You may not have heard of WeChat, a Chinese social media app where users can chat, share, play, follow and buy to their heart’s content.
You may not have - but it’s one billion monthly active users cannot be ignored. It’s one of the leading social networks across the globe, which is why marketers are keener than ever to break into China’s epic market on the platform.
Many are eschewing traditional paid advertising and pouring budgets into key opinion leaders (KOLs), the Chinese influencers currently boosting brand sales with supersonic power via WeChat and other networks.
In this particular campaign, French luxury fashion house Givenchy collaborated with one of China’s most influential KOLs, Tao Liang, on a special Valentine’s Day handbag collection.
Known as Mr Bags on social media, the aptly named fashion blogger is the poster boy for luxury handbag trends. Tao assembled a small team and began partnering with bag companies in 2016, connecting brands to his avid fans (who he names ‘Bagfans’), sharing advice and even teaming up to create capsule collections with labels himself.
Purpose of campaign
‘Bagfans’ consist primarily of Chinese women and Mr Bags’ previous campaigns proved there was a need for pretty bags on special days. Treating themselves to a designer bag (or buying one as a gift) brought happiness on Valentine’s Day, so the aim was to appeal to this desire and create a sense of luxury exclusivity with a limited edition collection.
It was actually Tao Liang who approached Givenchy for this campaign. He told Jing Daily that he put a question out to his followers, asking what kind of collaborations they’d love to see. Many responded, saying they’d love to see him create an exclusive collection of luxury handbags.
Tao met with Givenchy, who (quite sensibly) jumped into the partnership. Mr Bags worked with Givenchy to design the limited edition collection of 80 handbags, posting them exclusively to millions of followers on WeChat a few days before Valentine’s Day.
The entire Valentine’s collection sold out in 12 minutes of going live. With each bag going for 15,000 RMB (almost £1,700), this is a huge sell. Launching the collection on WeChat enabled speedy sales, thanks to the app’s multi-functional ecosystem which includes WeChat Pay and WeChat stores.
It’s an app that’s completely entwined itself into day-to-day lives in China, which means any brands wanting to appeal to tech-savvy, fashion-forward Chinese consumers should make themselves visible on the platform.
Two crucial factors to consider when selling to millennials purchasing luxury products are quality and uniqueness, according to a survey on their spending habits by Deloitte. The limited nature of Givenchy’s collection oozes luxury, creating an image of prestige and exclusivity that evidently piqued the interest of customers.
It’s clear that, in order for brands to be successful with KOLs in the Chinese market, there needs to be an organic fit with the influencer and the platform. Mr Bags told Jing Daily how his sponsorships and partnerships are never fake, or contradictions to his own brand:
“Whenever we are starting a new project, I talk to the brand myself about what I like and what my Bagfans are currently in love with. Then, we decide which bags to promote. There has never been a situation where I have to say I’m fond of a bag that I actually don’t like."
The KOL knows his Bagfans. He knew the collection with Givenchy would go down a treat with said Bagfans. He also knew that launching for a special occasion would be perfect - and he definitely knew WeChat was the relevant platform for the job. It’s this authenticity and KOL knowledge that makes a campaign powerful - it’s not forced, it’s completely relevant and it’s exactly what the audience wants.