Focus on China: 3 trends to watch closely in 2017
The Chinese digital ecosystem is unique. Complex and fertile, it remains an inexhaustible source of inspiration for Western social mastodons, but also for brands keen on innovation and new uses. Here on a plate the 3 trends made in China who could well come to inspire the rest of the world.
1- Pan-entertainment: entertainment above all
Pan-entertainment can be defined by the consumer’s inclination to prefer fun and entertaining content over other more traditional formats. From press releases to current affairs, on form, the trend is now in spoofing, an English term for parody, in kawaii, the culture of “cute”, or even kichiku. This genre, popular on the Bilibili video sharing site, consists of “remastering” an audio / video sequence by re-editing it with voices collected from different sources. Fun, then.
But don’t get me wrong: Far from being sterile, these entertaining forms usually contain product placement. The brand is put forward, through a character or a story, or thanks to the product itself, placed prominently. This is particularly the case for video games, films or toys. Thus, advertisers offer consumers a new way to absorb content. An example? TV series Ode to Joy features characters close to the brands that surround them. Andy, the hero, uses the products Evian and Porsche, while another less fortunate protagonist wears clothes Tadashi shoji and buy on the site Vip.com. Strategies aimed at increasing the exposure of brands, and allowing Internet users to better understand their positioning through this content. Smart.
Another more recent example of this trend is the discussion that animated the networks following the release of the Xinhua news release. 38 Chinese characters on the Saudi Prince were enough to trigger a frenzy of reactions online. The attention was not so much focused on the content of the message, but rather on the humorous tone of the press release, thus engaging Internet users more easily.
In the West, there are similar variants: a few years ago, applications like Dubmash (often very funny playback videos) or Bitstrips, a genre of BD 2.0 in which you are the hero, had their heyday, in the image of emoticons and filters in vogue on Snapchat. But it is clear that, for the time being, their use remains the prerogative of young people or early adopters. And then, there may also be, for once, a cultural component very specific to China.
Case to be continued …
2- Reflex buying & instant satisfaction
In the early days of the Web and digital marketing, brands used “push” strategies (advertisements, emailings, etc.) in order to generate visibility and, in fine, push to buy. Today, the logic is changing. Indeed, Chinese consumers are now focusing less on price, and more on personalized products and the overall shopping experience. Therefore, speed and agility have become strategic. Most social platforms improve their sales strategies by providing users with more convenient payment solutions and more instant sales functions. Examples include setting up e-commerce links on sites such as Weibo or video platforms, the development of virtual gifts and rewards on live streaming platforms, or paid content on Q&A sites.
Thus, the ability to offer quick put options is fast becoming a major KPI for all social platforms.
The same logic seems to be winning over the West, even if the culture of s-commerce (a contraction of social and e-commerce) is much less anchored here. However, the time has come to strengthen instant payment solutions among social leaders: Instagram and Pinterest are in the process of developing purchase tags or “buyable pins”. Facebook, between the launch of its marketplace and the rise of new features, would also work, according to Bloomberg, on its own digital assistant – like Google Home / Amazon Echo – integrated into a device with a screen and a camera. Enough to make the journey more fluid, by surfing on the progress of artificial intelligence and the development of the application network.
3– The influence of Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) & the rise of tailor-made systems
Wherever we are in the world, influence marketing, understood as the set of practices that aim to use the recommendation potential of influencers, is definitely a “hot topic” in 2017. Yet, here again, China stay one step ahead.
The Chinese have been interested in opinion leaders, known as the KOLs, and in particular in Wanghong, these web celebrities who are taking more place and importance in the Chinese digital landscape. More and more often these KOLs professionalize and bring in agencies or communication pros and as they increase their influence and improve the quality of the content they publish they start to cooperate. with brands. In fact, they are now a growing professional support team, as opposed to simply promoting oneself as it was before.
Concretely, to be successful, KOLs (with distinct characteristics) must produce a certain type of content to attract loyal fans. Gradually, they move from a single social platform to a vast multi-platform ecosystem with content adapted to each channel in order to create a stronger cooperation with brands.
Beyond the classic influence marketing tactics that can be seen in the West (banners, events, social takeovers, contests, affiliation, product placement and other sponsored content) the particularity of the Chinese model lies in the very high level of personalization of the brand / influencer systems, particularly during collaborations / co-creations.
Example? Last February, Chinese influencer Tao Liang, at the head of a community of more than 1.3 million fans, who operates on Wechat under the name of “Mr. Bags”, collaborated and co-created with the Givenchy brand a limited and exclusive series of 80 bags at the price of 14,900 RMB (approximately 2,000 euros each piece) with the sole purchasing channel Wechat. A big “coup” combining both the extreme personalization and instant payment mentioned above.
All 80 pieces, for a total amount of around 160,000 euros, sold out in… 12 minutes. The key to success? The personalization and thoroughness with which the device has been designed. First of all the “limited edition” aspect, which encourages reflex buying (small quantity = rare, therefore desirable). Then the timing. This sale took place precisely during Valentine’s Day. An argument put to good use, thanks to a catchphrase: “For this Valentine’s Day, here is the perfect bag to offer to your other half!”. Another ingredient used by the influencer: social validation. Mr. Bags did not fail to recall, in detail, all the celebrities who own a Givenchy bag, such as Michelle Obama, or the Chinese model and singer Angelababy. In other words, nothing was left to chance, not even the number of bags, 80, which refers to the number 8, which is lucky in China. This is tailor-made.
What you must remember? That if this Chinese “barometer” once again keeps its promises, it is obvious that here or elsewhere, the marketing influence promises to be more and more strategic in the imminent future. The future belongs to brands that will be able to collaborate with influencers, exploiting their personality, and offering a tailor-made experience. All without neglecting, of course, the mechanisms linked to virality (emotions, utility, social currency, etc.) but also other elements linked to the context or to the culture. China seems to have it all figured out. Who’s next?
Marie Dollé is responsible for digital content strategy at Kantar Media, a research institute in France and internationally. She also works in digital strategy at the Ecole Supérieure de Publicité.