Are you already in the cozy Christmas mood or still running around looking for Christmas presents? NMG’s Secret Santa has already arrived - scroll to the bottom to see your China marketing team celebrating; also, learn more about Christmas in China.
This week, read how a greedy goat became an online celebrity, why young people are now willing to pay for content, and how you can use newly rolled out Douyin mini-programs.
Oh, and don’t miss a story on how facial recognition can be epically wasted.
Face payments are the future according to Alibaba who just launched new face payment products. The Chinese giant said over 60% of their Double Eleven transaction were completed with biometric payment methods such as fingerprint and facial recognition. - Read more (Chinese)
For some it sounds innovative- convenient. But many people still don’t trust payment by facial recognition - exemplified by many recent stories discussing technology being unable to tell people apart.
Meanwhile in Jinan (Shandong province), they introduced a facial recognition toilet paper dispenser!
Alibaba’s work management app has become Chinese employees’ worst nightmare. Ding Ding was designed to push the idea of “smart office” - acting as a replacement for calendars, group chats, attendance systems, etc. But as it connects with users’ GPS’s and with its never-ending reminders - Chinese employees say the app strips them of their last bits of privacy.
After the latest update, Chinese netizens complain online that they’ve never been more “nailed” to their job before (the app’s name is literally “a nail”). As tracking them with GPS was not enough, Alibaba announced the app is basically ready to incorporate the entire work experience into their app, covering banking, team management, file storing and more, creating “an ideal office model”. One of the commenters summed it up: “If during a job interview someone mentions Ding Ding - run!” - Read more (Chinese)
For the Chinese, food is the most important part of life - and thanks to e-commerce platforms they can bring international cuisine to their homes. A conclusion we reached last week at NMG’s office was: Chinese people have different hobbies- but they all love eating. Someone even said: “I don’t need to travel, I can order specialties from all over the world on Taobao, how awesome is that?!”
According to Taobao’s Food Map, there’s a growing demand for delicacies coming from other regions- and more often Chinese cities promote their local cuisine via e-commerce platforms. For example: the demand for Chengdu’s rabbit head is 600(!) times bigger now than 10 years ago. - Read more (Chinese)
Live-streaming is no longer just simple-minded entertainment, but mainstream business promotional models. Both Chinese customers and companies are now used to video content (compared to pictures and text content), and live-streaming brings more fun to shopping and gives more opportunities to connect and interact with the audience.
The total sales volume of transaction generated just by Taobao’s official live-stream for 2018’s Double Eleven reached 495 million CNY (72 million USD). - Read more (Chinese)
Luckin Coffee joins food delivery platform Meituan after relying on its own app for months. Just as Starbucks kicked off its deal with Alibaba, Luckin Coffee decided to join Meituan in addition to their own delivery system. It’s a good way to reach more customers they’ve missed so far. It’s also much more convenient for customers to use a food delivery app than downloading a separate app. - Read more (Chinese)
It’s quite an adjustment to their strategy, as earlier this year, the company’s CMO claimed they prefer sticking to their own app in order to maintain more control over their data collection (read our post here). They must have finally understood that what Chinese customers value most is convenience.
Douyin’s freshly launched mini-programs are a great way for brands to promote and sell their products. The main goal is allowing users to take actions in-app- similar to WeChat. When users engage a mini-program added to a video they can take various actions without leaving the app. Booking a ticket or making a purchase is now possible, as the payment can be done via Alipay. Mini-programs can be easily shared with both Douyin and WeChat users.
An interesting way to use mini-programs is called “Shoot, share and get a reward”. How it works? Brands can now encourage customers to shoot short videos in their stores and share them through their mini-program which rewards them discounts or other prizes. The mini-program will be automatically added to the videos, driving traffic to brand’s page. - Read more (Chinese)
All’s fair in love, war and… Chinese social media. Last week we mentioned how “earthy flavours” have become a social trend in China - and here’s proof: the latest viral celebrity from the rural province of Shanxi is a young goatherd and his greedy goat. The goat was supposed to be sold to a slaughterhouse, but as it accidentally attracted lots of attention on Kuaishou, a short-video app, the owner couldn’t miss the chance for online stardom. - Read more (English)
Visual content and recommendations drive Chinese travel decisions - and so Ctrip just added a new platform feature to its main page, allowing its users to share photos, videos, tips, and even their mood! The aim is to build a highly interactive travel community to exchange opinions and recommendations. - Read more (Chinese)
Another bright side of the feature is that Chinese people rely a lot on word of mouth and recommendations as we discovered doing marketing research for a recent project. For various questions we asked the interviewees commonly answered that they chose a hotel and travel agency based on friends’ recommendations. They also put influencers into a reliable source of travel recommendation category.
ACG (Anime, Comic, Games; 二次元) culture becomes an alternative reality with the number of content consumers reaching 360 million people in China. Most were born between 1990 and 2000, and their average yearly spending reached 1,700 CNY (246 USD). Simultaneously, there has been a noticeable growth of the anime mobile game market.
Anime culture is an important part of young people’s everyday life and is already blended into mainstream culture. Sociologists notice generations caught up in the fast pace of work and life tend to search for simple ways to express themselves - clearly marked by the hype around Peppa Pig this year. - Read more (Chinese)
Young Chinese are willing to pay for content as they become ashamed of pirated content on the Internet. Netizens become more aware of intellectual property rights, so they developed a respect for companies who charge for content such as software, videos, and games. It’s especially true of people born after 1995. - Read More (Chinese)
Ofo, a bike-sharing company, gets into 1 billion worth of trouble as 12 million users apply for a deposit refund. It was reported recently that the company had trouble paying its suppliers and uses their deposits to fill in the budget gap. Immediately, users started applying for deposit refunds (99 to 199 CNY each) that should be granted within 15 days. But as the number grew, the payback was delayed, ending up with users queueing in front of the company’s Beijing division with some even pretending to be foreigners - seems like emails in English were handled separately. - Read more in English / Chinese
The company’s been having issues for a few months now, but this time it may be it. Some news reported Didi was preparing to acquire the company, but the question is if after such a PR disaster there’s any point of it.
Down clothing brand sparks a discussion online on heating conditions in China. Bosideng decided to release research results, discussing average temperatures in different provinces in China combined with their own sales data. It attracted a lot of attention on social media as netizens started discussing differences between northern and southern provinces. - Read more (Chinese)
It’s not commonly known outside of China that the country was divided in half sixty years ago, resulting in southern provinces having no heating in winter. Which means that cities such as Nanjing, where temperatures in January hit below zero degrees Celsius have no internal heating - which many people find unreasonable and unfair (high five!).
In China, Christmas is another way for brands to lure customers into their stores, and for shopping malls to display their exclusive Christmas trees. As the holidays are scarcely celebrated, do not expect any magical atmosphere in Chinese cities (check this video) - although I do look forward to Cartier’s tree that takes a central spot in downtown Nanjing. But that’s it. Moreover, every year there is news about Chinese cities cracking down on Christmas decorations etc. This year, I’ve even heard English teaching centres in Nanjing were not allowed to teach about Christmas at all!
Nevertheless, for those of you who celebrate - Merry Christmas! All the best wishes from your China marketing team!
Ps. What’s the big deal with the apples? An apple (苹果 pingguo) is a homonym of ‘peace’ (平 ping). So, presenting someone with an apple around holidays is wishing them a peaceful Christmas.