5 Disruptive Statements from China Connect Shanghai 2018

Sometimes the hyperbole is justified. While headline statements can be guilty of lazily inserting top-shelf buzz such as game-changer, disruptor or next-gen for their tabloid effect, the talks at China Connect warrant the provocative wordage.

An event with talks that were both interesting and presented with aplomb, China Connect Shanghai 2018 brought together experts from a broad variety of fields. Here are some of the more eye-catching statements from the day.

WeLife is in trial mode

Sophia Ong, GM Strategic Partner & Key Account of Tencent, gave a captivating talk about WeChat – not just that brands must use it, but how best to make use of WeChat’s awe-inspiring functionality.

WeLife is on the way to becoming retail reality. Recently trialled by Max Factor with an automated store,  shoppers could scan the product themselves and pay on WeChat, or pay by facial scan.

The feeling that this was found to give was in fact ‘leaving without paying’ – with no set transaction moment, so that when the shopper left the store, they felt as if they were indeed leaving, rather than ‘paying and leaving’. For brands, the functionality is mind-blowing:

Heatmaps show where shoppers walked, spent more or less time at, and further technology even showed how they interacted with products. Maybe they picked the product up, looked at it and didn’t buy it – giving vital information as to the reasons why they chose not to purchase or interact with it further. AI even read facial expressions to gauge the feelings of the shopper during each product interaction.

Blockchain is set to impact luxury and fashion industries around the world

Alvin Foo, Managing Director, Reprise China: “Blockchain will drive the luxury industry towards a future in which attributes such as traceability and authenticity will be profoundly promoted. By linking digital certificates to purchased goods, buyers of luxury can buy with greater level of confidence regardless of whether they are purchasing from online or second hand retailers.”

Aidaa Wong, Co-Founder & CEO, Luxsens commented:

“Over $3 trillion worth of personal luxury goods sold in the last twenty years are sitting in people’s closets, and over $460 billion worth of counterfeits have been sold over the past years. In the current secondary luxury goods market, buyers are unable to tell whether the goods they are purchasing are authentic or not. Blockchain technology makes product information available on demand for both sellers and buyers via Digital Assets, each luxury product’s information and history are recorded and can be viewed by anyone in the network, sellers and buyers can view proof of how a product has been authenticated with details records.”

Quotes sourced from Reprise China

Chinese Millennials are more knowledgable about luxury than their western counterparts

Yvonne Wang, President Hearst Media China, spoke about luxury and Millennials. She began by explaining that the balance has now shifted in terms of affluent Chinese being so into their luxury lifestyles that their understanding of brands, products, collections and even the industry in general has exceeded that of those elsewhere.

It means that luxury brands need to realise that the affluent Chinese consumer, traveller, shopper, follower – whatever the definition – travels globally, shops extensively and has seen brands’ products, marketing and even pricing around the world. This means that a luxury brand need to ensure that the most cutting edge, next level and culturally-specific marketing (and sales, operations…) is being done in China with the highest importance and care.

Chinese Millennials have turned ‘think feel do’ into ‘feel do think’

Joanna Lu, VP Marketing Greater China & Korea at The Coca Cola Company gave an inspiring talk about stories, tales and thought processes, relevant to ‘the age of more’. The age of more means that people have more choices of more products, from more brands. How can you break-through the growth of more and engage with each person?

One key point mentioned was not a new one, but an ancient human tradition – storytelling. From Coca Cola’s aspect, they are blessed with one famous story; the secret recipe – a story that is known not just by ‘customers’, but by generations.

What does a story do? Joanna presented six key functions:

  • building belief
  • preserving knowledge
  • creating memory
  • unleashing imagination
  • delivering inspiration
  • creating possibility

The evolution of the story, relevant to how a brand can connect a story to today’s generation, is that story telling needs to become ‘story doing’

  • From story telling to story doing:
  • Mass becomes personalised
  • Passive becomes participation
  • Awareness becomes experiences
  • Consumers become advocates

‘Doing’ means that you are not simply saying ‘this is how it is’, but ‘this is how you relate (or interact) with this story’.

Coca Cola has seen that today’s young consumers engage with stories which prompt their emotion, and that emotion is the defining factor in their behaviour. This, coupled with the instantaneous nature of present-day technology means that the previous process of ‘think feel do’ is now ‘feel do think’.

Another exciting insight from Joanna was that brands should remove the word ‘consumers’ from their internal communications, replacing it with the words family, friends and followers. This will help to angle the correct perspective on how to engage, not with the ‘consumer’ but with real people who are part of your brand.

All brands must look to short videos in order to not fade into the background

Also relevant to the need for emotional connection, the evolution of marketing has landed firmly on video. As words became images which have become videos, discounts and price-based marketing developed into design-led thinking, and now, the emotional connection is everything to prompt the desired outcomes – interest and loyalty.

Video platforms allow the user to access diverse content and become a part of specific communities. On Meipai, you can find interest groups and communities according to habits, hobbies and likes. Search for ‘pen acrobatics’ and find an entire group of people posting videos of their prowess in flicking a pen around their fingers. Whatever you’re into, you can find like-minded video-makers to interact with and even compete against – in this case ‘pen acrobatics battles’. Anything can be gamified.

While luxury brands may not need to have a fixed presence on video platforms themselves, the functionality or rather opportunity that short videos gives is clear – presenting the personality of the brand, promoting a fun, personable image and unlocking sharability and social buzz.

Importantly, all categories of app are now integrating short videos such as Taobao and even food-app giant, Dianping. It’s a strong emotional touchpoint of the brand – something which is becoming vital in order to not face into the background among so many competitors in China.

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