Direct to consumers sales with WeChat

Why develop Direct to Consumer sales on WeChat?

Brands should also not overlook the development of brand-owned direct-to-consumer sales in China, even if active on big e-commerce platforms such as Tmall or JD.com.  

As you know in China, WeChat is your Website, therefore DTC e-commerce should be implemented on WeChat. Chinese consumers are not using website for e-commerce.

WeChat is the leading platform in China with more than 1,2 billion monthly active users.

The main features are:

  • Official accounts which push feeds to subscribers, interact with subscribers and provide them with contents
  • Mini-programs are really apps within an app. It is possible to do business through a mini-program while users can enjoy other functions
  • Channels, the new feature of WeChat launched this year, where people can enjoy short videos shared by their network and other business owners

“A WeChat DTC business offers brands multiple touchpoints to engage with consumers proactively and repeatedly, maximising the lifetime value of a single brand,” says George Xie, Planning Head of CPG Industry at Tencent Marketing Solution.

 WeChat has touchpoints spanning the entire consumer journey from awareness to loyalty, then brands have a greater opportunity to engage with and reactivate client profiles once they are part of the brand’s WeChat database.

DTC or traditional e-commerce platforms have both advantages and disadvantages, depending on business profile, brand milestones, range of audience….

Brands should not rely only on DTC or only on traditional e-commerce platforms, but develop a mix of both.

However at the time of China market entry, we advise to start with DTC only if you address the consumer market. It is cost effective way to test the market and start the sales.

With the development of cross-border e-commerce, WeChat shops are also a good solution to connect Chinese consumers with foreign brands.

Activating WeChat Stores

There are 2 ways to activate WeChat store, as explained below:

It is important for brands to create scarcity through campaigns and marketing initiatives to generate sense of urgency for consumers to shop on WeChat. They must give a reason to visit and shop directly on WeChat.

Brands also need to ensure that the quality of content on their WeChat Stores is proper to excite consumers. Besides making sure that the store is constantly updated with the latest campaign products, brands should leverage visually trending  formats such as videos or animations on this channel as well.

It is also possible to launch new or exclusive products only on WeChat store to differentiate from other marketplaces. This is usually the strategy of some luxurious fashion brands.

Brands are also starting to explore other entertaining methods of shopping within the WeChat ecosystem, such organising raffles to give consumers a chance to purchase limited edition products.

Driving Traffic to WeChat Stores

One of the most effective ways a brand can drive traffic to its WeChat Store is through content published on its Official Account. A brand can push content directly to its followers’ WeChat inboxes up to four times a month, and these content pushes should be fully leveraged with relevant product links and calls-to-actions embedded within articles to drive consumers to the WeChat Store

Brands can also drive traffic to their WeChat Stores by designing specific user journeys.

And it is also possible to use advertising or other social media platforms to generate traffic.

For more information about the Chinese market, do not hesitate to contact us.

How short videos became the new format for selling ?

Short videos are the new format for selling

Nowadays, according to a fast pace of life, people need brief and short information. Instead of a long and detailed written format, people prefer to watch a short and animated format

Did you know that Chinese users spent more than 25% of their phone time on short video mobile apps ? Consequently, 38.28% of leisure time was spent on mobile entertainment according to the China Good Life Survey.

In China, Douyin 抖音 (Chinese version of Tik Tok only usable in mainland China) is the leader of short videos mobile applications, followed by Kuaishou 快手.

Apart from Douyin and Kuaishou, short videos are on the rise on Wechat Channels as well. The super mobile application developed all formats of videos : short, long, live streaming sessions… 

Music, dance, lifestyle, humor, short story or advice videos are plenty for users to spend time on short videos apps. But how do brands manage to take short videos for selling ? 

Short videos are fun, creative and time-spending

Mobile applications such as Douyin and Kuaishou are based on browsing short videos endlessly. Users don’t expect to see advertising but creative content made by other users.

Some of the good ingredients to create a good video that will make people watch it to the end : Visual + Trendy music + Plot twist + People’s face.  

Brands have understood the importance of short videos and are now engaging with creators who have a large audience on Douyin to promote their products. 

