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10 NOV. 2017

Brand Building on Singles’ Day: From Passive Participation to Active Interaction

Henry He and Sharon Shen

Corporate Branding Team

We are no stranger to the upcoming Singles’ Day. This joked-about ‘singles’ festival’ in China has evolved from a gimmick of just some Taobao stores a few years ago, to the biggest Shopping Festival in China and even the world. The general turnover of Tmall on Singles’ Day rose from 36.2 billion RMB (around 5.5 billion USD) in 2013 to 120.7 billion RMB (around 18 billion USD) in 2016, covering 235 countries and regions. The aggregate effect of platform brands and high revenues are prompting more and more brands to join in this extravaganza. According to the statistics, Tmall alone has engaged more than 140 thousand global brands this year.

However, with the fierce competitions ahead, it’s far from good enough for the brands to just stick the discount labels on their products and participate passively, like a drift in the currents. The rules of Singles’ Day are getting more and more complex, and are wearing out consumers’ patience. How should brands enhance their shopping experience and brand equity in order to take full advantage of the e-commerce platforms, instead of becoming the accessories of the ‘war of platforms’?

In this article, we will discuss 3 ways for brands to participate in this year's Singles’ Day, showing the efforts some brands make to go on the offensive, by driving engagement with their customers.

Join in Singles Day Through Various Social Media Channels

It’s the 9th anniversary of the Singles’ Day, Tmall no longer takes the whole stage. E-commerce platforms such as JD.com, Suning and brands’ official e-commerce sites (HUAWEI, H&M, etc.) all want to a share. Meanwhile, the exposure brands get from the e-commerce platforms is very limited, causing more and more brands to extend to social media to create buzz for their Singles’ Day campaign, seeking to increase brand influence and attract more customers to their Tmall/ e-commerce page.

HUAWEI invites users on Weibo to share jokes and stories in their life to win gifts. The campaign was accompanied with visuals promoting the Singles’ Day event on Vmall, Huawei’s e-commerce site, building brand awareness while interacting with its fans.

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HUAWEI’s campaign visuals on Weibo

This week, L’Oréal posted a fun analysis of Chinese women's consumption on makeup, covering aspects from horoscope, region to purchasing habit. Beyond using data to reveal the beauty secrets of Chinese ladies, the campaign gives them a final push to spend more. At the end of this post is, of course, a link to L’Oréal’s Tmall store. With strong contrasts, shiny products and dramatic figures, trust me, this Weibo post is as eye-catching as it can get.

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L’Oréal’s campaign visuals on Weibo

As we can see, those brands that simply ‘push out’ information on social platforms without truly ‘pulling in’ the consumers would receive little response in return. Skincare brand Sulwhasoo introduced their discounts for Singles’ Day on Weibo, but only received a handful of comments and likes. Compared to the buzz Huawei and L’Oréal were able to create, the importance of consumer interaction is evident.

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In short, it has been recognized by many brands the importance of actively reaching out to the consumers and leveraging social platforms to offer a better interactive experience, rather than simply competing on prices.

Start Your Campaign Early to Establish Brand Awareness

As early as in October, the battle of Singles’ Day has begun. Countless brands started to gear up, and compete with each other on the same platform. The question is, how to stand out in their category by enhancing brand differentiation and relevance?

Many brands carried out their own branded campaigns on e-commerce platforms before November 11, to establish brand awareness one step ahead. For example, Logitech and Dell each had their own exclusive ‘brand day’ on JD.com one week before the actual Singles’ Day, occupying the cover of the whole digital products category. Both brands launched a variety of promotional activities. For example, Logitech borrowed from the hot game Playerunknown's Battlegrounds by emphasizing the game in the description of its gaming gears, thereby enhancing its brand relevance. This simple move, plus some early discounts, helped the brand to establish connection with its consumers and consolidated its leadership.

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Dell took one step further to have a branded ‘golden weekend’ from November 4-5. Under the trend of DIY computers, Dell wanted to showcase its strength in product quality and expertise as a leading brand. Although there may not be many actual benefits for those who have long been following this category, such a brand campaign was still a huge boost for brand awareness to the wider consumer base.

Leverage Platform’s Traffic to Enhance Brand Influence

At each Singles’ Day, Tmall always spares great effort to produce all kinds of sales rankings. For those popular brands, it is a good opportunity to maintain leadership and exposure by trying to occupy the front rows of the list.

Premium technology and electronics brand Dyson has always enjoyed good sales record on Tmall. This year, it has long occupied the headline of Tmall’s Singles’ Day page. Surely, Dyson did not miss the opportunity to highlight its simplistic and high-tech product design. Endorsed directly by founder James Dyson, the brand conveyed a sense of smartness and culture, contrast to the more traditional communication approaches in its category, thus increasing brand differentiation.

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Another brand that enjoyed high exposure is suitcase brand 90fun, a subsidiary of Xiaomi. As a newcomer to this category, Singles’ Day is a key time for 90fun to enhance its brand influence. The slogan “Future, let’s go!” on the front page of its Tmall store is simple and concise; the modern visual language embodies its brand philosophy of “easy travelling” and appeals to its young target audience. There is no doubt that 90fun is hoping to build an emotional connection with its consumers.

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Conclusion

We are seeing brands from different industries, no matter big or small, have been trying to transform from passive participants into active communicators. Indeed, the rules and gimmicks are becoming more and more dazzling and frustrating; the game between platforms and brands is also becoming more evident. E-commerce platforms want to propagate their own brand with the aggregated traffic, while brands intend to get ahead by increasing interactions with the consumers. What will be the result? All eyes to this year’s Singles’ Day!

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