To connect with consumers in China, there’s no escaping WeChat – but to only have an account is as bland as just having a website and brands will not get the engagement they seek.

A new report by Reuter: Intelligence, in partnership with ILTM China, looks at how international brands need to master China’s unique cultural moments and happenings.

According to the report – Connecting with Chinese Luxury Travellers: Elevating Emotion in Digital China – the challenge is not just to be followed, but to stand out from the enormous list of accounts that an individual consumer follows. Having your posts opened, read and enjoyed is what brands need to achieve.

WeChat currently has about 1.132 billion monthly active users, who use the platform to complete tasks such as paying bills, booking tickets, transferring money, and consuming news on the platform. The app also contains more than one million mini-programs to perform these actions, serving 230 million daily active and 600 million monthly active WeChat mini-program users.

“The app’s social CRM capability means that, for a business, it’s the equivalent of a brand’s website, loyalty program, payment gateway, social campaigns and advertising all in one,” the report noted.

The study looked at the big marketing moments over the last few years and found that successful campaigns that went viral had one thing in common: they were emotional, highly culturally relevant and based on solid consumer insight.

These campaigns employed the various functionalities of WeChat but won over consumers thanks to content that tugged on the heart-strings and that was cultivated to reference unique cultural traits.

For example, British Airways’ ‘Flying the Nest’ campaign tapped into family feelings with a video of a Chinese student from Chengdu who goes to college in London. She relates her fears about leaving her family but then her parents pay her a surprise visit. The video ends by promoting a QR code to viewers who can then download a guide in WeChat with travel information, translations, and immigration tips.

The report also broke down the key characteristics of noteworthy campaign content:

• Aspirational: creating moments that let customers imagine their ideal self.

• Experiential: activating consumers with digital content to visiting a property or venue and taking part in something ‘real’.

• Inspirational: work that touches hearts and speaks to the greater good.

• Immersive: offers detailed guidance on deeper brand stories, product explanations, and provides extensive information.

• Engaging: syncs with WeChat’s functionalities to take users through a closed-loop from content to purchase.

“Technological capabilities in China are no longer the ‘trend’, they are the truism,” said Charmaine Lin, GM Client Services, Reuter Communications.

“It’s not so helpful to simply hype up new whizz-bang apps and platforms,” she added. “Rather, the focus should be on how to create the content that will stand out among countless official accounts that are all asking for views, likes, comments and following.”

Sourced from Reuter: Intelligence, Marketing Interactive; additional content by WARC staff