WeChat continues to dominate the Chinese social media landscape and luxury brands are flocking to the platform but not every brand is using it the same way to reach consumers, according to a new research from luxury news website Jing Daily.
The number of luxury brands with a WeChat account grew by 87 percent between April 2014 and April of this year and 92 percent of brands have an account on the platform, said Jing Daily, citing figures from consultancy L2. But interestingly, not all luxury brands have chosen to open the same type of account on the social media platform, which counts some 700 million users. Brands that are using WeChat primarily to push out a steady stream of content on a daily basis might go one route while brands looking to open actual storefronts on WeChat could go the other.
Some 77 percent of luxury brands have opted for a service account while the remainder has gone with subscription accounts, according to Jing Daily. Service accounts allow brands to make up to four posts per month and support more high-tech, interactive features like certain games. Perhaps more importantly, these types of accounts also offer WeChat payment functions that brands need to open WeChat storefronts. Subscription accounts, often used by media companies and bloggers, allow a company to post once each day but don’t offer WeChat payment options.
Brands with service accounts include Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger, Coach, Chow Tai Fook and Salvatore Ferragamo. Those with subscription accounts include Balenciaga, Gucci and Chanel. Jing Daily said service accounts make the most sense for brands looking to take advantage of all of WeChat’s more advanced features. It also cautioned that brands going the subscription route should be sure they have a solid content plan in place to adequately replenish their channels more than four times a month.
The report cited a “gamification trend” that luxury brands are riding to tap into China’s vast pool of 365 million smartphone gamers. There are already more mobile internet users in the country than desktop users and games are an effective tool for reaching those consumers on the go, Jing Daily said, estimating that some 35 percent of fashion brands and 46 percent of watch and jewelry brands have developed games for WeChat. Last month, Louis Vuitton launched a game on WeChat where users can pick out gifts for their friends or relatives based on their personality types.
In terms of actual commerce occurring on the platform, luxury brands have been slower to embrace WeChat storefronts but that is starting to change. Dior and Bulgari set up short-term WeChat stores to sell specific products to coincide with the Qixi Festival in August. Meanwhile, Cartier and Pernot Ricard have launched full-fledged permanent storefronts on WeChat.