Branding Tips to Strive in Chinese E-commerce Environment

Retail is the essence of e-commerce

In the concept of new retail, it’s all about efficiency and lowering the cost of attracting new users is one of the key requirements of e-commerce platforms. Over the past 10 years, the arrival of “smart internet era’ and “Internet 3.0” gave plenty of possibilities for e-commerce sector to boom, and new platforms like Chinese brands 3songshu, Suncha, Chahua and others to operate successfully. Nevertheless, Taobao remains the leading e-commerce Platform in terms of overall traffic and sales, so we take it for the analysis in this article.

Branding in focus

In 2015, Tmall started implementing the “invitation only” policy, putting more emphasis to the products’ story and brand values behind it, assessing whether or not a brand can build a relevant presence on the platform, and what is the outlook for it.

This change was also reflected in the slogan: the “Ideal lifestyle. Shop Tmall” substituted “Tmall is enough”. The sources familiar with the matter have confirmed to us, that Tmall’s overall positioning and development strategy is leaning towards more “global, high-end brand with a strong image and clear/comprehensive promotion plan”.

During this year’s Taobao Merchants Conference, the company’s President Jiang Fan outlined his vision for the platform in three keywords: simple, universal, creative ”. He believes, that in the age of machine intelligence, the new intelligent tools and large data marketing will further liberate businesses, and accordingly bring a huge improvement to the platform business rules at large.

Taobao will be able to focus on its operators and not the traffic, so the business model for merchants will change as well, shifting focus from basic traffic and sales to creating a more relevant brand.

E-commerce content: from consumer goods to enhancing consumers’ sentiment

Content includes advertisement, brand story, brand image, social media monitoring and marketing plan adjustments in according to hot topics. All these efforts aim to tie closer the product with a “positive emotion” or “event”, coupled with operations methods, that’s what content operation is in a nutshell.

That’s why it’s not about selling a sofa, a drink, fresh flowers, or a massage chair, but about attempting to sell pleasure, joy, romance, and comfort.

Even though “e-commerce content” may have appeared recently, but the content operation has been out there the whole time. Take diamonds advertising, for example, savvy diamond producers managed to create a strong link between their product and “real love”, enhancing the product value through a series of marketing campaigns, which became iconic cases of content operation.

The content operation also creates opportunities to stand out for brands with similar product offering, through different storytelling and set up, appealing to different customers. Taobao, for one, has given a plethora of tools for content operators including live streams, short videos, Taobao groups, and communities, providing merchants with incredible opportunity to grow their business. Selling products without appealing to the emotions is, of course, still possible, but it will never be more than just “sales”.Social e-commerce: engagement, shares, and SNS

Social media features and advantages have been infiltrating e-commerce platforms as well. From a brand advertiser point of view, social media features aid the product sales with user-generated content and other methods on e-commerce platforms.

Two key elements of social e-commerce are:

Navigation: help the user to answer “What do I want to buy? Where to buy it?” questions.

Social: nurture interaction between users or user-brand engagement.

Social e-commerce is a part of “Content e-commerce”

Through content, a brand can create a positive feeling/usage scenario for its product, but ‘social e-commerce” can guide the consumption behavior through built-in platform social functions and external social media like Weibo, WeChat, KOL and other SNS channels.

“Social e-commerce” and “Content e-commerce” enhance functions and capabilities of each other. Typically, first, you’ll need to personalize the brand (through content operations), then showcase and promote the distinctive brand though KOL, SNS platforms (social e-commerce/fans interactions etc). This way, with branding, marketing, and e-commerce, your offering is covered on all fronts. 

Enhancing your brand’s e-commerce presence with internet celebrities

What qualities to look for, if you hope to boost sales, inviting an internet celebrity? An effective internet celebrity encompasses different roles: they are an excellent host able to make a good live stream, has impeccable customer service skills, and is an artist to some extent. The problem is, more often than not, they focus too much only on the artistic side, mistakingly thinking that artistic performance for all that it takes.

For a brand to create viral content that will attract more users to their e-commerce platform, it is important to consider taking an extra step in elevating the quality of the visual content: consider script, music production, lightning, overall aesthetics and other factors.

No doubt, that the e-commerce era presents a number of challenges to a brand, but at the same time it also gives a lot of opportunities, unthinkable before.

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