In today’s post-pandemic new normal, companies are responding to the changing consumer behavior by modifying their business models and pushing for more innovation. A great example of this is co-branding, an increasingly popular strategy in China where people’s appetite for new and adventurous concepts is growing. When two brands with shared values deliver a unique product under the same umbrella, they can create a win-win situation for both. Here is a look at what it takes to launch a successful brand partnership on the China market.
Communicate the public opinion
Chinese consumers take pride in their country’s ability to recover from COVID-19 with less repercussions than the rest of the world. For 1.4 billion people, this is a hard-won achievement worth praising. While Coca-Cola’s spokespeople typically include sports stars like Yao Ming and Liu Xiang, this collaboration between Pepsi and People’s Daily highlights essential workers such as delivery couriers and volunteers as the unsung heroes of our day.
Localize, localize, localize
Crossovers that in the West might seem over the top tend to become wanghong (Internet famous) in China. Jiangxiaobai, a popular baijiu brand for young adults, made a strategic decision when partnering up with Pocky, an iconic snack loved by many across Asia. Through this novelty product, both companies can reach each other’s audience while boosting their individual brand image.
Invest in social currency
Creating social buzz is arguably the most critical point of leverage for a successful co-branding campaign. In China, shopping is considered entertainment and extends to formats such as live streaming and online gaming. M.A.C’s lipstick collection in collaboration with a smash-hit mobile game Honor of Kings taps into the virtual world through storytelling in pursuit of millennial consumers. The collection secured 14 000 pre-orders and sold out across all channels withing the first 24 hours.
Leverage nostalgia marketing
Smart Chinese brands are tapping into positive cultural memories from the past decades to engage with consumers both old and young alike. After launching White Rabbit drinks, ice cream and cakes, the childhood favorite turned to Scent Library for a line of skincare products to be exclusively sold on Tmall. According to Alibaba, over 14,000 items were snapped up in the first 10 seconds after the range debuted.
Understand the needs of Gen Z
Aspiring marketers will learn from Perfect Diary for years to come. The O2O beauty brand expanded much like Glossier in the US by first building a strong following online followed by offline experiences. The brand’s bread and butter has been co-branding with established names such as the National Geographic and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. As Kronenbourg 1664 can be found in most F&B establishments from Chongqing to Shaoxing, it made sense for the skincare brand to excite the trendy consumers with a range of lip glosses and passion fruit-flavoured beer.
Take cues from the streets
Streetwear is a lucrative business in China, with consumer spending reaching nearly four times more than other apparel segments from 2015 to 2020. It is an exciting category since Chinese consumers A) have the purchasing power B) are less prone to gender-oriented fashion codes and C) tend to blur the lines between high and low, new and old. For many, finding the golden arches of McDonald’s on a pair of Adidas sneakers makes as much sense as Anta’s collaboration with Sprite. Both fun and recognizable, these brands put emphasis on lifestyle rather than offering a singular product.
When well-executed, co-branding can increase awareness and create a unique point of difference. With the best practices listed above, success is not guaranteed, but they provide an excellent framework for creating the ultimate brand experience. Contact China Skinny to find the best solution for you.