Posts by barbara

China KOLs are ‘a true media vehicle’

China’s key opinion leader economy is forecast to top Rmb 100bn next year as brands flock to influencers to promote their products.

“More than in any other country, [KOLs] have taken the lead to be a true media vehicle,’ according to Greg Paull, principal of R3, a global marketing consultancy.

“Much like you would use a TV campaign or other promotion, most marketers in China have a KOL strategy,” he told the Financial Times.

That’s true of all categories, from FMCG to luxury. And while it’s not necessarily cheap – luxury watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre is reported to have paid “at least” Rmb5m ($731,000) to run a campaign with girl-next-door vlogger Papi Jiang – it can be very effective: Jaeger-LeCoultre’s brand awareness more than doubled.

And when designer Michael Kors threw a birthday party for actress Yang Mi, she shared it with her 72m followers on Weibo and received more than 12m comments and likes.

“We have clients who move all of their advertising online and KOL endorsement is the primary driver outside of Baidu search,” said Brian Buchwald, cofounder and chief executive of consumer research company Bomoda.

“They are trying to put as much money into KOLs as they can.” The KOL economy is projected to double in two years, from Rmb 53bn in 2016 to Rmb102bn in 2018, according to consultancy form Analysis.

And ever-increasing amounts are being devoted to livestreaming, which has taken off in a big way, with more than 200 livestreaming apps available, including Weibo, although there is always the threat of a crackdown by government authorities seeking to control the dissemination of online content.

From an advertiser’s point of view one of the attractions of livestreaming, according to Buchwald, is that “a lot of platforms have a greater level of interactivity between the KOL and the watcher. They encourage live engagement . . . with the KOLs.”

Advertisers also need to remember that viewers themselves are generally platform-neutral and follow the person.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff

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Chinese Millennials Evolve with Desire for Self Actualization

How Self-Actualization Became the New Luxury for Chinese Millennials
Jasmine Bina July 3, 2017

Jing Daily

As generations evolve, so too do their markers of luxury. Price points, heritage and access barriers that once defined luxury along a clear spectrum have given way to something more multi-dimensional for Chinese millennial consumers. Whether post-80s, post-90s or even post-95s, this powerful demographic is redefining what affluent consumerism means, and just as they seek more latitude in their personal identities, they are also expanding the definition of new luxury.

Much like their western counterparts, Chinese millennials are supporting a much more fragmented luxury ecosystem than ever before, creating room for new brands that don’t fit the typical narrative. Brands like Thom Browne, A Bathing Ape, Sandro and Vêtements are capturing affluent dollars that may have otherwise been spent on traditional names like Chanel and Louis Vuitton.

Unlike their western equivalents, however, Chinese millennials have created a value system of human intangibles that speak to their own unique needs and experiences. It’s those nuanced intangibles that underlie the emergence of new luxury today—a new luxury that creates connection on multiple levels.

Mining the value of today. There’s a growing need for self-actualization among affluent Chinese millennials, evidence of which is popping up across the luxury sector. From travel to apparel and business, realizing one’s potential in the here-and-now is becoming more and more important.
This is the first generation to widely accept short-term debt in exchange for instant gratification, placing less emphasis on long-term financial planning than their parents did. A combination of relaxed policy and easy lending options, along with near-ubiquitous mobile purchasing power, is only feeding into a larger mentality where the perceived value of tomorrow is shifting to the immediate value of today.

Upticks in custom ‘off the beaten path’ travel, heavily tribal brand experiences and the growing transformation economy show how this mental shift is creating a new norm in luxury behavior. These are experiences that force a present mindset that indulges in today – an indulgence that goes beyond merely showing off one’s wealth or seeking immediate gratification.

For Chinese millennials that have felt heavy pressure to invest in tomorrow or reflect on yesterday, today is a space they have reclaimed as their own. Having grown up in a time of tremendous cultural and economic change, connection to the here-and-now provides a sense of safety, freedom and meaning where the rewards are tangible.

Freedom to move between spaces

Mining the value of today points to something even deeper for Chinese consumers. Yes, they embrace the historic social and cultural systems they were raised in, but at the same time, they eagerly move toward a more global vision of the future. These are consumers who both honor their heritage (with a special connection to parents and grandparents that doted on them as golden children) and simultaneously find it important to act as global citizens.
Reconciling the past with the future is in some ways a new interpretation of luxury for many Chinese millennials. In an emotional economy where purchases are less about the product and more about how those products make one feel, it’s no wonder that these same affluent consumers look for brands that can help them not only focus on today, but allow them to move between yesterday and tomorrow without friction.

