Building loyalty in China: Examples from Vancl, Nike and adidas

Low Lai Chow

Brands seeking to build loyalty and advocacy typically talk about forging genuine bonds with consumers – but in China at least, the reality is often quite different.

"What we have right now is a coexistence of two very fundamental models of loyalty – and that is top-down and bottom-up models," Tom Doctoroff, chief executive for Asia Pacific at agency network JWT, told delegates at AdAsia 2013.

"At its worst, the top-down model is like propaganda," he asserted. As such, this approach typically makes claims such as "We are the greatest in China", but fails to foster real connections with consumers. "It knocks you senseless. It doesn't touch the heart," Doctoroff said.

"The bottom-up model, on the other hand, is a street movement. It's something that sweeps like waves across the city," he continued. While this technique is inherently unpredictable, it also has the power to deliver powerful results: Doctoroff quoted figures showing that 92% of Chinese web users will only buy a product if it has been recommended by an opinion leader or blogger.