HONG KONG/NEW YORK: Western luxury and fashion brands seeking to extend their reach in China must make their presence felt on Chinese social media platforms if they are to find success, according to a specialist industry insights firm.

Fashionbi recently released its latest Chinese social media trends report with the assertion that, compared to the West, social media is one of the key marketing channels for fashion brands in generating the most ROI in China.

Many marketers are aware that WeChat and Weibo are hugely popular in China with 938m and 340m active monthly users respectively – but there are others, such as Qzone, Douban and Meipai. Even so, WeChat and Weibo are the most effective for global fashion brands, the report said.

Jing Daily, a New-York based digital publisher that concentrates on the Chinese luxury market, explored the findings and also spoke with Yana Bushmeleva, Fashionbi’s Chief Operating Officer, who is based in Milan.

“Asia and China, in particular, represent high interest for the fashion and luxury brands and we know that the customers there are even more empowered by technology and the key cities have very advanced digital citizens compared to the United States or Europe,” she said.

“If the brand wants to sell the collections to the locals or to the tourists during the abroad trips, the brand should not only spread the message about these collections but also serve the customers,” she added. “The social networks in Asia are more advanced and are used not only for ‘reading’ and ‘searching’ but also for ‘paying’.”

As a result, Western brands are strongly advised to establish WeChat payment facilities at their brick-and-mortar stores, especially as Weibo does not currently enable mobile payments on its platform.

Brands are also advised to make use of WeChat’s mini apps, which have geolocation capabilities allowing the platform to push tailored products specific to the location.

Also effective are WeChat Moment ads, which are similar to the sponsored posts on Facebook and Instagram, which guide users to a brand’s official site or a specific promoted page.

However, another option is to make use of China’s network of key opinion leaders, who have a massive number of followers. Importantly, they tend to be particularly active on Weibo rather than WeChat.

In a final piece of advice, Fashionbi’s Bushmeleva said: “Since the number of users and accounts on the Chinese networks is very high, the competition for the people’s attention is strong.

“Being present on Asian social networks doesn’t mean translate Facebook posts from English to Mandarin, but having a proper content strategy and work with the local audience and influencers.”

Sourced from Jing Daily, Fashionbi; additional content by WARC staff