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.

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