Test and try products by Li Jiaqi : Mac Cosmetics

Video from Douyin @李佳琦 Austin Li

Short videos are recommended according to users’ interests

Douyin’s algorithm is made for entertaining users, consequently all of the content will be shown if the user has shown preferences to some of the categories of videos.

Douyin’s algorithm will highlight these user’s call-to-actions :

Active (likes, comments, shares, sending tips during live streaming…)

Watch-time (from the beginning to the end of the video, replay, swipe…)

Search methods (recommendation page, hashtags, music search tab…)

If a user has shown interest in a video showing shopping places, then Douyin’s algorithm would also suggest lookbook videos that could inspire the user to buy some new clothes or accessories.

Lookbook video on Douyin

Video from @曲岑兮 yitingyou

Brands are pushing ideas for collaboration with creators on Douyin : unboxing, test and try products, showing off clothes or luxury bags collection…

Watching several videos in a row with the same brand’s products will create the viewer’s desire and attract curiosity. On Douyin’s videos, users can directly shop products by clicking on the shop logo, which is usually just above the username. After arriving on the creator’s store, users could buy clothes, cosmetics products, DIY objects and other categories of products.

Short videos are great format for Millenials and + 30 years old people

Compared to mobile gaming and digital reading, short video have higher mobile user penetrations of 75.2% and the majority of China’s short-video users (which is over 70%) is between 18 and 35 years old and the majority are located in third-tier and fourth-tier cities than the top tier cities, according to China Internet Watch. 

Users of Douyin have a longer duration of the engagement. Around 30 million users opened Douyin early in the morning and browsed it late at night. 

Yet, the behavior of the users’ purchasing power is different. Chinese Z Generation people are more likely to buy instantly and are more quickly convinced of a trendy product, while those over 30 years old have a more thoughtful consumption and will take the time to learn more about the product’s details. 

But in both cases, it is profitable for the brand which is gaining notoriety. The more visible it is, the more users have the potential to turn into consumers or advise people around them about the products and brands they have seen, consequently creating word of mouth effect.

       Unboxing : Converse

Video from Douyin : @帕尔哈迪迪

How to use Weibo for brands marketing ?

Weibo for brands marketing

Instant messages, a limit of 2000 characters by posts, pictures grids, short videos, Weibo’s functionalities look similar to Twitter, used in western countries. At the beginning, Weibo was made for personal use but more and more brands are active on Weibo because companies can build databases, promote their brand image and drive traffic to their website.

According to Statista, as of the first quarter of 2021, Weibo’s monthly active users amounted to around 530 million. Weibo is not only a tool for boosting brands’ visibility, but also a tool for brands to better understand Chinese audiences and get closer to customers.

Here are the good practices of doing marketing for brands on Weibo :

Building brands’ notoriety through search function

Using search function allows the user to find posts related to keywords on the research box. By jumping on trending topics, brands’ posts will be kept under the topics related to the post’s description.

Besides, the posts can be consulted at any time and by everyone, unlike the companys’ accounts on Wechat where users have to subscribe to be aware of the latest publications. 

As for famous events like Chinese New Year, 520 Festival (as known as Valentine’s Day) or the upcoming 618 Shopping Festival (as known as the largest mid-year shopping festival in China), brands are launching presales campaigns for ongoing products or limited edition products.

Chaumet, the French luxury jewelry and watchmaking brand, has chosen as brand ambassador the famous Chinese actor and singer Zhang Yixing (Lay Zhang) for a series of love-themed jewelry.

Weibo’s account of Chaumet about luxury jewelry for 520 Festival

Content share facilities

Cross-channel is the key. When scrolling down the timeline, users can easily share a post from Weibo to Wechat. 2 options will be suggested : create a post on the user’s Wechat account (it will appear on friends’ Wechat Moments) or send to a friend by message (private traffic). After going through Wechat, the user can go back to Weibo and keep on browsing or stay on Wechat.

Creating a post on Wechat including a Weibo’s link

Creating a post on Wechat including a Weibo’s link

Sending a message to a friend on Wechat including a Weibo’s link

Sending a message to a friend on Wechat including a Weibo’s link

Weibo’s user journey highlights these types of actions :

  • Passive (scrolling down content)
  • Active (commenting and liking)
  • Reactivity (sharing on other social medias)

E-commerce integration

Through its partnership with Taobao, Weibo users can put links to Taobao store and products’ page in their posts.

