How WeChat helps fashion brands reach Chinese consumers
Not long ago, brands that wanted a presence in China had to be active on Weibo. But now, WeChat - the country's most popular messaging service - has taken over as the go-to app for consumers to get their fashion fix.
From cool independent labels like Shanghai-based designer Helen Lee to the Guccis, Louis Vuittons and Burberrys of the world, brands are using the app to reach a chunk of its estimated 500 million users.
There is also no shortage of cheaper online stores taking advantage of China's army of social media-savvy users, too. Think about all the new products, campaigns and designs that could be broadcast to personal handheld screens; and then there's the special promotions and flash sales that some brands might not want to publicise in print.
As a recent WeChat adopter myself, the app seems like a simplified cross between WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. You have a "Post Page" for pictures with captions that contacts can "like" (with a heart symbol) and comment on. I've seen Chinese fashion editors conduct whole group meetings with their teams through the voice message channel - especially useful when overseas at fashion weeks and events.
WeChat users even have cash a transfer service at their disposal. The service, linked to your bank account, can settle the bill at restaurants and stores, and transfer funds between contacts - I just paid my rent using it.
No wonder online shopping channels are rushing to the app.
It's not just stores and brands that are conducting business on WeChat. Consider style leaders such as Leaf Greener, a former senior fashion editor at Elle China and a staple in the streetstyle scene. Her social media profile is one of the top in the country, and this year she launched a WeChat style magazine called "LEAF". Her move is considered so forward-thinking among fashionistas, the website Business of Fashion wrote extensively about the launch.
Personal, direct with the potential for powerful influences, we expect to see a lot more brands and individuals offering these kinds of editorial content on WeChat in their bid for to grab a share of that information-hungry crowd of 500 million.