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With the heralded Singles’ Day looming over the minds of anyone with an ear towards China, Alibaba’s gargantuan sales machine has primed its engines. With its fashion week in the rear-view mirror, a gloomy Sunday in Shanghai saw the Oriental Sports Stadium play host to the Tmall Collection, China’s ground-breaking fashion show, or maybe more accurately, ‘fashion festival’.

Built upon Tmall’s live-streaming platform, the event provided a celebration of offline-to-online innovation. It did so within a market it dominates; Tmall holds a near 80% market share in online B2C sales of apparel and accessories, an industry set to exceed RMB1 trillion in sales in 2017. The 8-hour fashion show was watched by 1.3 million consumers on a specially designed interface. If the viewer liked what they saw on the screen, a couple taps would take them to a product page to proceed with their purchase; the impulsive shoppers among us heavily preyed upon.

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The money-spinning slogan of the day, often lit up across the colossal stage, shouted “See Now, Buy Now”. Chris Tung, Chief Marketing Officer of Alibaba Group, coined a subtler turn of phrase, hoping to see Tmall achieve the status of a lifestyle trendsetter with “a fashion week at your fingertips”. It was a recurring theme on the day, with consumers prompted at every turn to get on their phones and take advantage of the discounted garments set to be fulfilled on Singles’ Day. The platform played perfectly for its target audience with endless comments and ‘likes’ flying through the screen, spiking in accordance with celebrities or notable moments. These interactive live streaming events are a phenomenal way to get your consumers interested, as we recently found out with Comvita.

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The day was poised to kick-start the build-up to 11/11’s consumer mayhem, serving up a sometimes confusing but fascinating blend of incredible consumer trends and the aspirations of a premium fashion show.

The morning press conference had the big names behind the marketing efforts of Alibaba coupled with the fashion expertise of ELLE and WGSN duly paying lip-service to the event. They noted Shanghai’s fashion week as one of the top-5 in the world, spoken in the same breath as the likes of Paris and Milan. Numbers and names flew around the room for this event; over 150 international models, over 80 brands on display, with Maye Musk and Nick Wooster headlining the foreign influence. As always with this audience, bigger is better, and 8 hours of fashion action promised to sate their hunger.

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Of course, this all played into the Singles’ Day hype with those targeting the day with a special release brought to the stage. As is tradition we weren’t short of some mind-bending stats. Both Maserati and New Balance aim to break records. Maserati hope to beat the 100 SUVs sold in 18 seconds at their Tmall launch in March. New Balance, not to be outdone, quickly noted that last year’s Jay Chou collaboration reached 100 sales in 9 seconds.

With the press conference behind us we pressed on to the main event. Alibaba’s ploy to interact its audience with everything wasn’t limited to their online platform. A gauntlet of products, prize draws and even hairstyles drew our attention as we pushed onwards to our seats, all available for the time it took to scan a QR code. The advent of live streaming was clearly on display even before reaching the show. Alibaba’s slick transformation of advertising into an eagerly consumed form of entertainment was rampant.

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Dolled-up models temperately displayed their wares amongst the throng, fielding live questions and catching passers-by for an interview. This set the scene for what was to come in this increasingly festival-like atmosphere. It may have missed the sleek and exclusive appeal of their ‘peers’ in New York and Paris but in doing so became an entirely different experience. Like a festival-goer with his favourite artists, the programme prompted attendees to note down which brands they wanted to see and come and go as they please.

The show operated on the 6 hottest trends identified by fashion authorities ELLE and WGSN. Developed under the empowered umbrella term “Boundless” these covered “genderless”, “fun is everything”, “athleisure”, “power dressing”, “the Eastern character” and “a curated life”. Even though these trends played a part in the proceedings they took a backseat to the festivities. The experience was partly a digital one and the glitz and the spending is what won the day. A highlight of the day was the much-awaited Burberry show. Announcing a new scent, a mist cloud of the fragrance diffused over the stage and into the audience while an umbrella-wielding model strutted out underneath – a sight surely set to send social media accounts buzzing.

