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01. Unexpected engagement strategies by Estée Lauder on WeChat.
First, we’ll look at a collaboration between Estée Lauder and manga artist Åsa Ekström. The campaign is beautifully animated and fun, and according to comments, WeChat users seem to love the "Interdimensional" manga/beauty connection. While collaboration is far from surprising, the brand's strategy of carrying the product only offline is, to some degree. Although pop-up experiences are not uncommon, only selling an item offline is somewhat less so. The limited-edition Micro Essence can only be purchased at select counters and pop-up stores in seven cities throughout China, strongly encouraging offline traffic and interactions. In a WeChat-savvy move, Estée Lauder also lets their Official Account followers type in “limited edition” to their account’s chat to receive location details.
For part two, we've got to come clean: it's not exactly an unexpected engagement strategy, but we do love it. Estée Lauder held two comments-based competitions in one week: the first was travel-themed (fitting in nicely with the Labor Day holiday that saw 230 million domestic trips), and the second was for Mother’s Day. In the "Your Ticket to Beauty" article, two readers could win a travel skincare set worth over 1,000 RMB by getting the most likes on their comments. The two winning comments (with around 1,000 likes each) were short lines of praise for the brand.
The Mother's Day competition was a bit more specific, prompting readers to share "Mama's most beautiful look" or "Best wishes to Mama." One of the top comments said, "On Mother's Day, I just want to thank my mom…Now I just hope she can be healthy and I can spend more time with her." We love how this creates a deeper emotional connection between customers and the brand as users take the opportunity to give a shout-out to their moms.
02. The digital habits of women in China are changing. Here's how.
A new report by eMarketer showed that beauty is booming, WeChat is as critical as ever, and that women as a demographic are more internet-savvy than men in a few notable ways. Here are our key takeaways:
- Beauty was a major e-commerce category and did $11B in 2020 sales! 69% of this was in skincare.
- 85.9% of female internet users visited WeChat, “the social network of choice.”
- RED, or Xiaohongshu, skews dramatically female, with women making up about 80% of users (according to AdChina.io). Perhaps this is why we see WeChat Mini Programs from brands like Innisfree and Swatch integrating RED-esque user-generated content.
- Women are buying more in sports and fitness. For example, sales of boxing gloves doubled on Tmall. This reminds us of Longchamp’s boxing-themed collab with EU and Hermés’ new HermesFit Mini Program (discussed below) – both right on-trend. (In an excellent discussion with Qumin on the She-Economy in China, Bessie Lee, CEO & founder of Whininlink, noted that 35% of urban women are exercising five or more hours per week!)
- Women are active investors: 94% of female internet users invested in funds, and 57% own stocks. (While financial industry content in WeChat is often creative and educational, it may be beneficial for brands to reach out to their female audience even more directly.)
- 69.2% of Chinese women use the internet (compared to 67.1% of men).
03. What’s so interesting about Hermès' new HermesFit Mini Program?
Hermès’ new HermesFit WeChat Mini Program is taking luxury and fitness to the next level. Here are a few reasons we’re taking notice:
- It’s on point: 35% of urban Chinese women work out five or more hours a week (as discussed above). A 2019 China Daily article noted that the goal for women had changed “from ‘the slimmer the better’ to ‘let’s run and lift iron.’” And according to the All-China Women’s Federation, health is the number two thing that young Chinese people are expected to spend money on, translating to a fitness focus for women especially. All this, plus the fact that women’s empowerment continues to gain traction, means that the “fit” theme likely to strike a chord with much of Hermès’ audience.
- The set-up is unique: the Mini Program is all about incorporating Hermès pieces into your exercise routine, including videos and tips.
- We always love integrated e-commerce: with one tap, users connect to Hermès’ WeChat store.
04. Should luxury brands emphasize their sustainability initiatives in their China marketing?
Recent data reported by Vogue Business says yes. Luxury consumers in China have become even more environmentally conscious since Covid. For example, they’ve shifted from sustainability being “nice to have” to “important but not mandatory,” according to Vogue Business. In general, Chinese adults are also consistently above the global average in concern about pollution and willingness to make changes (85% compared to a 69% global averages). The data is clear that sustainability is a relatively high priority for consumers in China, and specifically for luxury's audiences.
So how do luxury brands connect with consumers in China about sustainability? First of all, “China is about education, sharing knowledge and letting people participate.” So that means that greenwashing is a no-no. What does work? Longchamp’s recycled polyester bags are a great example, especially because the recycled material is used for their customizable My Pliage Signature bag, thus combining sustainability and personalization. Prada’s support of UNESCO’s “Sea Beyond” educational program is another fantastic example. WeChat users also gave positive comments in response to Hugo Boss’s BOSS RESPONSIBLEclothing capsule last November. More recently, Ralph Lauren re-launched their The Earth Polo for Earth Day. Their WeChat post gave away digital wallpapers to readers and put forth the brand's sustainability goals for the next decade, both involving their readers and showing commitment to sustainability. You can read our blog post about it for more insight on the eco-friendly wave in China.