Qixi, or Chinese Valentine’s Day which often falls in August, is mostly regarded as a commercial holiday for couples. Discounts are typically not offered, and many luxury brands choose to launch new collections.
According to a report co-authored by CBNData and Hupu (虎扑), a sports information platform whose majority of users are males, when it comes to selecting gifts, 52.1% of men go for entry-luxury brands, and up to 30.8% of them would choose international high-end luxury. We summarize four main trends of this year’s Qixi campaigns, particularly in the WeChat ecosystem.
Trend 1: Gamification
Not only luxury brands many other brands are also leveraging this format to approach consumers, such as the AR game Taobao Life, where users can dress up their virtual characters with apparel from different brands.
Gamifying WeChat content creates fun browsing experiences for users, instead of them simply reading through articles or watching videos. While the format is encouraging users to have more interaction with brands, it is also triggering users to invite friends to play together with. In this way, brands can leverage WeChat’s huge user base to get more exposure in the campaign.
Most importantly, games are also served as an appealing way to communicate with young consumers, the group that luxury brands aim to target.
Example1.1: Salvatore Ferragamo
Italian brand Salvatore Ferragamo started its campaign on July 30th, fifteen days ahead of Qixi. The main platform that the brand chose to interact with consumers on was its WeChat Mini Program.
This is how the game unfolds: Users first sketch a heart on the screen. After this, if a red heart pops up on the screen, that means the user gets a chance to enter into a lucky draw for a gift to be collected at an offline store. If the user doesn't win the draw that time around, the game presents them with brand ambassador Yu Menglong (于朦胧) reading one of several different interpretations of love. Users are then redirected to click on the image of classic Viva flats to select Qixi gifts in the Mini Program. A player can play over and over until they get a win. Once they do though, they’ve got to head in-store to claim their prize.
Other than Salvatore Ferragamo, YSL Beauty designed a race car game where users “pick up” hearts and lipsticks for points and extra time, while avoiding broken hearts. Players who invited their friends to race could combine points to improve their chances of winning a prize.
Trend 2: Socialization
According to The Paper, WeChat’s DAU has reached nearly 1.1 billion by January 2021, making it the most used social media platform in China. It would be a waste if brands don’t leverage such a big user base to create buzz and gain exposure, as we’ve already seen YSL use their game to do. Below, we’ll look at a few more examples of how brands reward consumers for sharing their content.
Example 2.1: Estée Lauder x SHUSHU/TONG
Estée Lauder launched a new collection on this Qixi. It is the collaboration with a Chinese designer brand SHUSHU/TONG, a brand that is well-known for its quirky and dark style. Because the brand rebels against traditional notions of femininity and instead shows girls other possibilities, it is very popular among young Chinese female consumers. By working with SHUSHU/TONG, Estée Lauder has become associated with the popularity of “new guochao” (“national wave”). This is a trend that comes with the improving quality of Chinese brands’ products, and young consumers’ rising confidence in them.
WeChat users can get a gift if they share Estée Lauder on their WeChat moments and receive 5 likes for the post. This capitalizes on WeChat’s social nature by directly rewarding social sharing.
Example 2.2: Givenchy Beauty
While Estée Lauder focuses on sharing, Givenchy Beauty targets community building on its Mini Program. It created a temporary page (from August 1 to August 30, 2021) for consumers to share their makeup tips for this romantic festival.
Users have to tag the post with #我的七夕撩爱妆# (My Qixi Makeup) and Givenchy’s makeup products will need to show up in the post. The system will then feature the TOP 3 most-liked content creators and reward them with several hero products from the brand.
Givenchy not only builds up a community for consumers to share their beauty tips, but it also encourages participants to invite more friends to join and to like their posts for a higher chance of getting the prize.
KOC marketing (where a brand uses the voices of key opinion consumers like small-time-bloggers) sometimes brings out better sales performance than KOL marketing. This is because KOCs usually own a small group of followers, which allows KOCs to manage relationships with each of them. Their recommendation sounds more like a friend’s suggestion. KOCs are also able to commit more time to create content and are more willing to follow brands’ guidelines.
Trend 3: Customization
The charm of luxury products is that they are scarce, and by providing the customization service to consumers, brands are attaching their products with more exclusivity.
Example 3.1: Calvin Klein
Shoppers visiting CK’s WeChat store can customize underwear for their valentine, choosing styles, colors, and badges. Options for badges include stickers such as pixelated pineapples or internet slang terms “YYDS,” the Chinese equivalent to GOAT.
Though this type of customization can only be seen by couples themselves, it is this intimacy and ability to personalize items that make the gift unique.
Trend 4: Redefinition of Qixi
Instead of focusing only on couples, more and more brands are using the three main romantic festivals in China, Valentine's Day, 520, and Qixi, to redefine and broaden what love is.
Example 4.1: dunhill x Victoria Song
Victoria Song (Song Qian 宋茜) initially gained popularity as a member of the Korean girl group f(x) and is now a solo artist and actress. She won Popular Artist of the Year in Weibo’s 2020 Awards Ceremony and has 49 million followers on Weibo.
Dunhill stars Song in their Qixi campaign, focusing on how love is about the ability “to return to zero (start over)” with the tagline “Behind every love story is a brave new self.” This is fitting for Song, who has transformed herself throughout her career. In dunhill’s interpretation, love is more like having the courage to step outside of your comfort zone.
These four trends are becoming the new standard for luxury brand campaigns, and are sometimes used in conjunction with one another. For example, Calvin Klein not only allows users to customize its products but also plays on WeChat’s social features by creating a Q&A game that encourages users to invite friends to answer questions and themselves, so as to see how well their friends know them.
Although following trends is important for brands’ success, what we see as the real gem in several of these campaigns is the way brands use them to gain insight into their consumers’ preferences. This data can then be harnessed to craft even more interactive and engaging customer journeys.
For example, Salvatore Ferragamo’s game requires winners to go into a boutique to claim their prize, connecting their online and offline experiences and deepening their relationship with the brand. Stores serve as platforms to directly communicate with consumers, creating more interaction for them to see those beautifully designed products in person.
The overarching theme is the abundance of WeChat engagement and social elements, with brands creating ever-more memorable and share-worthy campaigns. Perhaps most importantly, these fun and rewarding campaigns generate data which better enables luxury labels on WeChat to customize experiences and build consumer loyalty.