Brand Activation Research

Part
01
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Part
01

Case Studies - TikTok

Three examples of beauty and fashion brands that successfully launched on TikTok in China are MAC Cosmetics, Ralph Lauren and Elf Cosmetics.

MAC Cosmetics

  • Canada-based beauty brand MAC Cosmetics has had tremendous success launching its brand and products on TikTok.
  • For example, the cosmetics company first launched its brand on the social media site with a hashtag challenge called #YouOwnIt.
  • Inspired by New York Fashion Week, customers and other TikTok users were prompted to highlight their individuality in videos, including everything from catwalks to makeovers.
  • In parallel, MAC Cosmetics engaged influencers such as @GlitterandLazers and @SethOBrien to respond to the challenge and build engagement.
  • Notably, this single campaign generated MAC Cosmetics 1.5 billion views in six days, and over 2.3 billion views to date.
  • Just as significantly, TikTok users created over 700 pieces of content on the site under #YouOwnIt.
  • Examples of photos and videos from the campaign can be found across media coverage, and images are also available within this Google Document.

Ralph Lauren

  • US-based fashion brand Ralph Lauren has also experienced significant success with its brand and products on TikTok, particularly in contrast to its advertising efforts on other social media channels.
  • Most notably, Ralph Lauren first launched its brand and products through the social media site during the US Open, becoming the first brand to launch a sports-inspired hashtag challenge campaign on TikTok.
  • In particular, the company distributed short videos that featured young actress Diana Silvers and her winning tennis skills.
  • In parallel, Ralph Lauren encouraged the site's users to create similar videos with the tag #WinningRL for a chance at free company products.
  • Since launching, this single campaign on TikTok has earned 700 million views.
  • In contrast, Ralph Lauren's campaigns on social media outlets that are less interactive and have a more adult audience have had much weaker performance (e.g., Ralph Lauren's YouTube video campaign garnered only 8,000 views).
  • Examples of photos and videos from the #WinningRL campaign can be found across media coverage and TikTok, and images are also available within this Google Document.

Elf Cosmetics

  • US-based beauty brand Elf Cosmetics is yet another example of a beauty brand that has had marked success on TikTok.
  • For example, the cosmetics company's recent #EyesLipsFace campaign generated over a million user-created videos, the most ever produced by a TikTok campaign.
  • Moreover, the launch of the beauty brand and its products was so viral that famous actress Reese Witherspoon participated, despite having no commercial links with Elf Cosmetics.
  • To achieve this response, Elf Cosmetics offer respondents to the challenge up to $250 in company products.
  • Elf Cosmetics further engaged TikTok users with the release of what would become a viral Eyes. Lips. Face. music video by Grammy-winning producer iLL Wayno and featuring Holla FyeSixWun.
  • Examples of photos and videos from the campaign can be found across media coverage, and images are also available within this Google Document.
Part
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of five
Part
02

Case Studies - Red

Since launching on Red/XiaohongShu, Perfect Diary, an affordable cosmetics brand, has garnered over 1.69 million followers and continues to use Red to funnel traffic to its profile on Tmall. In a campaign to drive the sales of its probiotics product, Biostime leveraged XiaohongShu to reach over three million users.

Perfect Diary

Company Info

  • Founded in 2015, Perfect Diary is an affordable cosmetics brand based in China.
  • Thanks to its marketing strategies on Red/XiaohongShu, it became "the number one Chinese cosmetics brand on Tmall."

Red/XiaohongShu Insights

Marketing Strategy on Red/XiaohongShu

  • Perfect Diary uses Red/XiaohongShu to drive traffic to its profile on Tmall. This is because many brands see Red/XiaohongShu as a promotion tool to get organic product recommendations; more so, the higher commission on Red (about 20% for some categories) informs brands' decision to drive traffic to other sources such as Tmall.
  • To launch a new product, Daydream, launched on the 7th of August 2019. The product launch was successful because Perfect Diary sold over 24 thousand bottles on Tmall just five days after launching the product, with "most of the traffic is driven from XiaohongShu."
  • To launch the product, Perfect Diary partnered with more than 150 key opinion leaders (KOL/influencers) on the Red platform. However, the chosen KOLs were selected following a pyramid format: "a few top tier KOLs and lots of smaller KOLs."
  • Based on the analysis of the available data, about five of the KOLs had more than 100 thousand followers; four KOLs had between 50-100 thousand followers; 14 KOLs had between 10-50 thousand followers; while about 25 KOLs had less than 10 thousand followers.
  • This pyramid-type selection of KOLs is effective due to the nature of the content distribution algorithm on Red. Typically, the algorithm is optimized for users to see content from people they are not following on their news feed, which means content that do well are not necessarily tied to the number of followers an account has.
  • To put this into perspective, the "second most popular note was posted by a KOL with only 200 followers." Conversely, and comparatively, a KOL account with more than 100 thousand followers had a note with only 173 likes. Screenshots of these posts can be found in the attached document.
  • Another strategy employed by Perfect Diary was to encourage people to "like, comment, bookmark, and post pictures to participate in a lucky draw," which drew more engagement to the new product.
  • Perfect Diary, has with other brands, keeps very few stock-keeping units (SKUs) on Red (21) as opposed to the 91 SKUs it has on Tmall. As explained above, this is because of the high commission on product sales on XiaohongShu.

