25 JUN. 2012

Digital in China: Nestle, Alipay, Sina Weibo

Nestle promotes its new BenNaNa (笨NaNa) ice cream online
The BenNaNa ice cream is an unusual food: it tastes like a banana and is supposed to be peeled like one too. To support this original product Nestle has rolled out an innovative digital campaign.

The campaign is based on a QZone microsite that allows netizens, especially the younger ones, to explore the BenNaNa universe, get entertaining, interactive content and unlock perks such as virtual badges. On a dedicated section, visitors are encouraged to upload pictures of them and their BenNaNa ice cream. This UGC strategy is also used on the brand’s Weibo page.

BenNaNa provides us with an interesting example of how to use digital to reach young customers and sheds light on QZone, a social platform seldom discussed, especially in western media, but that is heavily used by mass-market brands.


Alipay launches new mobile payment application

With e-commerce and mobile payments on the rise, it appears that 2012 will be the year that will make mobile rhyme with serious money. Just this week Alipay released a new mobile application that makes mobile payments even easier: Alipay account holders can transfer money just by entering the receiver’s phone number. If the receiver’s phone number is linked to an Alipay account the money will be transferred instantly, if not the receiver can simply send an SMS with his bank account number and get the money within a few hours.

The potential of such a tool is evident in a country where e-commerce is dominated by C2C and where cash is still king in many transactions.


Sina Weibo introduces new premium accounts

In its drive to monetize its Weibo platform, Sina just launched a new type of premium accounts. The accounts are priced at 10RMB per month and offer perks such as a more customizable profile page, enhanced account security, better mobile access via SMS, VIP badges and the possibility to follow more people. Initial reception is lukewarm to say the least with 90% of respondents of a recent poll saying that they are not interested in these new accounts.

This move by Sina and the skepticism with which it is being received raises further doubts about the company’s capacity to find innovative avenues for monetization. It also shows that more sophisticated Chinese netizens (ie: the Sina Weibo crowd) may no longer be willing to buy online status, instead preferring to develop it through quality interactions and content.


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