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Bilibili Decoded: The New Chinese Beauty Battlefield to Reach Gen Z

October 20, 2021 Franklin J. Chu
October 20, 2021
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Brands may be more aware about social media platforms Douyin, Kuaishou, and WeChat, but there is still an untapped video platform that beauty brands can leverage: Bilibili–the video platform favored by millions of young, Generation Z Chinese. Founded in 2009, Bilibili began as a niche video platform focused on Japanese anime culture in China. According to Bilibili's financial report, average daily active users (DAUs) reached 62.7 million in Q2 2021, a 24% increase from the same period in 2020. With this platform’s quick market share growth, marketers and brands are paying more attention.

About Bilibili
Bilibili, the Chinese version of YouTube, is one of the most popular social media platforms in China. Bilibili represents a multicultural community with more than 7,000 interest circles. It focuses on anime-related content and video game culture (AGC); the unique "bullet culture" makes it easier for users to have a strong sense of social interaction with others.

According to Bilibili's latest financial report, as of Q2 2021, the number of average monthly active users (MAUs) reached 237.1 million, and average daily active users (DAUs) reached 62.7 million, a 24% increase from the same period in 2020. Young Chinese people are growing increasing loyalty towards the platform—they entertain, learn, communicate, and publish through this emerging longer-video platform.

Why has Bilibili become an important platform for beauty brand marketing?

High-quality Gen Z user base
Generation Z is gradually becoming the main consumer force in the China market—digitally native, social, with increasing income and a bigger appetite for consumption. With brands leaning towards a younger generation of consumers, Bilibili became a great platform to amplify their brand voice and reach out to target customers. Bilibili has 128 million Gen Z users (born after 1995), accounting for over 82% of total active users. Considering the entire Chinese population, this means 50% of young people are using Bilibili.

In addition to being a primary platform for consumer groups, the Bilibili platform has a unique access barrier—during the registration process, users are required to complete a 100-question quiz, with many of the questions related to trending topics or ACG subculture. Users are also required to undergo a training process to learn to properly publish bullet comments. Although such a strict access program limits the scaling up of the overall user volume, it largely guarantees that Bilibili’s registered users recognize the platform’s subculture.

According to Bilibili’s 2021 Q2 financial report, average daily usage on Bilibili amounts to more than 85 minutes, the average daily video play volume reaches 730 million, and the retention rate of official members is more than 80% after one year.

Beauty content ecology is booming
Driven by an original content incentive program launched in 2018, the platform’s diversified content base is gradually taking shape. Five main content pillars—lifestyle, games, entertainment, anime, and tech & knowledge—have replaced the previous ACG-focused content structure. Lifestyle content covering fashion, beauty, and food has since become the most viewed content types on Bilibili.

In recent years, Bilibili.com is developing into one of the most popular beauty marketing platforms by featuring vloggers' makeup tutorials, cosmetics testing, unboxing videos, daily makeup tips, popular makeup copies, and more. As of June this year, the number of brands on Bilibili has increased by 2,050% year-on-year. In terms of GMV (gross merchandise transaction), the beauty category presented the strongest capability to drive from content to sales, compared with other type of content in Bilibili. An increasing number of beauty brands are now developing a strategy for Bilibili to capture the attention of Generation Z consumers.

Ideal platform for campaign promotion
Major beauty brands including Dior, Shiseido, and Lancôme are already serving their campaigns on this platform. Shiseido rolled out an online launch event in May 2020 that racked up 1.34 million engagements and has continued hosting livestreams featuring Gen Z influencers and celebrities since then.

Estée Lauder and Bilibili collaborated on a “Million Graduation Makeup Campaign” to raise brand awareness and popularity. The number of views on this topic reached 12.64MM, with 250K of discussion, and continued to dominate the topic list for 14 days.