It’s why those same consumers who seek “off the beaten path” travel experiences often turn their trips into multi-generational excursions. It’s part of the reason why nostalgia marketing is having a moment, and why a brand like Nike can smartly adapt it’s Just Do It message to bridge a millennial’s past to their future. And perhaps even more telling, it’s why an established brand like Victoria’s Secret’s can seem tone deaf when it sends models wearing dragon-themed get-ups down the runway.

Today’s new luxury brands help reconcile the tension many young Chinese feel when moving between these spaces. It’s not about preaching a new ideal (a thin line that a brand like SK-II carefully straddles), but rather freeing millennials to connect with both the past and future… without breaking ties to either.

Finding a higher value system

The freedom to move between spaces takes a literal shift with travel. Experiential, custom and adventure travel is becoming core to the luxury experience for China’s wealthy millennials, and it signals a special perspective that is starting to emerge.

These travelers are better English speakers, becoming more sophisticated in their tastes (increasingly seeking out better quality and more innovative brands), and educating themselves in the constructs of luxury on a global level. Travel, for Chinese millennials, means empowerment.
But with that empowerment comes the very unique luxury of being able to see oneself outside of typical cultural constructs. Millennials who may feel limited when seeing themselves through the eyes of their parents, grandparents and community peers, feel a unique freedom when seeing themselves through the eyes of the global community instead.

Travel creates a connection to something bigger than culture or expectation. It is a connection to the world that in many ways supersedes all else. It is the new luxury of being able to create one’s own value system.

Searching for a higher framework – one with perhaps more latitude and room for exploration – is one of the highest life changing elements of value for Chinese millennials. In luxury, it is the stepping stone to self-actualization.

The luxury of connection

As fragmented and diverse as Chinese millennials may be, this group shares one thing in common – the perceived luxury of connection.
It poses a huge shift from traditional luxury norms that pervaded even a decade ago. As consumers become more educated and empowered, luxury brands must consider whether the old model of authority will continue in the long term.

The post-80’s, 90’s and 95’s don’t wholeheartedly accept the notion of compromise. It’s clear they believe in living multi-dimensional lives, embodying multiple mindsets, beliefs and connections. This is their new luxury.

Jasmine Bina is president of Concept Bureau in Los Angeles, CA. Reach her at jasmine@theconceptbureau.com.

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Social Media Usage Gains in China

eMarketer Bumps Up Estimates for Social Media Usage in China
More than 80% of internet users will use a social network regularly
June 27, 2017 | Social Media

More than eight in 10 internet users in China, or 626 million people, will access social networks regularly in 2017, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast.

eMarketer has raised its previous estimates for social network user growth in China by more than 4%, mainly because of older users increasingly using homegrown messaging platform WeChat to perform a myriad of tasks that reach far beyond messaging. For example, 62.0% of internet users ages 55 to 64 in the country will be social network users this year—equating to 28.8 million individuals.

Mobile Phone Social Network Users and Penetration in China, 2016-2021 (millions, % change and % of social network users)

WeChat’s popularity, coupled with rising smartphone adoption, has also helped to drive the number of mobile phone social network users in China. In 2017, just over 483 million people—or 35.0% of the country’s population—will access social media via that device.

Since its launch in 2011, WeChat has evolved into a must-have app in China, via which users can perform numerous activities like shopping, having food delivered, booking a doctor’s appointment and paying bills.

“WeChat’s further expansion into the areas of payments, shopping and general utility have proven fruitful for China’s social networking and messaging giant,” said Monica Peart, eMarketer’s senior forecasting director. “And it will only increase the attraction for new mobile users and older users, as WeChat increasingly has something for everyone.”

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What you need to know to reach Chinese Consumers

4 Findings on the Digital Habits of Chinese Consumers that Luxury Brands Need to Know

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Chinese Digital Influencers Fuel Massive ‘Fan Economy’

Chinese Digital Influencers Fuel Massive “Fan” Economy

All Indicators Point to China as the Market to Target

Fashion blogger Mr Bags is among the rising band of Chinese entrepreneurs converting digital influence into sales, and attracting the attention of luxury brands eager to cash in on the huge “fan economy”.

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