Western brands get a feel for Chinese customers’ needs on WeChat

August 14, 2013 5:32 pm

Western brands get a feel for Chinese customers’ needs on WeChat

By Sarah Mishkin in Hong Kong

It is not just Durex, owned by Reckitt Benckiser, that found WeChat’s one-to-one messaging and other features useful for reaching potential Chinese customers. Starbucks, one of the first US brands to run a campaign on WeChat, asked its followers there to tell the company what mood they were in by messaging them an emoticon. In response, the company would send them an audio track of a song that matched their mood. Asking users about their feelings made the company itself seem welcoming, said Joseph Tang, digital business director with ad agency Grey in Shanghai.As coffee itself is difficult to sell digitally, “they use the soft approach to make themselves your friend”, Mr Tang said.

One vodka company used the app to invite followers to an event it was holding in Shanghai. Bringing the invitation message on their smartphone to the event got them a special VIP card.

Rand Han, head of the agency Resonance China that arranged the event, said the group also often uses the Twitter-like microblog Weibo but sending a message for an event that pops up on someone’s phone, compared with posting it on a website that also collates general news, is more personal.

“There’s a slightly different spin,” he said.

Other companies have found that using WeChat can make it easier to track ads’ effectiveness because each WeChat account links to just one person’s phone number, said Giulia Callegari, who works on luxury advertising with the agency Ogilvy in Asia

Advertisers in China, like in the US and Europe, cantrack users’ behaviour online and are starting to develop ways to check whether their online followers make offline purchases. But, said Ms Callegari, tracking customer data online in China is still a bit trickier than in other markets.

“A lot of luxury and beauty brands are starting to use WeChat because it’s one to one, it’s social, and you have the person’s number so hopefully you can match it to [other customer] data,” she said.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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