When luxury brands meet the Internet, a sentence from the founder of D&G can really cover the situation: ‘for luxury products, Internet is not a future trend, but a reality that it has to deal with…’. In fact, value experiencing and depth understanding are the priority, while for the nowadays luxury purchasers, their lives have interwoven with the digital platforms and terminals and are so use to spending time and effort online receiving information and recommendation and making decisions.
It seems just too fast or short for the consumers to really explore the value of the luxuries before they switch to something else. On the other, exclusivity and distance are always something luxury brands use to differentiate themselves and make money from; therefore, to implant luxury brands with the easy-accessible Internet channels and apply the marketing activities on them requires specific strategies.
5 Digital strategies for luxury Brands in China
1. Have a specific positioning and content strategy
Major customers of luxury beauty brands are women, therefore to understand their behaviors online helps target and convert them. Men and women are different online, especially when they are using social medias. According to the research from Social Media Today, women have 8% more friends compared to men on Social Medias, and are keener to re-tweet / share messages from others. They are also spend more time on commenting instead of just ‘Like’ the message.
Therefore, a well-made content or good presence of the brand online usually generates great follow-ups among the ladies. This is very important for beauty brands, the luxury ones especially, to be careful with their e-marketing content and materials as their targets could share the brand’s content with great effects.
Tiffany: content from the celebrities.
Content Marketing has never been an easy task in China for Brand Managers. Followers are getting more and more sophisticated and always expect better content. The luxury Brand “Tiffany” has invited a couple of cyber celebrities, and famous writers to generate articles for the Wechat account of the Brand.
This Wechat campaign ‘Tiffany’s Love in My Eye’ engaged GuoJingmin (famous writer, rising director), Tian Pujun (film producer), and Zhang Wei (Associate Editor and Chief Writer of GQ Magazine). All these writers were invited to write their own thoughts on love stories for the Brand. Those initiative have gained a great deal of attention from society and from the media.
2. Integrated with the e-commerce platforms
In Fashion & Luxury industry, the Digital Landscape is specific and Luxury Buyers use special Websites and Social Networks. L’Oreal is the leading luxury beauty brand on e-commerce platforms in China. Apart from the official brand website, many products and subsidy brands are also being sold on Luxurybeauty.com. Other than that, L’Oreal Paris and Maybelline have flagship shops on TMALL, VIP.com, etc.
A huge growth of the e-commerce on PC and more importantly, on mobile terminals has pushed the brands to explore their online market. Particularly for the luxury beauty brands, the customer groups are dominated by the new generations who were born with a digital gene and grew up in the Internet era, to integrate with the main e-commerce platforms will both increase the product sales and brand awareness, attracting customers in various directions.
3. Engage the targeted customer groups
There are many ways luxury beauty brands can interact with customers, no matter by games (Chanel’s ‘Take off Karl Lagerfeld’s Sunglasses’ H5 game), branding videos (90% of the luxury beauty and fashion brands have their brand channel on Chinese Youku), or rewarding systems. Sephora, the chain beauty products brand used to host a JD campaign called ’15 Days of Beauty, inviting the public to join the campaign to win prizes including a Fiat Car, a trip for 4 to visit the ‘Make Up for Ever Academy’ in Paris, and 5,000€ vouchers. Chinese Customers, especially ladies, love reward campaigns, games and those activities that they can be involved and will have more impression and attachment with the brands.
For beauty products, experiencing is important that’s why sometimes it is risky to buy a big sized product directly online, especially if they are pricey from a luxury brand. L’Oreal has therefore customized a mix-package called ‘my beauty box’ including several beauty products from those famous luxury beauty brands in small to medium size to sell online through various e-commerce platforms like TMALL and luxuryeauty. With a price of 200 to 300 RMB per box to try those luxury beauty products really attracts a big group of customers.
4. O2O Model works great in China
A cross-border model between online engagement and offline experience works pretty well for luxury beauty brands. For online, the customers are engaged with brand information, digital branding materials and able to talk and interact with the brand. For example, someone may @Chanel on Weibo saying that she wants to know whether the eye shadow she just bought is fake. The people from Chanel could answer her directly through private or public message but more over, share more knowledge and ideas of how to distinguish the real products from the fake ones, the launching time for the seasonal new products as well as inviting her to join the upcoming brand experiencing events offline.
On the offline side, when customers step into a retail shop or booth, the shop officers should collect his / her social media or personal contacts through direct invites or reward campaigns, and then input the information into the brand CRM system. In the future for all the online campaigns and sales, the contacts are valuable.
Offline experience is important for luxury beauty brands as without trying the products, customers will feel it is too risky to purchase and are less convinced by the brand’s value. However, online engagement will help drive more leads and interests to the brand in a very efficient way especially with effective campaigns.
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5. Corporate with influences: a big challenge for Brand
KOLs (key opinion leader) are powerful for digital marketing campaigns in China, and even more powerful for beauty brands as most of the targeting customers are ladies who are, as Chinese Culture expert suggested, easier to be influenced online and willing to re-tweet or share messages from others.
On the other hand, a majority of ladies will check online for reviews and consider the comments from the other users. These kinds of comments and recommendations come usually from the Q&A collective intelligence (e.g. Baidu Knows), and the forum portals (e.g. Douban). To carefully manage and work on these information are definitely crucial.
Luxury and beauty brands in China have to work on their image (online reputation) first and after boost their awareness via creative strategies on Social Media. Times are changing and Chinese customers are attracted by different things and appreciate innovative and creative Brands.
About the Author:
Olivier Verot is the founder of Gentlemen Marketing Agency, which is an agency based in Shanghai that focuses on Chinese travelers and tourism. Fluent in Mandarin and exploring the various Chinese digital Strategies, he helps tourism companies to develop their China strategy. Thanks to his analyzes of Chinese consumers’ behavior, he has been recognized as an expert on the subject of marketing in China and tourism.