levi’s pop-up store in Shanghai

Some level of phygital implementation is likely necessary for the continuation of shopping in physical storefronts, especially for Chinese Millennial and Generation Z consumers, who are highly digitally connected. 

520 Festival : Celebrating Love in China

520 Festival in China

The 20th of May in China, couples send to each other by message : “520”, pronounced “wu er ling” whose sound is similar to “Wo ai ni” 我爱你, a way to celebrate love, equivalent to Valentine’s Day in western countries. 520 has become a love-themed holiday and it is the best time for brands to promote their products and services as well.

How brands celebrate love differently ?

Here are 3 campaigns that give off a message built around a storytelling rather than a product :

Love Yourself & Girl Empowerment

“You not only have to know where to fight,

But also to know the moment when to have a break,

And to enjoy the wonderful things of life” – He Sui

This year, Victoria’s Secret, the famous American lingerie brand, launched a campaign focused on women aspirations and self-esteem called “Be oneself” (做自己) in the format of an intimate interview.

For this second episode of “Be oneself” series, the Chinese female model He Sui answered several questions about her woman’s journey, dreams and difficulties, to which she sincerely replied that embracing inner self and enjoying the wonderful things in daily life are very important to build her own woman identity.

Pictures from Victoria’s Secret’s Wechat official account

The interview is interspersed with photos of He Sui dressed in the prettiest Victoria’s Secret’s outfits that female customers can find by clicking on the mini program at the end of the campaign.

Picture from Victoria’s Secret’s Wechat official account

Celebrate all forms of love : Couple Love, Sister Love, Best Friend Love

Love is not expressed just for boyfriend / girlfriend, is it ? In life, we face all forms of love : love of partners, love of family, love of friends…

This is precisely what The Kooples wanted to show with matching outfits, not similar but complementary outfits and fashionable.

Pictures from The Kooples’ Wechat official account

The limited collection is not only trendy, but so is the campaign’s format. On Wechat, the campaign gives to the user a feeling of being a photographer shooting friends in an urban setting while the pieces of clothes are flashing up on the screen.

Pictures from The Kooples’ Wechat official account

Love is Love

Blued, the Chinese gay social network, interviewed 6 young men by asking them what was the gift they gave to their first love.

The diary-like advertising adopts a soft and poetic tone and offers a discount to the clothes collection by clicking on the mini program. 

Pictures from Blued’s Wechat official account

Creative campaigns on Wechat will convince customers for being relatable and consequently generate sales throughout the Chinese super mobile app.

5 components to run a great campaign that will resonate to the Chinese audience :

  • Having a strong message
  • Personalisation of the campaigns’ ideas according to Chinese culture and Gen Z evolving vision
  • Using KOL, idol’s or model’s face
  • Showing off beautiful graphic design and creativity
  • Purchase facility with links embedded to Wechat store

Gamification : between creativity and customers loyalty

Gamification with Valentino & Animal Crossing

E-commerce gamification in China has always been a top strategy for festivals such as Double 11. But now brands are using gamification in all marketing campaigns to capture consumers’ attention and increase their engagement, and then convert in sales.

One of the reasons is that shopping in China is first of all experience and entertainment.

Raising interest through Consumer enjoyment

In order to catch the attention of Gen Z customers, Pull&Bear (Spanish ready-to-wear brand) launched “Pacific Game”, a game which displays a virtual trip from California to Tokyo, inspired by arcade classic games. The aim of the game ? The player’s objective is to avoid obstacles and grab clothes. People can get access to the game from Pull&Bear’s Wechat official account.

[Photos from Pull&Bear’s Wechat official account]

It is about a new environment which allows the user to interact with the game instantly, without downloading it. 

Curiosity, fun and enjoyment are all intrinsic motivations, consequently people will gain inherent satisfaction by playing a game.

[Photos from Pull&Bear’s Pacific Game]

Game collaboration 

Customization in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is extensive. Having the ability to carve out your own island is possible and there have been some stunning designs and methods used since the game’s release.That’s why Valentino showed off looks for the character’s video game.

On Valentino’s Wechat official account, users can click on the Animal Crossing’s characters, then view clothes worn by a model.

[Photos from Valentino’s Wechat official account]

E-learning and Entertainment

In the educational field, a growing research interest in using mobile augmented reality (AR) and the gamification concept have emerged to promote environmental education and to improve the learning experience process.

Fun China World is a game-based platform for learning the Chinese language and culture. From beginning to advanced level, learners are immersed in a virtual China where they accomplish quests by answering quizzes, interacting with different characters and exploring Chinese culture.

In addition to providing students with an immersive entertaining learning experience, the platform also provides tools for classroom teaching, such as homework assignments and other online learning system functions to meet the needs of schools and families.

[Photos from Fun China World]

It is well developed by experts with the background in technology, linguistics, education and game design. Every new update is notified on their Wechat account.

Wechat is a unique Chinese social platform where gamification can increase brand’s awareness and customers’ loyalty. Moreover, brands are able to keep accumulating and operating their own digital assets and finally, converting to sales.

We can propose customized digital marketing services according to your ambition to create your Chinese story and expand your brand

Guochao (国潮) : the integration of traditional Chinese culture and style in brands’ marketing

Guochao

Have you ever heard of the term “Guochao” (国潮) ?

In Chinese, “guo” (国) means “country” and “chao” (潮) means “tide”. With growing levels of national pride, Chinese youth is now looking for unique ways to identify themselves with their Chinese roots in a world greatly influenced by Western aesthetics.

Chinese gen-Z people have become one of the largest spending groups in China and many local brands play the nostalgia’s and culture’s card to attract them.

