WeChat has been losing momentum as a content platform for years. As brands suffer traffic loss, mainly on WeChat Official Accounts, many are forced to buy fake views and comments to keep the engagement. Is WeChat dead? How to smartly leverage WeChat for your China marketing in 2023?
In this article, we will take a few brands as examples to analyze their WeChat marketing strategies, success and loss. We will cover international brands of different tiers, from Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Lululemon, to Zara, and Uniqlo.
WeChat has lost momentum as a content marketing platform
We analyzed the number of average views of headline articles on WeChat in October 2022. What is worth more attention is the general decline of viewership compared to October 2021.
Well-established fashion brands such as Zara suffered a -42.7% drop in average views. Even the new star Lululemon seems to have lost momentum on WeChat with a -27.1% decrease.
Uniqlo and Louis Vuitton seem to have kept their WeChat audience, maintaining the average view at 100,000 for headline articles.
Ralph Lauren draws a more optimistic picture, growing at 38.5% in average views. However, if we look further, there is more under the iceberg.
For example, some articles from Ralph Lauren have gained exactly the same number of views. On WeChat, brands or influencers can include several articles and send them all in one publication. According to our experience, the headline article usually has the highest number of views. The secondary article is usually around 15% – 30% (if not lower) of the headline article’s performance. Although there is no concrete proof, having an identical number of views for the headline and secondary article looks abnormal and may indicate fake numbers.
However, it doesn’t mean that WeChat has lost all its value in brand’s China marketing.
WeChat remains strong as a loyalty & community platform
Apart from selling on WeChat Store, international and local brands also use WeChat as a loyalty platform. Brands can create WeChat groups with loyal customers or launch a WeChat mini program to organize offline events.
For example, Lululemon leverages WeChat mini program to organize offline fitness events. Users can find community activities such as body combat, running, yoga, pilates, etc., in various locations from top-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai, to new immerging cities like Chongqing, Nanjing, etc. Such activities connect loyal customers and create a positive emotional attachment to the brand, which is a clever way to build a dedicated community.
Create WeChat mini program for branding & engagement
During Covid, many luxury brands built a WeChat mini program for VR stores, offering customers a similar shopping experience while offline shopping wasn’t possible.
As many Chinese cities have recently opened up, offline activities have vibrated again. More brands are using WeChat mini program to drive traffic offline.
For example, Burberry used WeChat mini program to invite customers to explore their offline café. They also encourage people to share their experiences on WeChat and Red (Xiaohongshu/Little Red Book). They built a pop-up store & café in a ski resort to highlight their winter coats collection. Outdoor Ski is considered a “luxury” sport in China because of the skiing equipment’s price, the sport’s seasonality, and the scarcity of quality ski resorts. By opening a pop-up store at ski resorts, luxury brands smartly target high-income groups with sophisticated lifestyles while creating more buzz and “desire” thanks to social media.
Every year, top luxury brands create dedicated campaigns on WeChat mini programs, especially on special occasions such as new collection drops, store openings, Chinese New Year, Chinese Valentine’s Day, etc.
In November, Louis Vuitton launched a dedicated WeChat mini-program game called “Ma Jump” (麻Jump) to create buzz for its very first restaurant, “THE HALL,” opening in Chengdu, China.
In this mini game, players need to control the direction of a small ball to reach the goal. The game itself is not too original, but what’s more exciting is the local cultural elements that Louis Vuitton embraces in this small game:
- The name of the game resembles “Ma Jiang (麻将)” in Chinese, which is a traditional tile-based game well-spread across the country;
- Apart from LV’s Monogram, users can notice more Chinese elements such as panda, chilly pepper, stone lines;
- the background music of the game is created by a local rapper, etc…
Louis Vuitton did a great job going “Glocal,” maintaining a luxury positioning while showing respect for traditional Chinese culture. The effort has gained goodwill and recognition from local customers.
Leverage WeChat Video Account (WeChat Channels) just like Douyin
WeChat also noticed that traditional text articles in Official Accounts are losing traction and have launched a “copycat” of Douyin within the WeChat ecosystem, called WeChat Video Account or WeChat Channels.
Up to 2021, WeChat Channels have 500 million DAU (Daily Active Users), growing at 79% year-on-year. It’s expected to reach 600 million DAU in 2022. Compared to Douyin‘s 800 million DAU, WeChat Channels still have some way to go. However, considering WeChat has 1.2 billion Monthly Active Users, it’s still possible for it to catch up with Douyin in user volume.
WeChat has put a lot of effort into attracting content creators to the platforms and supporting their monetization with traffic coupons. However, when it comes to brand accounts, we can still notice a significant gap between the viewership and engagement between WeChat channels and Douyin.
For example, the same short video that Burberry published on Douyin gained 15,000 likes, while on the WeChat channel, only 149 likes; same as Louis Vuitton, the video that got 23,000 likes on Douyin only managed to impress 79 users.
There is still a long way to go for WeChat Channels. For brands already operating a Douyin account, it’s wise to republish the Douyin content on WeChat Channels. However, most of the traffic and engagement will still come from Douyin.
WeChat Advertising can yield positive ROI for retargeting
For branding campaigns, WeChat Moment Ads remains a powerful tool to reach a maximum of 1.4 billion Chinese people. For performance / sales-oriented objectives, it’s also smart to leverage WeChat for retargeting. Especially if the brand has a WeChat mini program Store, we can target customers who entered the store to remind purchase or target customers who purchased before to cross-sell or up-sell. Both methods can yield positive ROI and bring real sales returns to your brand. If you need help with how to do so, feel free to reach out to us!
WeChat Marketing Conclusion
In summary, WeChat is losing momentum as a content platform. Maintaining engagement or gaining new followers on WeChat Official Account is hard without advertising spending or purchasing views. But still, brands don’t need to give up on WeChat completely. Here are a few tips to follow:
- Engage with your loyal customers through WeChat Official Account
- Keep your VIP customers close by creating WeChat Group for community management
- Use WeChat Channels (WeChat Video Account) to republish your Douyin videos
- Run WeChat retargeting ad campaigns during key sales seasons.
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