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The day proved interesting, and built upon the growing expectations for Singles’ Day. Less than two weeks away and murmurs of savvy consumers crafting their plan of attack for the 11th November have grown stronger. For some greater insights into this unparalleled event or how to resonate with Chinese consumers get in touch with China Skinny. With a deep understanding of the Chinese market we can help you take advantage of events like Singles’ Day.

 

Connecting with Chinese Consumers

Gaining exposure in China can be challenging – not just for new brands, but also for brands who already have an established presence in the market.  The most successful companies are those who are aware of the latest marketing channels and opportunities, and embrace them in a way that is relevant to their target markets.

Adopting the right marketing channels soon after they launch is often much more cost effective than waiting until every other brand is having a go.  This enables brands to establish a foothold before the channel becomes too competitive, and also capture consumers while the method is still novel and new – something Chinese consumers love.

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Alibaba’s Tmall Live Marketing Platform

Alibaba recently launched Tmall Live, a modern take on China’s popular TV Shopping networks.  Viewers watch live streaming videos from brands official store on the Tmall Smartphone app to learn about the brand and products, with the ability to purchase products at promotional rates and win prizes.  The platform takes advantage of the interactivity that only the Internet allows: allowing viewers to engage with the live stream hosts, the brand and each other, asking questions, comments and liking.Comvita_Head-Office

Comvita’s Tmall Live Campaign

Comvita is the best-known Manuka honey brand in China and globally.  Having been in the China market for more than 20 years, it is an established leader in the fast-growing natural health category.

China Skinny worked with Comvita and their Chinese distributor to build on this brand leadership through a Tmall Live stream to increase awareness of Comvita and its products and what makes its honey products so special.

One of Comvita’s key brand pillars is the pure, GM free source of its New Zealand honey and its stringent, hi-tech product development and production facilities.  To reinforce this positioning, we broadcasted the 90-minute show live from Comvita’s headquarters in New Zealand.

Viewers got the inside scoop into Comvita’s New Zealand stunning visitor centre and technical, production and warehousing facilities, going beyond sites that are normally available to the public.  All this happened through the convenience of a smartphone in China.

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Selling the Comvita Dream

The live stream focused on Comvita’s compelling brand story, with its founder living almost 103 years thanks to his healthy lifestyle.  Comvita experts such as charismatic co-founder Alan Bougen, humorous Technology GM Tony Wright and charming product manager Charlotte Jones all provided useful facts translated on the fly by the exemplary hosts Monica Mu and Stef Qi.

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The Comvita employees gave their personal experiences from using Comvita products, allowing viewers to learn more about the products and educating them about how best to consume them.

China Skinny took the time to understand the target markets’ needs and wants, and ensured content made a direct connection between the benefits of Comvita products and how they assisted in viewers achieving health, beauty, career, family and lifestyle goals.

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Users’ comments and questions came in fast and wide, with 79,000 comments and 263,000 likes during the 120-minute live stream.  Popular subjects were prompted by the direction of the script, covering UMF and other grading systems to determine the quality of Manuka honey, and perceptions of the use of Manuka honey. The session also provided some valuable consumer insights into areas for future education, with shoppers asking questions even before the live feed started.

The Tmall Live stream was tied in with Comvita’s official Tmall store and included quizzes, vouchers and animations, creating an alluring environment with the thrill of being part of a special event that was taking place in New Zealand. The engagement from viewers indicated that the informative, educational and fun live stream appealed to the affluent urban women target market throughout China.

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Tmall Live provides your brand and products another great and measurable opportunity to build awareness and ultimately sales.  It can be even more effective when tied in with other marketing initiatives.

Get in touch today to find out more about creating relevant and engaging content and how China Skinny can assist you with successful marketing to Chinese consumers.