Collaboration opportunities for beauty brands

E-commerce integration
In July 2020, Bilibili launched Sparkle, a platform to match KOLs with brands. At the same time, Bilibili has also enabled access to major e-commerce platforms, including Tmall, JD, Pinduoduo, and many other marketplaces. This is viewed as an attempt to capitalize on the e-commerce boom, as brands will more likely invest in the channel if they see a clear customer journey that prompts users to land at the e-commerce shop to complete the purchase.

Unlike other short videos, high-quality mid-to-long content on Bilibili is more useful at brand building, as the audience will spend more time to research a specific brand, while short video only has 15-30 seconds to highlight the selling points. Longer video also has better long-term value. According to Ebrun’s analysis, once a video is posted on Bilibili, this video platform’s natural features yield very desirable long-tail effects for content creators. For specific, the traffic acquired by video is constantly increasing, with building a long-lasting brand awareness. Content sponsors will be expecting the overall ROAS to increase as time goes by.

For brands or products that need time and effort to educate customers, the long video format on Bilibili can better influence users’ purchasing decisions. Video content also helps bring sustained brand exposure and helps drive search traffic to e-commerce stores.

Brand official account
Brands can also start their own official accounts to create original content on Bilibili. Leveraging display video ads and campaign hashtags, brands can showcase promotional materials and even link to external e-commerce platforms, converting to sales or a social media account follower.

Brands with official accounts on Bilibili include Dior, Perfect Diary, and more. From June 2020 to June 2021, the number of beauty brands with an official Bilibili presence saw a 20-fold increase, topping the list of official account categories.

Dior participated in the "Double Eleven Museum of Good Things" campaign, jointly launched by Bilibili and Alibaba's Tmall leading up to the "Double Eleven" shopping festival. Over two weeks, 37,000 videos were submitted under this campaign theme, amassing over 100 million views. Dior specifically released a video of a "Double Eleven" limited-edition handbag, which received nearly 400,000 views.

Marketing with KOLs
Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) are basically China’s version of influencers. There are a huge number of Gen Zers and live streamers who make a living in this ecosystem. Cooperating with these types of influencers will help brands reach their target audience more precisely and efficiently.

Different from other social media platform KOL marketing, content and creativity is a core competency of Bilibili creators. “雁鸿Aimee” is a Bilibili creator in the fashion and beauty area, with 709,000 followers. She collaborated with Florasis cosmetics and spent two months to create a handmade Miao (an ethnic minority in China) headpiece to promote this Miao Impression. By working with creative Bilibili influencers such as Aimee, Florasis was able to present a young and interesting brand image for Generation Z consumers.

According to Huoshaoyun data, in the past year, Bilibili beauty has added 4,690 KOLs. The number of fans KOLs in the beauty area reached 130 million +, and the volume of video playback increased by three times. It can be seen that the development of the beauty area at Bilibili is booming, and the number of creators and users is constantly expanding, which allows many brands to see the dividends of the beauty area.

Bilibili ads
Like every social media platform, brands can also purchase display ads in the newsfeeds of Bilibili users. Brand and product info can show up in a natural and friendly way to get users’ attention, and to maximize the rate of reach in different interest communities.

Bilibili offers a variety of display ad formats including app open ads, large video or still-picture ads on the home page, feed ads that show up on the home page, or video ads that appear in the list of recommended videos.

Platform festivals
Bilibili has platform festivals every year, such as its Creativity Festival, New Product Day (B站新品日), and offline exhibitions and events that brands are invited to participate in. Brands can take advantage of them as an opportunity to engage their target audience, increase brand awareness, highlight new products, and boost sales.

Key takeaways

  • Young audiences are Bilibili’s biggest asset, and brands must understand the platform's subculture to communicate effectively with users.
  • Longer videos are more helpful for brand seeding and user education, especially the long tail effect of traffic.
  • After connecting with e-commerce platforms, Bilibili is gradually becoming a key marketing channel for brands in the Chinese market. Brands need to strategically build their own marketing methods to cover this emerging channel.
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