Products' page links on Weibo

Video of @kakakaoo about L’Oreal lipstick on Weibo

Running campaigns

Targeting is quite precise on Weibo and the Chinese audiences’ ages vary from 14 to 60 years old. Brands can tailor campaigns in the format of display ads or Weibo search engine promotion.

Selling via live streaming 

As on Douyin, Wechat and Xiaohongshu, buying during a live streaming is one of the best time selling opportunities since live broadcasting gives the viewers the feeling of proximity and authenticity with the broadcaster. 

Live streaming on Weibo

Live streaming of jade jewelry selling

How to position a beauty brand on the Chinese market ?

How to position a beauty brand on the Chinese market ?

Did you know that China is the world’s second-largest cosmetics market after the U.S. in terms of revenue according to Statista ? This ranking is powered by urbanization, growing disposable income by Chinese people, and of course social media’s huge influence. 

China’s beauty industry is experiencing rapid growth and international beauty brands are taking up Chinese social media, especially on Xiaohongshu (RED).

How do international beauty brands enter the Chinese market ? 

Brand positioning and branding communication are key points to reach Chinese customers.

But before that, you have to set up a brand notoriety strategy.

How do international beauty brands evaluate notoriety ?

The competition on the beauty market is fierce, including Chinese brands, foreign brands and the new trends which are constantly evolving.

The first step is to make a brand awareness analysis on Chinese social media and platforms : 

  • Baidu (Chinese main search engine, compared to Google)
  • Zhihu (Chinese platform where you can get answers for all kinds of topics).

With 220 million registered users, Zhihu is a real tool of trust since it creates interactions of questions and answers between a group of people around a subject

  • Wechat (Chinese first super application and most popular mobile application)

Estée Lauder (American cosmetics brands) on Baidu

Shiseido (Japanese cosmetics brands) on Wechat promoting eye cream

Then, do some research on Chinese e-commerce platforms :

  • Taobao (China’s leading e-commerce website for C2C)
  • Tmall (commercial website based on Tаоbао platform, operating on the B2C system)
  • JD.com (the largest retailer in China)

Nivea (German skincare brand) on Tmall

How do international beauty brands differentiate from the competitors?

Then, international brands have to identify their targets and highlight their added value according to the Chinese consumers needs :

  • Taking the Chinese culture into consideration
  • Be aware of the best sellers beauty products of the moment
  • Be informed about the trends on the spotlight

Users on Zhihu gave feedback about skincare products of Innisfree (Korean beauty and skincare brand). The range of products above is mainly made with tea from Jeju Island

What are the marketing methods for international beauty brands ?

After completing these steps :

Raising awareness → Creating interest → Branding communication → Customers conversion

Brands need to implement marketing strategy with the help of specialized agencies :

Dior’s Wechat mini program store

For more information about the Chinese market, do not hesitate to contact us at project@emotionchina.cn 

We can propose you customized digital marketing services according to your needs.

For more information about Digital marketing and business in China, subscribe to our newsletter :  https://www.subscribepage.com/chinabusinessletter 

Wechat Channels for Marketing

Wechat Channels

If you use Wechat, you have probably been using Wechat Channels, a section launched since January 2020, accessed through the Discover part of the Chinese super-app, right underneath Wechat Moments. 

Wechat Channels is a public feed of video and photo content, which can be searched using keywords and hashtags.

Wechat Channels is build through social connections

Wechat Channels is working on 4 different feeds :

  1. Accounts you follow
  2. Content that your contacts have liked
  3. Real-time trending content 
  4. Content posts according to your actual location (only if you give the right in the parameters)

Wechat Channels

As a brand, your content could be liked, thus appearing on their friends’ Wechat Channels. Consequently they could like your content as well or just scroll down, and that is raising your brand’s awareness.

Short video is highly recommended

Short video marketing is an indispensable part of a brand’s digital journey in China. Wechat Channels mostly highlight short videos because people want to see fun and entertaining animated content. Video shares are a powerful indicator to consider.

