The coronavirus crisis has left China’s shopping malls empty, and brands and retailers are now scrambling to find a way to salvage their businesses. Doubling down on digitalization is one strategy that many companies are taking, and in China’s e-commerce world there are many tools at hand. We take a look at what brands such as YSL Beauty and Estée Lauder are doing, and how US beauty brands and retailers can learn from them.
YSL Beauty Launches Social Commerce Campaign on WeChat
For Valentine’s Day, YSL Beauty launched a WeChat campaign for its new perfume line, LIBRE. WeChat is China’s most popular and pervasive social media platform, which has attracted more than one billion users. The campaign focused on driving customers to its WeChat mini-program store; mini-programs are commonly used by luxury brands to launch new product lines and limited-edition sets.
The seven-day campaign was a social commerce play—users who could convince five friends to buy a bottle of perfume were entitled to a free, customized bracelet.
Each purchase would be marked on the mini-program with a virtual YSL Beauty stamp, similar to those of a rewards punch card. In total, 800 customers were eligible to receive the limited-edition bracelet before the supply ran out.
YSL’s landing page for its LIBRE perfume campaign.
Source: YSL Official WeChat Mini-Program Screenshot
Such social commerce tactics are commonplace in China, where the ROI on social media ads are comparatively low by Western standards. Encouraging current customers to pull in friends is a way to reduce customer acquisition costs.
Getting five other friends to buy a 790 RMB ($112 US) 30mL bottle of perfume is a challenge for any customer, but if just one or two consumers manage to do it, then YSL Beauty can save money on customer acquisition costs.
YSL Beauty Dives into Livestreaming
On February 24, YSL Beauty also launched a Taobao livestreaming session with Viya, China’s top livestreaming influencer, to promote the LIBRE perfume line. Taobao is an e-commerce site owned by Alibaba.
During a livestreaming session, popular hosts and influencers present and discuss products in real time with viewers. Viewers can message the host with questions, including asking them for more details on the product and how it feels in real life.
Those who decide to make a purchase can then pay with mobile payment platform Alipay, which seamlessly links to the Taobao platform. The process streamlines the connection between content and commerce, leading to higher conversion rates.
For this particular livestreaming campaign, YSL Beauty offered a “SecKill” discount on its LIBRE perfume product, offering a steep discount on the product for a limited time only. Typically, a countdown timer is displayed to show how much longer the campaign will run; this incentivizes viewers to make purchases on the spot.
Viya shows off YSL’s new perfume product and choker.
Source: Official Taobao App Screenshot
As part of the promotion, customers were also eligible to receive a limited-edition YSL choker, lipstick, or a makeup bag. After just one minute, the 50mL version sold out, and after five minutes the 30mL version sold out. Those results prove the marketing power of livestreaming in China.
Such results are not uncommon in China’s livestreaming commerce world. The popular livestreamer Viya also worked with Kim Kardashian’s KKW Beauty to sell out 15,000 bottles during Singles Day 2019.
Estée Lauder Executes Multi-Channel Digital Marketing Campaign
Estée Lauder also sought to fight off falling retail sales by doubling down on social media and e-commerce. Celebrity spokespeople Yang Mi, Li Xian, and others published voice messages on both WeChat and Weibo accounts, encouraging people to stand together against the coronavirus. Weibo is another major social media platform that’s popular in China.
Estee Lauder celebrity spokespeople pledging support for the fight against the coronavirus.
Source: Estée Lauder Official Weibo Account Screenshot
The WeChat landing page reached over 100,000 views and 3,000 likes. The Weibo hashtag “we can win this fight” and associated posts drew over 50 million views and 300,000 comments. Estée Lauder also started pre-sales for its Women’s Day campaign, which starts on March 8. Some stores in Shenzhen used “private traffic,” in which employees set up private VIP WeChat groups to sell products and dispense makeup advice.
In the snapshot below, an Estée Lauder store in the southeastern city of Xiamen is offering a gift set promotion for those who join its WeChat group.
A Weibo post encouraging users to join an Estée Lauder store’s private WeChat group.
Source: Official Weibo App Screenshot
Private WeChat groups have become commonplace as China’s fragmented retail industry seeks better ways to interact with its customers. This is partly because WeChat ads are less targeted and e-mail marketing is less commonly used in China.
In total, WeChat groups are allowed to have up to 500 people, and there are often multiple employees that rotate to monitor these groups and keep them entertained.
- Shopping malls in China remain empty as the coronavirus continues to keep consumers at home. To counteract slowing retail sales, brands and retailers are doubling down on digitalization to reach their customers.
- YSL launched a livestreaming campaign on Taobao and used social commerce tactics on WeChat to launch its new perfume line, LIBRA.
- Estée Lauder used its celebrity spokespeople to deliver voice messages of encouragement on WeChat and Weibo social media to comfort consumers amid coronavirus concerns. Some offline stores are also encouraging customers to join private WeChat groups to maintain customer relationships.