Other Useful Findings

Colourpop Cosmetics

  • Another cosmetic brand widely-acknowledged to be successful on Red is Colourpop Cosmetics.
  • Gary Shi, the general manager for Red's e-commerce arm notes that the brand launched officially after XianhongShu showed them "how the platform had already generated organic posts in the thousands."
  • Since launching, the brand has garnered more than 105 thousand followers.

Biostime

  • Biostime, a "manufacturer of nutrition products such as probiotics for children and milk powder for babies," wanted to increase sales for its line of probiotics products and to build top-of-the-mind awareness among Chinese mothers.
  • One of the key channels in the campaign was XiaohongShu, with content geared towards product comparison and analysis of the product's efficacy.
  • The content posted on XiaohongShu also leveraged recent hot topics to drive more engagement.
  • Biostime also employed over 50 KOLs during the campaign.
  • Consequently, more than 100 users shared content from Biostime as well as more than three million users reached during the campaign.

Research Strategy

To identify the successful launches on Red/XiaohongShu in China, we started our research by searching through platforms that curates advertising, marketing and campaign case studies such as Effie and WARC. We intended to identify case studies on the Red platform. Using the search tools of these platforms did not yield any viable results. For example, our search on Effie returned only two results and these results were campaigns for the platform itself. While there were many articles listed on the WARC, none provided any case study on the successful launch of a beauty/fashion brand. Even after expanding the scope of the research to other industries, the results were still the same.

Our next approach was to conduct case studies published by marketing agencies and marketing-related publications such as the Drum. Through this approach, we found a detailed case study on the success of Perfect Diary. Although further research yielded additional companies that were deemed successful, there were little to no details on their marketing strategies. For example, we found that Guerlain partnered with Red to launch on the platform and has since gone on to make a million dollars every month from the platform. To cover our bases, we ran these successful companies through the marketing and advertising curator websites such as WeLoveAds and Creative Brief, but still found no further details.

Therefore, the research team was only able to provide a single case study. However, we have provided useful insights into two other brands that have been deemed to be successful on the XiaohongShu platform. Kindly note that screenshots of some of the content posted on the three brands have been added to the attached screenshot.

One of the reasons for few brands launching on Red is because it is a "promotional platform, not a sales platform, and it is typically used it to create user awareness, and let them buy from Tmall or WeChat where platforms charge a smaller commission." Another reason for a lack of case studies on successful launches is that companies already generate organic posts on the platform even without a presence on XiaohongShu. So, launching on the platform is not typically a high-key event per se. Additionally, the nature of the platforms also means that marketing strategies are limited. For example, there are no anonymous reviews allowed on the platform in addition to no one-click rating. More importantly, brands can partner with XianhongShu to sell their product; services include recommending KOLs and helping with logistics.
Part
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of five
Part
03

Case Studies - Wechat

Givenchy, MontBlanc, and SK-II are among brands that successfully launched their product(s) on WeChat. Overviews of the case studies are outlined below.

Givenchy

  • In 2017, Givenchy utilized an influential Chinese influencer, otherwise referred to as Key Opinion Leaders (KOL), to promote limited-edition Givenchy Mini Horizon handbags.
  • Tao Liang, popularly known as Mr. Bags, is a niche handbag blogger who commanded a massive following of over 1.2 million on WeChat at the time of the campaign.
  • Mr. Bags informed his followers of the partnership with Givenchy to promote 80 limited-edition pink handbags through a WeChat article.
  • After the launch, all 80 bags, each priced at 14,900 RMB ($2,170), sold out in 12 minutes bringing in almost 1.2 million RMB ($173,652) in as much time.
  • The Chinese population trusts influencers more than in other countries, and using KOL marketing was key to the success of the campaign.
  • Givenchy managed to emphasize exclusivity by only producing and selling 80 units. Also, buyers were allowed to reserve the bags for only 15 minutes. Notably, eight is the lucky number in China.
  • The product was launched on Valentines Day which made the timing very strategic since the Chinese are known for their gifting habits.
  • The promotional post read: "For Valentine’s this year, this is the right kind of bag to buy for your girl!" This creatively implored men to buy the bags for their wives, girlfriends, or mistresses.
  • Additionally, Mr. Bags provided social proof by reminding his readership of the famous people, such as Michelle Obama, Angelababy, and Amanda Seyfried, who own Givenchy bags.
  • Screenshots of the creatives for the campaign are provided in the attached Google document. There seems to be no videos used for the campaign.