Wechat tends to recommend other similar content to people and it can help brands to reach more potential target audiences.

Drive traffic inside Wechat

Starting with a video seen on Wechat Channels, people could click on your brand’s official Wechat account or click on your product’s page and Wechat mini-program if you provided it.

The shop is linked to Wechat account on which cooking tools are sold (on the second picture above : mini rice cooker and hot plate)

DTC brands are taking advantages of Wechat Channels

Using Wechat Channels is a good way for Direct-to-consumer brands to deliver products directly to customers without going through an intermediary. Consequently the delivery process is faster and more personalized.

Besides, consumer data is easier collected for brands to improve their CRM system.

Example of customer journey through Wechat Channels

For more information, do not hesitate to contact us at project@emotionchina.cn 

We can propose you customized digital marketing services according to your needs.

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Studying on Bilibili is the new trend

Studying on Bilibili is the new trend

Bilibili 哔哩哔哩 (also known as B 站) is one of the most popular video sharing platforms in China with anime, manga, and video game fandom-themed.

Users on Bilibili can spend time watching all kinds of videos about lifestyle, cooking, livestreaming video games and studying content as well.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, studying has shifted to a full digital process. Bilibili has already been betting on the education market, with millions of education-related videos uploaded by its users. 

With more than 140 million views in 2019, study-from-home content has been the most popular category

Let’s see the trends related to education :

Bilibili, the official online platform for education

Last year, the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission has designated Bilibili as an official platform for online education in facilitating online classes. All the schools have done livestreamed classes or recorded classes and Bilibili has set up a special section, named Kongzhong Ketang (Classroom On-Air in English) for students to access the platform.

Universities like Tsinghua University and Peking University have also joined Bilibili with livestream classes and graduation ceremonies.

1.6 million followers on Tsinghua account

Studious environment with livestreaming study rooms sessions

With over 8 hours in a row, videos of study room sessions (自习室) have been seen by at least 1.8 million users. It creates a studying environment in real time. By using the #StudyWithMe on Bilibili, users stream their study routine and provide a help for people who are preparing for exams or for those who are looking for a virtual companion that makes them feel less lonely.

Virtual study room on Bilibili

Mentoring lessons

In order to help students learn foreign languages, viewers can watch some videos along with a mentor’s voice teaching grammar and giving exercises. Viewers can write their questions and answers in the comments below the video where the mentor responds individually.

Learning English video on Bilibili

Learning English video

English teaching tutor on Bilibili

Chris provides English learning videos for Chinese people

Students can also watch videos from well-known edtech apps such as Yuanfudao or Zuoyebang.

Yuanfudao is a tutoring app that offers a wide range of online learning products like live lessons and Zuoyebang is specialized in e-learning. Powered by machine learning, the platform provides online courses, live lessons and homework help to students ranging from kindergarten to high school. 

Variety of resources for self-learning

On Bilibili, teachers, experts or users share their acknowledgement about literature, computer science, law, psychology, finance and foreign languages.

Luo Xiang, professor of law at China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, talking about criminal law

For more information, do not hesitate to contact us at project@emotionchina.cn

We can propose you customized digital marketing services according to your needs.

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Social commerce is now possible on Zhihu

Zhihu

有问题,上知乎 ! (For any questions, ask Zhihu) is the slogan of Zhihu, a Chinese platform where you can get answers for all kinds of topics.

With 220 million registered users, Zhihu is a real tool of trust since it creates interactions of questions and answers between a group of people around a subject. 

To begin with, why is Zhihu essential to brands ?

Online reputation management in China impacts so much on a brand’s image and visibility. Chinese search engine results and social media platforms are effective tools used for increasing online reputation. The best way to make a brand visible on the Chinese market is to implement a global marketing strategy on the main social media including Wechat, Xiaohongshu, Weibo, Douyin and Zhihu. Thus, by developing your strategy and raising brand awareness on Zhihu, you increase your brand’s visibility and build effective long-term promotion.

