27 DEC. 2012

Digital in China: Haier, Xiaomi, Top Weibo trending topics

Haier uses digital to enter challenging market: baby products

This month, Chinese brand Haier showed what can be achieved when digital know-how meets long-term strategic vision with its new platform specifically designed for post-80s moms.

Haier, one the world leaders in home appliances and one of China’s few success stories when it comes to global brand building, is setting its sight on a new market: baby-care products. For brands, this market is both a goldmine and a mine field: on the one hand, Chinese parents are notorious for sparing no expense to ensure the happiness and safety of their (most often only) offspring, promising healthy margins to the companies who can seduce them. However, gaining their trust is a tremendously complicated exercise and any faux-pas in this sensitive market can result in irreversible damage to the brand image.

For modern Chinese moms, the internet has become a key part of the process of preparing for the child’s birth and raising him during his first years. The web allows these moms to share their experiences, exchange tips and find the necessary information that they need during this important part of their lives. So in order to build its reputation with the crowd of new moms and soon to be moms of the post 80s generation; Haier has launched an ambitious campaign, the cornerstone of which is the “Moms’ knowledge” social web platform.

In effect, this platform constitutes an independent service that the brand provides to support its appliances business. On this “Moms’ knowledge” platform, moms can find all types of quality content regarding nutrition and childcare along with general lifestyle advice. They can also receive regularly updated content from childcare experts and chat with them one on one. Content can be filtered according to the child’s age (or the pregnancy stage) so that each user receives content specifically suited to her situation. The platform also contains an e-commerce section on which features Haier products can be purchased.

Through this online tool, Haier build its brand equity not through mere communication by leveraging digital channels to adapt to changing customer behavior and provide genuinely useful services that offer real value to customers.

Xiaomi to use Sina Weibo as a sales channel

The greater integration of e-commerce and social media is one of the key digital trends that we have identified for the year 2012. E-commerce websites already account for the vast majority of downstream traffic from social media sites and the rise of platforms such as Meilishuo 美丽说 or Mogujie 蘑菇街 shows how social has become a key part of the online journey to purchase.

Last week, Chinese cellphone maker Xiaomi went one step further by announcing that it would be selling 50.000 of its hugely popular Mi2 smartphones directly via its Sina Weibo page during a special operation that will end on December 21st. Potential customers could visit the special event page on Xiaomi’s Weibo page to try and place an order. All orders must be placed by sending a “Weibo”, thus giving the brand more exposure.

Ordering and payment can be done entirely through Sina Weibo without the user having to leave the site at any moment. This is consistent with Sina’s recent upgrading of its payments platform and plans to monetize its platform by venturing into the highly competitive but potentially lucrative field of e-commerce.

The future will tell whether this operation stays an isolated example or announces greater things to come. But if Sina manages to link its 400 million registered users and 130,000 brands through competitive, scalable e-commerce solutions, this could represent a major step forward in its development and would open up new possibilities for brands.

Note: After two days of promotion, Xiaomi has released that it generated 1.3 million reservations for its allotted 50,000 Xiaomi Mi2 phones in five minutes and 14 seconds.

Top Weibo trending topics for 2012

It’s that time of the year again when people start making lists (and we are no exception, look out for our “this year in digital” review of 2012 digital trends). In keeping with the spirit of the season, Sina Weibo has recently release its list of most important trending topics for 2012. The list provides a nice snapshot of what mattered during this past year.

By far the most discussed topic was the London Olympics with nearly 400 mentions. As we already mentioned in our earlier articles, China was the most active nation in discussing the Olympics on social media and many brands such as Nike or dating site Jia Yuan have surfed the wave with special communication messages. Second on the list is the concept of “Diaosi” 屌丝 which roughly translates as “looser” and represents popular rebellion against the unattainable ideals of manhood (whereby men should be good looking, smart and most importantly own a car and a house) promoted by mainstream culture. The “Diaosi” trend is extremely meaningful since it shows the gradual rise of a counter-culture in China.

Further down the list we find the inevitable Gangnam Style, TV show “The voice of China” (which was parodied by Kleenex through a humorous web video), the Diaoyu / Senkaku feud between China and Japan the “aircraft carrier style” meme.

2012 was an eventful year on Weibo. In the future brand should keep a close eye on the topics that are most discussed on the platform in order to stay in tune with popular debate and boost their local relevancy.

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