MontBlanc

  • In 2015, MontBlanc's "Mystic Moon Phase Campaign" leveraged Chinese culture to find a unique angle of differentiation for launching its latest products (at the time) on WeChat.
  • MontBlanc knew that the market was saturated with moon phase-style luxury watches and it had to get creative for its new Heritage and Bohème watch collection to stand out.
  • To overcome this issue, the brand connected with the Chinese population's interest in the lunar cycle in a campaign that combined both "moon phase complications and lunar shifts in real-time."
  • Upon scanning a WeChat QR code, consumers entered their date of birth and gender. The feature then automatically generated a "personal moon phase report" that entailed how the individual's birth moon cycle resonated with their hobbies, career, interrelationships, and personality. Consumers could also share their reports with friends on WeChat.
  • WeChat's multidimensional and well-rounded nature, combined with the large user base in China, facilitated the success of the campaign.
  • Additionally, since the lunar cycle is very important in Chinese culture, MontBlanc was able to tap directly into the interests, relevance, and wants of the Chinese audience.
  • According to Luxion, apart from the marketing campaign, MontBlanc provided Chinese consumers an educational and enjoyable digital experience.
  • A screenshot of the creative for the campaign is provided in the attached Google document. There seems to be no videos used for the campaign.

SK-II

  • In 2019, SK-II launched its new "pigtail-adorned beauty line" on WeChat in commemoration of the Year of the Pig in China (2019).
  • Like MontBlanc, SK-II used Chinese culture to create an alluring perspective for their new product. "The Year of the Pig is considered a positive one, generally indicating wealth and fortune for those born in the upcoming 12 months," according to the CNN.
  • The brand offered holiday gift boxes that consumers could send to their loved ones before or during the Chinese New Year.
  • The products were available through "SK-II's WeChat mini-program store," and buyers of the gift boxes received complimentary skin essence and cleanser.
  • SK-II also partnered with JD.com for logistical purposes, which ensured that it could handle the high order volume during the holidays.
  • Additionally, the brand utilized its spokesperson, renowned actress Nini, to promote the launch, with her photos in all related SK-II posters both on WeChat and across China.
  • Screenshot of the creatives for the campaign is provided in the attached Google document. There seems to be no videos used for the campaign.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We managed to find and provide three case studies of beauty/fashion brands that successfully launched on WeChat in China. Some information is older than the Wonder standard of 24 words because data on success metrics is not available for most recent launches. However, this does not affect the credibility of the information provided because it is not time-sensitive. We could not find video examples for all three case studies despite searching on media resources and marketing analytics/review sites. We also leveraged each company's WeChat account and back-dated up to the dates of the launch, but we could not find any videos. Lastly, we leveraged video-sharing platforms such as YouTube. While there were promotional videos related to the featured products, it was not possible to determine whether they were also posted on WeChat, and how much of the traffic was a direct result of their respective WeChat launches.
Part
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of five
Part
04

Case Studies - Weibo

Introduction


Chinese beauty and fashion brands are increasingly using Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo to stand out over Western brands. More specifically, they are reaching consumers via their use of KOLs, or key opinion leaders, the Chinese version of social media influencers, who share products and brand information on platforms like Weibo. Three brands which have successfully utilized Weibo to launch campaigns in China include niche beauty brand Hedone, fashion brand Semir, and skincare brand Pechoin. Further information on each brand's strategy can be found below, and screen shots of images relevant to their campaigns can be found here.


Hedone

  • Chinese beauty brand Hedone offers direct-to-consumer cosmetics, considered to be a Chinese version of Glossier, with sales driven primarily by influencers on Weibo and other social media platforms.
  • Hedone's marketing strategy was to be heavily adopted by microbloggers and influencers on Weibo, in order to promote their cosmetics line, which features mainly eye shadow and lip gloss.
  • They worked with KOLs, selecting those who prioritized quality content that related to the specific needs of cosmetics consumers, such as makeup tutorials, similar product endorsements, or fun beauty trends.
  • Hedone also prioritized using KOLs that had a high level of content engagement, rather than just those who had a large amount of followers, and focused on those who fell in many categories, including beauty, fashion, travel, and food.
  • Their focus was also around KOLs who reflect China cult beauty image, in order to build brand consistency.
  • Their messaging was focused around a theme of being playful with makeup, as well as directing users to their key campaign video, “The Grand Hedone Hotel”.
  • The brand is direct-to-consumer so their presence on Weibo was necessary to build rapport and product awareness with consumers from launch.
  • Hedone is unique in that they actually design their products with future social media posts in mind- product managers begin by looking at existing social media content to create products that would stand out when posted and shared online.

