The panel talk organized on September 27th by IFA Paris to better understand the new power of the Chinese social network WeChat confirmed the latest trend in China: WeChat reigns undisputed mastery when it come to new styles of life and digital modes.
“With WeChat, we literally entered into the new era of 'p to p', in the person-to-person network!” tells one of the speakers, Karl Gao, founder of SearchNovo. Launched in China in 2011, the WeChat app is the symbol of a new form of horizontal communication, instantaneous, innovative, powerful, disrupting the digital and advertising industries. “WeChat now has more than 889 million users, 10 million official accounts and 200,000 developers” tells Mia Li, Communication Manager of the digital agency Curiosity China. WeChat integrates its own direct messaging, promotes social dialogue and entertainment. It engages users’ ideas and contents in real time via free multimedia messages, texts and services. The users make video calls and share photos on their “Moments”. “It's interesting to see how WeChat has lowered e-marketing cards: we moved from all e-commerce to all WeChat” said Aurélien Rigart, vice president of IT Consultis.
Always more sophisticated, WeChat also stimulates new habits of consumption - in buying, selling and distribution. And consumer choices have evolved since the platform has expanded its paid services like Weixin/WeChat Pay. For Christophe Tremeaux, Sales Director of Roche Bobois China: “WeChat is essential, it is an incredible, powerful tool, replacing the email in China, but with a limit, because the stake remains to ensure that in the end the customer always goes in store to live not only a commercial, but also a sensory experience.”
Chenyin Pan, China Director of the digital agency Fireworks, believes that “WeChat brings out, through its ubiquity, new physical and human interactions. The advantage of WeChat, explaining its’ success and that so many brands want to be on it, is the exclusivity it ensures, the insurance for brands to touch directly, on a one to one basis, the potential consumer”. WeChat, it is a fact, upsets all the forms of communication, language, promotion and advertising known until now. The go-to system of traditional advertising agencies, associating brands and celebrities is being revised consequently. For Vicki Jiang, Regional Director of Suit Supply Asia, WeChat has become “the essential tool of promotion, marketing and dialogue” with users and consumers. “Especially for small and medium-sized brands, whose approach is more flexible than that of major brands” notes Nicolas Dijols, strategist of social networks at KRDS.
The other advantage of WeChat, adds Xiaoqing Zhang, stylist and creator of the X.Q.ZHANG brand, is the age of its users: par excellence the category interested in trends in fashion and luxury. Users are the most numerous among the 25-50 year olds. “WeChat is not an app heavily used by teens. Teens prefer to use QQ, Momo or the myriad of live-stream and short video apps available in the Chinese market. WeChat is continuing to gain in the middle age and senior age groups that are expected to have higher average disposable income and are more difficult to reach online” says Mia Li. A number of major brands are investing heavily in WeChat, such as Louis Vuitton -paradoxically strongly re-emerging in the world of art and luxury books - Hermès, Furla, Van Cleef and Arples, Hugo Boss... But their interest is sometimes discussed internally - as luxury is also a result of withdrawal and rarity sometimes.
Great brands, in fashion and luxury, in any case revise their strategy accordingly, as by 2020, China will become the world’s largest fashion, luxury and beauty market (with an annual value of almost €47 billion for the beauty sector alone). All major players are active on Chinese social media and first on WeChat, the new go-to network!