Leveraging Social Platforms For Brand Success

Leveraging Social Platforms For Brand Success

While it is certainly important and meaningful for consumers to know that their brand stands for something beyond the products they sell, we build brands for one reason – to drive business. We’ve said before that the business of China is business, and if you want to find inspiration for what the future might be, look no further than emerging markets, particularly China.

Today, online shopping in China has never been more easy or intuitive. While there’s plenty of excitement happening from e-commerce leaders like Alibaba, at the opposite end, brands are tapping into the power of small, looking at social platforms like WeChat to bring their brands and the customers who buy closer together, and with less friction.

Nearly one-third of Chinese consumers spend about four hours per day using the WeChat app. Not only do they use it to message friends, they use it to pay bills, and it seems more are using it to shop. Jessica Rapp highlights how beauty brand FeelUnique recently setup an e-commerce service on the platform’s Mini Program (a lightweight sub-app), allowing users to seamlessly browse and buy all their cosmetics without ever having to leave the app.

FeelUnique CEO Joël Palix says, “Our Mini Program represents an additional channel to drive consumer acquisition in China. It will leverage our existing WeChat presence—which includes an official account with over 100,000 followers and a WeChat store—by enabling customers to complete a purchase within the WeChat ecosystem.”

Since WeChat’s launching of Mini Programs in 2017, more than half a million have been developed, and more than one-third of users spend between $80-$150 per month, using WeChat Pay. And while the social commerce approach is not unique to China, it seems China is where the approach is most successful. Instagram has been rolling out a feature that allows users to connect to a purchasing page by engaging with a shoppable post, but only five products can be listed at once. Facebook has also been experimenting with e-commerce too, but as a media company, many brands want Facebook to drive traffic to retailers rather than becoming a retailer.

What’s great is the partnership between brands and the WeChat platform, which is investing significant money in creating and offering new ways for shoppers to engage brands within their ecosystem. As Rapp highlights, “L’Oréal harnessed a WeChat Mini Program to create a shoppable livestream event at the Cannes Film Festival. And in the household goods arena, Pinduoduo, a similar platform to Groupon, shot up to the number two e-commerce app in China in December 2017, gaining popularity by allowing users to gather WeChat friends to buy the same product, to get major discounts. And the social commerce craze shows no signs of slowing down.”

The lesson here should be pretty simple. While social commerce might seem to be a new ‘bright shiny object’ the intent is as pure as it gets: Remove barriers between the customer and purchasing. Too often, in order to be on the cutting edge, brands pursue tactics that might be highly visible and noteworthy (like 3D augmented reality mirrors) and attract a lot of press, but might not deliver on the fundamentals.

While there is value in pushing the boundaries of the possible, every brand must be thinking of ways they can make it easier and simpler to connect customers with what they want. Social commerce and its execution in China should be all the evidence brands need to find ways to take what brands are teaching us in one country and apply it in ways that can work globally.

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