Semir

  • While brand Semir was already established internationally, they launched a Weibo campaign that focused on building awareness and brand reputation in China.
  • The campaign focused on mid-tier KOLs rather than top-tier, in order to best reach their target audience.
  • Their key messaging focused on a "What to Wear Tomorrow" campaign, and collaborated with Chinese fashion styling editor Ting Wu to be the face of the campaign.
  • The target audience of their social media campaign was "trendy, open-minded, and independent young Chinese women".
  • The campaign's main hashtag received 530 million impressions and 119,000 discussions on Weibo.
  • As a result of the campaign's success, Semir also received a great deal of press in Chinese marketing outlets for their targeted use of mid-tier KOLs to reach a niche audience, rather than the standard use of top-tier KOLs and marketing for mass appeal.

Pechoin

  • Pechoin is already well-established skincare brand in China. However, they recently launched a social media campaign to expand their reach to younger consumers.
  • The 88-year-old brand aimed to update its image and therefore become a brand sought by this younger audience, which they did primarily through the use of KOL marketing campaigns.
  • The brand focused on using KOLs on platforms like Weibo for a strategy called “zhongcao”, a popular marketing strategy in China that means "planting the seed of an idea in the minds of customers".
  • The brand focused on collaboration with four KOLs, who shared high-quality content on their experiences of using Pechoin products, such as beauty masks and creams.
  • One post by influencer @C神SEASON received over 1.7 million views and over 1,000 comments.
  • The result of the campaign was that the brand was able to reinvent themselves, and become popular with young consumers.
  • By the end of 2018, in part due to their efforts on Weibo, Pechoin had become the top-selling domestic beauty brand in China, with sales rivaling Western brands.

Research Strategy

In order to find relevant case studies, we focused on searching marketing media sources, focusing on Chinese brands in either the beauty or the fashion space that used Weibo for a brand launch. We examined industry reports, press releases, and advertising journals. We chose to include a variety of brands that represented various types of launches, including an initial product launch with Hedone, a rebranding launch with Pechoin, and the launch of Chinese marketing for brand Semir. Additionally, we supplemented these case studies with images of each campaign/launch, which is included in the attached Google document.


Part
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of five
Part
05

Case Studies - Tmall

Fenty Beauty and Chanel are two beauty or fashion brands that have successfully launched on Tmall in China. Case studies for these two brands are below.

Fenty Beauty

  • In September 2019, Fenty Beauty, founded by singer Rihanna, launched a flagship store on Tmall.
  • More than 210 Fenty products are offered for sale through Tmall, including the "Pro Filt’r" foundation line, the "Diamond Bomb" highlighter, and the "Match Stix" contour and concealer.
  • To mark the launch, Fenty debuted a Tmall Global Super Brand Day promotional campaign on September 20, 2019, which featured "special offers for new members."
  • To coincide with the launch, Fenty named pop star Fan Chengcheng of boy band Nine Percent as the brand's Greater China ambassador. This selection reflected the continued influence of "young male celebrities to market beauty products in China."
  • Fan promoted Fenty's Tmall Global Super Brand Day deals through "banner ads, pop-ups, and social promotions driving to the brand’s store."
  • Additional promotions that featured Naomi Wang Ju, a contestant on a reality show who refused to conform to traditional beauty standards, focused consumer attention on Fenty's mission of inclusivity.
  • There do not appear to be any videos on Fenty Beauty's Tmall launch.
  • Images from the launch and current images of Fenty products on Tmall are here.

Chanel

  • In September 2019, the French luxury house, Chanel, launched an official store on Tmall in its Luxury Pavilion.
  • A pre-sale of Chanel's products began in July 2019, which allowed Chinese consumers access to the company's "full range of cosmetics and fragrance."
  • Chanel also offers Tmall consumers real-time consultations with online beauty advisors and free shipping, both of which are part of the luxury experience on Tmall.
  • Additionally, consumers who register for Chanel's membership program will receive benefits such as "being the first to sample new products and attend exclusive offline events."
  • Within three days of launching the pre-sale, Chanel's Tmall store gained "thousands of followers."
  • The Tmall opening represents Chanel's first official online store (other than its own website) and created "an official alternative to third-party sellers."
  • Chanel also previewed its debut on Tmall with an advertisement on Tmall's app for Chanel's Shanghai Mademoiselle Privé exhibition. A Tmall Club special session was offered to visitors following the exhibition.
  • A link to a video showing how Chanel packages its online orders can be found here.
  • Images from the launch and current images of Chanel products on Tmall are here.
Sources
Sources