Visual and aesthetics matter a lot

Chinese millenials consumers are more nationalistic and brimming with cultural confidence in comparison with older generations. When it comes to shopping, they show interest in the product’s packaging and the experience delivered.

They are mostly the generation most able to obtain the latest trends, especially for new limited collections : it makes them want to collect something rare, precious and cool.

Catkin Summer Palace collection (BB cushion and lipsticks set)

[Photos from Catkin’s website]

Catkin (卡婷) is a Chinese cosmetics brand that offers products of good quality and luxury packaging with a competitive price.

The best sellers of Catkin are the Summer Palace collection products. The outcome ? The Summer Palace collection, especially the lipsticks, launched in 2019, went viral and was quickly sold out on Tmall within 24 hours ! 

On Catkin’s Wechat official account, customers can purchase online either through Wechat store or Tmall store. There is also a VIP space where people can test new products.

Purchasing on Catkin’s Wechat store 

[Photos from Catkin’s Wechat official account]

These products have been so successful that the brand’s awareness crossed overseas. Catkin discovered that foreigners in Asia or in other countries requested to purchase the collection as well. Indeed, Catkin has over 10 distributors in foreign countries such as Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia or Thailand and offers free shipping in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Russia.

Emotion and experience are tied together

The Guochao trend not only reflects the sudden rise of domestic brands, but also the resurgence of Chinese cultural elements and traditional style. Fashion brands like Li Ning (李宁) or Randomevent (随机事件) are putting forward cultural elements and traditional lifestyle to create more fashionable yet modern styles that young Chinese can be identified to.

Campaign for Randomevent Market 

[Photos from Randomevent]

For example, Randomevent launched in April “Randomevent Market”, a range of clothes and accessories putting forward the daily life of merchants at market in Hangzhou. The motto written over all pieces of clothes is 称心如意, a Chinese expression for “everything one could wish”. 

Randomevent opened a pop-up store in Hangzhou Kerry centre with a market look alike welcoming atmosphere. Customers can walk from the fruits department to the seafood corner where the new clothes are displayed.

Pop-up store in Hangzhou Kerry Centre

[Photos from Randomevent]

By celebrating authentic and local atmosphere with fashion, streetwear and comfortable clothes, the brand won Chinese millennials’ hearts and aimed accurately at its phygital strategy, online and on site.

Shopping online through Wechat 

[Photos from Randomevent’s Wechat official account]

Nowadays, Chinese gen-Z are looking for a new meaningful connection with brands, so it is important for new international brands entering China to embrace these values of Chinese pride. International brands need to establish strong communication with their target consumers and make a clear value proposition to them.

We can propose customized digital marketing services according to your ambition to create your Chinese story and expand your brand

Virtual influencers : the future brand ambassadors ?

Virtual Influencers in China : the future ambassadors ?

Recently, programmable virtual influencers are becoming much more attractive to brands.

Blending together artificial intelligence and anime characters make virtual idols / influencers who are digital creations that have been a buzzy trend in the viral marketing world since the first appearance of Lil Miquela, a social experiment and virtual influencer made by 2 Americans.

The emerging virtual idol sector, backed by China’s younger generation, has been on the fast development track in recent years, with more domestic internet firms increasing investment in this market.

How do virtual influencers reach consumers ?

Idols in the fashion industry

The doll-like Noonoouri is one of the more successful international virtual influencers in China. In 2018, Alibaba Tmall Luxury Pavilion launched a mobile game with Noonoouri where users could dress her up with different outfits of famous brands.

Created by the Munich-based graphic designer Joerg Zuber in late 2017, she fronted the cover of Vogue Me China and signed a contract with Condé Nast China, allowing the publishing company to represent her in the traveling market. 

Noonoouri collaborated with Vogue Me, Furla and Gucci

AIGLE, the French brand has chosen Noonoouri as virtual ambassador to present its Virtual Traveller Spring Collection dedicated to travel in the digital age

Apart from being a fashion inspiration, Noonoouri also raises her voice for children, animals, nature and feminism and supports organisations such as Fashion For Relief and WWF.

Private traffic for social e-commerce

Perfect Diary has created an efficient CRM system on Wechat that builds closer relationships with customers : Xiao Wanzi (小完子), the virtual beauty advisor.

On Perfect Diary’s Wechat official account, customers can select 擦小完子 (contact Xiao Wanzi), then add her to their contacts’ list with a friend’s request.

Xiao Wanzi will appear in the chat’s list and will send messages as if she were a real friend.

Xiao Wanzi, Perfect Diary’s virtual beauty advisor on Wechat

Xiao Wanzi is yet another successful customer experiment, one combining influencer marketing with creating private traffic.

Perfect Diary is personifying its band image through the fictional character Xiao Wanzi and is funneling customers and WeChat followers into groups. In these Wechat groups, people can share the kind of beauty tools they use, their feedback about it and the shops where they bought it. Perfect Diary wanted to create a friendly and intimate atmosphere, as close friends chatting moments.

Xiao Wanzi is mostly in charge of bringing up topics and answering questions. She also gives the group members exclusive promotions and first access to new products. 

Consequently, Xiao Wanzi represents the perfect tool of building trust and loyalty to the consumers.

Entertainment

Xmov company created AI performance animation technology character named Ling (翎). She promotes Chinese national tide called “Guochao” (国潮) as the national essence of Peking Opera and the combination of classic and modern fashion.

Ling on Douyin

With commercial programming, the 3D virtual figure will engage in business endorsements, live broadcasts, and participate in online and offline activities.