China Social Media In 2023: The Brand Guide To WeChat, Douyin, Xiaohongshu And Other Platforms
In 2022, China’s luxury goods market boasted a staggering transaction volume of $135 billion (956 billion yuan), representing a significant share of the global market. With borders reopening and international travel on the rise, 2023 presents an excellent opportunity for luxury brands to captivate Chinese consumers with fresh experiences and adventures.
But to really stand out and establish connections with younger consumers, it’s crucial for brands to choose the right social media platforms carefully and take advantage of their innovative features. A recently published report by Chozan titled “China E-Commerce, Marketing and Digital Space 2023” offers several key marketing insights on how a brand can stand out on these platforms, summarized below.
Before choosing your social media platform, be sure to follow these best practices:
Engage with relevant topics and build a community centered around broader themes such as culture, fashion and art. This way, you can easily connect with younger users on Xiaohongshu. Meaningful offline exhibitions and login activities displayed on Xiaohongshu can increase loyalty and provide unique cultural experiences for fans. Luxury brands should aim for subtle, genuine and localized storytelling:
Emphasize your long history, traditions and classic values. During Chinese festivals, Weibo posts can be used to convey pure and fresh greetings, while short films about Bilibili can help build long-term brand assets by showcasing cultural initiatives and seasonal shows. Using gamification on WeChat to boost a brand’s social currency:
Luxury brands can design their own communication methods inspired by entertainment and technology, creating exciting opportunities beyond the platform’s traditional features.
These features can help you create the perfect marketing strategy in China. Brands will need to identify what best resonates with their brand and go with it.
Share heartfelt stories through videos on Weibo.
Weibo is a platform that luxury brands can use to manage events and endorse celebrities, but relying on brand-owned hashtags and influencer matrices is not enough to stand out during Chinese festivals. Short videos with compelling storytelling can create deeper emotional connections with audiences and effectively communicate brand messages.
Bottega Veneta’s short video “Reunion in Motion” captured the emotions of people returning to their hometowns ahead of Chinese New Year, brought to life in January 2023 by a month-long train journey across the country. Genuine video storytelling is essential for luxury brands to make a lasting impression during Chinese holidays.
Use emotional content on Bilibili.
Bilibili stands out as a platform that speaks directly to the hearts of people with diverse interests and lifestyles, rather than targeting a massive audience. Authenticity and sincerity are highly valued, and the promotion of cultural sophistication is essential to exhibit deeper values and aspirations.
Burberry’s short video “Under the Skin” effectively brings the tradition of clothing production alive with a modern twist, reviving cultural heritage.
Design exciting closed shopping experiences via Douyin.
Douyin has evolved from “interest e-commerce” to a “full-field interest e-commerce” system, integrating innovative technologies such as AR try into a closed-loop system of product, effect and sales. This has led to a mature market for fashion and luxury content consumption on the platform, with monthly short video playback reaching 10 billion and live streaming viewers reaching 20 billion.
To revamp the shopping experience, luxury brand Prada launched the #Prada Love Gift Challenge on Douyin, with an AR test function for hats and sunglasses. Users can capture and publish interactive short videos expressing their love, in addition to browsing Prada’s e-commerce store. By leveraging Douyin’s technological features, luxury brands can offer an immersive and exciting shopping journey.
Generate excitement using gamified Mini Programs on WeChat.
WeChat’s mini-programs can help luxury brands reach China’s large gaming community and engage with the 70 percent of young audiences who discover luxury brands through social platforms. Incorporating mobile gaming elements on WeChat enables brands to expand their target audience, increase user engagement and create a lasting impression.
For example, Louis Vuitton released a 3D game on its WeChat mini-program called “麻jump” to celebrate its first restaurant in Chengdu. The game included local elements such as hotpot and spears in vivid scenarios with hip-hop or Chinese classical music. By offering a fun and interactive experience, LV impressed young customers and showcased its creative interpretation of local culture.
Share artistic brand philosophies on Xiaohongshu.
Luxury brands have earned a good reputation in the Xiaohongshu community thanks to young users who share their experiences authentically and vividly. Taking advantage of the growing interest in art exhibitions on the platform, Dior launched the “Dior and Art” hashtag to attract users to attend its offline shows and fully immerse themselves in the brand’s culture.
If you want to effectively market your brand in China in 2023, Chinese social media is the place to be. However, brands must choose the right platform for their audience and goals to be effective.
This is an opinion piece where all views expressed belong to the author.
Ashley Galina Dudarenok is a Chinese serial entrepreneur, award-winning digital marketing professional and three-time best-selling author. She is the founder of China-focused digital marketing agency Alarice and digital consulting company ChoZan 超赞.