It isn’t in any doubt that China is the place to be for luxury brands. How can businesses take the first steps to tapping into this huge market? Thankfully, the opportunity is possible due to China becoming one of, if not the most digitally innovative country in the world.
Here are 8 ways WeChat can work magic — even for a company based outside of China:
1) WeChat Pay
Having WeChat pay in your venues around the world is close to becoming a ‘must’ for just about any business type. Even London’s Camden Market is seeing uptake of WeChat pay. It’s true that Chinese travellers may be able to pay by credit card, but they want to pay by WeChat.
Companies like UK-based Ksher Wikaas can create such WeChat commerce, such as the mini-program that is essentially your ‘shop’, as well as further in-app, web-based or in-store WeChat payments.
Working with the Scottish Whisky Experience, Ksher Wikaas installed proprietary EDC devices (electronic data capture), which allows Chinese visitors to pay for their favourite tipple after enjoying the experience. Another example was working with the prestigious Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, they installed WeChat Pay options onto the tattoo’s website, so that Chinese visitors can purchase tickets online using WeChat Pay.
2) Mini-programs = Your ‘China Website’
E-commerce has become We-Commerce. The simple preference of WeChat pay is just a scratch on the surface of the amazing WeChat world. When they have paid with WeChat, they can be added to your database. It allows you to offer them special promotions, loyalty programs, functionality such as store-finders, they can easily forward all of this to their contacts or ‘Moments’ feed, they can click through to your online store, and more.
As just an example, WeChat KOLs (such as parent KOL Xiaoxiaobao Mama) are making over £5 million in monthly sales via their WeChat mini-program – which is essentially a mini-app within WeChat that is easier and less costly to build than a stand-alone app.
Launched in December, the WeChat Brand Zone was taken up by Longchamp, Tiffany & Co, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Swarovski, Montblanc, Gucci, and Lancôme. The (admittedly 80s-sounding) ‘Brand Zone’ means that a brands’ WeChat account (for content), online store and even CRM are held in the same place. The UX is seamless and brands can customise how they use the options available to them — meaning flexibilty of presentation. Importantly, having everything held within their own WeChat zone means that the consumer can fully trust the authenticity of the product.
Air France’s WeChat account has a customer service chat function on WeChat, with the service replying in Chinese or English, on both weekdays and weekends. This includes services such as choosing seats, baggage needs and cancellations. Even for a brand still mainly ‘outside’ China, having a China-based team for full CRM via WeChat creates the personal touch that Chinese consumers love.
It’s not only the efficiency of WeChat pay being within your main social media and communication app, but the luxury Chinese consumer now expects a fully integrated shopping experience. 54 percent of luxury Chinese shoppers say that an omni-channel shopping experience experience is ‘non-negotiable’ (Source: BCG global consumer insight), which shows where the preference is heading, even on such a new tool.
Via your WeChat account, you can let Chinese customers know where your stores are around the world and more — in ‘Golden Week’ last year (China’s National Holiday in October), Hugo Boss offered special deals at various stores outside China, based on the buzzword of ‘duty free’ (the Chinese translation) and offered special deals when they arrived.
5) Loyalty Programs
IHG, the world’s biggest hospitality group, launched their loyalty program ‘IHG Priority Club’ on WeChat. Members can instantly check their points, booking options and manage existing reservations in the account, as well as enjoy exclusive offers.
Shangri-La Hotels WeChat has a function for price comparisons on all of their hotels, and some hotels (such as Pudong Shangri-La) have a flash sales page for special deals on rooms, F&B, CHI the Spa, and so on.
6) Previews and Pre-booking
Warner Brothers Studio Tour Hollywood now has a WeChat account which gives Chinese visitors guidance as well as live-streams of tours, giving direct access to future visitors.
The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco has an official WeChat account, as well as taking WeChat payments at the museum itself. Once having paid with WeChat, visitors enjoy exclusive benefits such as Chinese audio guide and map.
7) Detailed Guides
WeChat CityExperience has launched, with the tourism boards of Dubai, London and Sydney offering guides on the Mini Program to give Chinese tourists help and guidance in navigating major cities and learning about their cultures and histories from official sources.
British Airways tugged on traditional heart-strings, as they drew on the cultural factor of familial piety with the Flying the Nest Campaign, which centred on a Chinese student receiving a surprise visit from her parents when studying in the UK. It called on the emotions of a golden only-child studying overseas and the need to impress and take care of her parents when they go for a visit. It coupled with a travel guide — available within WeChat and via a QR code — which could guide them on the cultural points of daily UK life.
8) Internet of Things Functionality
At Caesar’s Entertainment’s LINQ Hotel & Casino, guests can use WeChat to control their room functions such as lighting, air-con, curtains, door locks as well as ordering room service.
More Chinese Apps You Need to Know
No Google, no Facebook, no Instagram — you need to be inside China’s digital world; read more about China’s digital landscape here.