China is ground zero for global luxury brands, it also happens to be the world’s largest smartphone market and the the world’s best place for luxury marketers to reach their customer via apps. But it isn’t as easy as you would think for western companies to reach Chinese consumers with apps. That is unless you read this article.
WeChat.,Weibo and Little Red Book or as it’s more commonly refereed to Red currently define the very competitive and ever changing social media landscape in China, especially when trying to reach a smart, sophisticated and fashion-conscious audience.
The new buzzword for online marketers is “social commerce” which reflects a convergence between social media and ecommerce. People like to research, talk about and read reviews of products before making purchases. This isn’t unique to China, but China’s size is. As is it’s adoption level of smartphones. It is estimated that 75% of all online sales in China will be done on smartphones. That represents 443 million Chinese consumers.
Connecting with China’s Luxury Consumers
To reach China’s large mobile consumer base marketers need to deploy a multichannel approach as each social media platform has their own strengths and their own target audience.
WeChat, the largest and most ubiquitous platform is really more of an online ecosystem than just an app. With over 1 billion monthly users WeChat has grown to be much more than a cross between Facebook and WhatsApp. Within the app users chat friends, shop, order dinner, pay bills and share content. Mini programs which are small Apps which load inside WeChat, allow brands to offer customer service and to interact with customers… all in one place.
Weibo is probably best described as China’s answer to Twitter, however they also now offer a live-streaming option and “Weibo Stories”, which is similar to Instagram Stories as the videos disappear after 24 hours. For marketers it allows the ability post links to e-commerce sites. However Alibaba has a stake in Weibo so you can’t use it to push customers to JD.com, Alibabab’s Tmall’s arch competitor.
Xiaohongshu or Little Red Book now boats more than 100 million monthly users. Backed by Tencent, Red also has an ecommerce platform inside the app making it the ideal platform to reach millenials in China. Beauty companies such as cosmetics and skincare brands were quick to jump aboard. The app hosts user reviews from both regular users and key opinion leaders (KOLs) and then links users within the app to their favorite retailer. It’s a virtuous circle of social interaction and hard core ecommerce.
Put together these 3 apps represent a golden opportunity for western companies to reach a receptive but quite tech savvy Chinese luxury brand consumer.