Sheryl Shen
Sheryl Shen
12 March 2020 0 Comments

Analysis of three additional buzz words that are commonly used in Chinese product marketing approach and that they mean for brands.

Unlike the buzzwords we covered in last week’s article which are more commonly used in Chinese consumer journey, the following are more product-specific. With the Chinese market changing so rapidly, it is essential for brands to understand the lingo and their root meaning, allowing us to have a glimpse into the complex Chinese consumer mindset.

爆款 Bào Kuǎn (The “Explosively-Popular” Item)

同款 Tóng Kuǎn (“The Same” Item)

网红款Wǎng Hóng Kuǎn (The “Web-Famous” Item)

These three terms can be seen in product communications on popular ecommerce (eg. Tmall, JD) and social ecommerce channels (e.g. Little Red Book, Douyin, WeChat). Although these three buzzwords seem similar – all sharing the same ending character – their root meaning is drastically different depending on which consumer groups are being targeted.

Viya Baa Kuan explosively popularVya used爆款( Bào Kuǎn) when promoting New Zealand’s GeoSkincare on the brand’s Douyin ad feed. The product generates 400k+ monthly sales on a single top-selling product listing on its Tmall flagship store.

爆款Bào Kuǎn literally means an “explosively-popular” item, referring to a product that continuously generates high sales volumes. 爆款(Bào Kuǎn) means “trusted by countless other people” in the minds of Chinese consumers, who know other consumers will only purchase this item because of its high quality and trustworthy brand. However, this term has been overly used and manipulated by many sellers and KOLs in the market, causing some consumers to become suspicious of commercially-forced terminology. Hence, when used unattentively, the usage of the buzzword could be counterproductive, leading to negative associations of the product and brand.

Takeaways For Brands:

  • With the right marketing approach to emphasize positive associations of a country’s origin, 爆款 Bào Kuǎn (The “Explosively-Popular” Item) can be a very useful term for brands that have hero products selling extraordinarily well in their home countries
  • When used half-heartedly and unattentively, the term can sometimes bring negative associations that will impact the brand image.

Little Red Book - Tong Kuan

When searching 同款 Tóng Kuǎn on popular UCG social commerce platform Little Red Book, 800K+ notes (posts), 20k+ items show up as results, demonstrating the high consumer demand.

同款Tóng Kuǎn means “the same item as someone else.” In the world of marketing in China,  “someone else” refers to celebrities and idols – good-looking celebrities usually from outside of China,  such as Korea and Japan. China’s idol market is forecast to be worth ¥100 billion ($14 billion) by 2020 and half of that is expected to be contributed by fans consuming products and services related to the stars. The term “Celebrity Same Item” (明星同款) is highly lucrative and has similar effects to having celebrity ambassadors.

Besides idols, celebrities and KOLs, “same item” with characters on TV shows can largely affect consumer shopping behaviour as well. Yao Chen with her tough female character in the TV drama All is Well spurred a sharp increase in female consumers buying suits – taking over men as the main suit purchaser on Taobao in 2019.

Takeaways For Brands:

  • Brands should carefully consider the hero products and a suitable ambassador and channels to take advantage of the “someone else” attraction.
  • Brands need to stay on top of market shifts, monitoring the usage of “同款” relating to its products and managing poor representation of the brand.

网红款 Wǎng Hóng Kuǎn means an item that is praised online by KOLs or is trending on social commerce platforms such Douyin/Little Red Book. 网红(Wǎng Hóng) refers to “influencers” which is the forerunner for KOLs these days and drives sales. These days, term has become a little outdated and has mostly negative associations, with Wǎng Hóng products perceived to not have genuine qualities, rather just popularity through marketing. The term used to mean something different and eye-catching that makes people want to go try it out; Now, since everything and everyone can be 网红(Wǎng Hóng), it has lost its edge.

Takeways For Brands:

  • For newcomers in the market, we’d recommend staying away from this type of clichéd, outdated term, even if it might seem to generate considerable sales for some products. Also be wary of those perceived large sales, as they too can be a part of the promotional strategy – fake sales number on Taobao stores.
  • Again, it is essential for brands on stay relevant in the market and current with newly-emerging trends to capture consumers’ changing interests. Stay on the cool side!

As you will realize, marketing buzzwords in China – like most things in the Chinese marketing world, are double-edged swords. Only by using them carefully and strategically can they be profitable and contribute to a high ROI.

Thank you for reading this week’s article. If you have any questions on finding the right buzzwords, communications or marketing channels, please feel free to contact us at China Skinny!