Besides, using Zhihu is also a tool to improve a brand’s Search Engine Optimization thanks to a high domain authority on Baidu, consequently one Zhihu page will be displayed on a Baidu search engine result page, no matter what the date of publication is. 

But except from being a community-based platform, Zhihu is now seen as a lever for doing business.

Here are some new functions added on Zhihu :

Brands and Product Recommendation Program :

Brands (Chinese or foreign brands) can post articles or answer questions related to their products by linking to a product on their websites or e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, Pinduoduo or Sunning. It is the best way to drive traffic and to help effectively potential customers.

For example, on the pictures below, a user asked for a liquid foundation. After describing her bad experiences with luxury brands like Armani, Lancôme or Estée Lauder, she is looking for any recommendation for other liquid foundations adapted to dried skin.

Among the answers she received, several products like Make Up For Ever’s foundation were recommended with the product’s details and application advice. If the user clicks on the button “去购买” (purchase) on the right, he is redirecting to the product page. 

Recommendation on cosmetics products with product’s links

Creators can also link their products to the shop (商品橱窗) on their Zhihu account main page. Besides, livestreaming sessions now include a shopping icon that leads the users directly to the product page on e-commerce platforms or leads to the creator’s store on Zhihu. Briefly, everything is done to facilitate the customer journey within Zhihu.

Zhihu

Creator’s jewelry store clickable on the creator’s main page

Raising trust through experts’ insights :

Zhihu uses knowledge, information, and personal experience that could influence the decision-making process of any potential consumer before purchasing. But the other main point of Zhihu now is the presence of experts including writers, scientists and businessmen that show legitimacy to the users.

Entertainment and inspiration on Zhihu :

If some users are looking for answers to specific questions, others just want to have fun on Zhihu. Films, videos, documentaries, and even TV series can be streaming and creators can receive a commission based on video views as well. 

The following picture shows a video introducing the interior design style from North European countries. By displaying a series of pictures, it gives inspiration on house decoration for fans of design.

Video introducing the interior design style from North European countries

VIP access

Zhihu is a free platform but users can take advantage of special contents or flash sales if they belong to the VIP club.

According to the topics you are interested in, a selection of articles or most popular contents is recommended on the membership tab. 

Other articles accessible only on VIP access

For more information, do not hesitate to contact us at project@emotionchina.cn

We can propose you customized digital marketing services according to your needs.

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Why KOC are more impactful than KOL ?

Key Opinion Consumers in China

Today, implementing influencers or Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) in a brand’s strategy is very efficient and even essential to reach the right customers

By their large audience (+29 millions followers on Li Jiaqi’s Weibo account), KOL are heavily influencing their followers’ purchasing decisions by presenting a product. Nonetheless, they often belong to influencers agencies with whom you have to negotiate the price and well-known KOL require a lot of money.

When choosing the right KOL, brands should make sure that the KOL content fits with the brand image, and that the audience is the right one.

You also need to be aware that many KOLs are fake and you need to make your own due diligence to choose a KOL.

Apart from KOL, a new group of influencers is more and more effective than big influencers : Key Opinion Consumers (KOC)

Here is the reasons why small and medium companies should consider to bring KOC in their marketing campaigns :

KOC are followed because of their lifestyle rather than popularity

Fashion and cosmetics addict on Xiaohongshu

Today, followers tend to follow other people that share personal stories and inspire by their personal lifestyle (healthy food, pet education and nutrition, field of studies, gaming…).

KOC don’t work in influencers agencies but by showing pieces of their daily life on social media, they indirectly influence their community.

For example, the last bag they purchased in sales, the new brand pet food they bought online or the food delivery service mobile app they recommend, all represent influence on their followers’ decision of consumption.

KOC are more accessible than KOL

Food recipes on Xiaohongshu

With a smaller audience (less than 30 000 followers) than KOL, KOC can easily get in touch with their followers and can give some recommendations to them based on their own experience.

KOC are trustworthy

Showing dog food, clothes and accessories on Xiaohongshu

When buying products, people are more likely to talk to a “friend” than a brand ambassador that promotes products. People are looking for authenticity and advice.

For more information, do not hesitate to contact us at project@emotionchina.cn

We can propose you customized digital marketing services according to your needs.

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