What brands can learn from GAP ‘s crisis in China

Boycott of GAP started to trend on Chinese social media network Weibo after the company was found selling a T-shirt with an incorrect map of China.

On May 14th, a post on Chinese social media network Weibo by @Tangfener with pictures of a GAP T-shirt caused huge discussion as a Chinese map on the T-shirt was found “incorrect” with some Chinese-claimed territories, including south Tibet and the island of Taiwan being omitted. The user said the photo was taken at an outlet store in Canada and satirized the brand, saying that GAP would have big trouble if the T-shirt was released in Chinese market.

The crisis seemed to be get further out of control despite the T-shirt not being released in China.  The post with the GAP T-shirt spread quickly on Weibo and thousands of Chinese netizens posted their outrage.

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@Qiushanzhu “For all foreign brands who want to explore the Chinese market: Don’t be offensive to Chinese especially when it comes to political issues. Respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China or get out of the Chinese market.”

GAP reacted to this crisis quickly on the same day with a statement posted on its Weibo account.

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“Gap Inc. respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. We’ve learned that a Gap brand T-shirt sold in some overseas markets failed to reflect the correct map of China. We sincerely apologise for this unintentional error,

In addition, it added that the products had been pulled from the Chinese market and it would implement “rigorous reviews” to prevent it happening again.

However, Chinese consumers said they didn’t accept this apology as GAP didn’t solve the problem at all.

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@AiAiAiVicky “’We are sorry’, and that’s all.”

@Sunbin1990 “The T-shirts were sold oversees except China and now you tell me that you are going to withdraw the products from China???”

@Xiaomeizi_LU “How about the T-shirts being sold oversees?”

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Besides Chinese consumers complaints, People’s Daily, an official media outlet of China, released a statement on Twitter, indicating that the map on the T-shirt is incomplete and GAP needs to respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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This issue has even caught the attention of the Chinese government.  In a press conference with The Chinese Foreign Ministry, a journalist asked for the government’s comment on the GAP scandal. The government said they had noticed this issue and they would respond to it according to the attitude and actions of the brand.

The boycott of GAP is still trending on Weibo. With pressures coming from both Chinese consumers and the Chinese government, GAP is struggling to survive in the Chinese market. So, what can other brands learn from this lesson?

First of all, brands need to be extremely cautious about political issues. Try to avoid any topics related to controversial political problems such as sovereignty and territorial integrity, government policies or the political system. Patriotism is at the core of Chinese national spirit and they will not accept a brand that they think has no respect for their country.

Secondly, if you have already made a mistake and upset your Chinese customers, apologise quickly and take measures to rectify the situation staright away. “Admitting mistakes and correcting them immediately” is highly appreciated in traditional Chinese culture.

 

Sources: The guardian, The Chinese Foreign Ministry

Two Emerging Chinese Short-Video Sharing Apps

How can brands make use of these Short-Video Sharing Apps to reach their target audience

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Since their inception, social media platforms have always been essential tools for brands to reach their target audience, especially in China, where over one billion people use the internet every day.

However, besides WeChat (China’s WhatsApp), Weibo (China’s Facebook), and Youku (China’s YouTube), what other social media platforms should you utilise in order to communicate with your audience?

This article will introduce you to two emerging short-video sharing apps in China, which enjoy increasing popularity among Chinese consumers, especially younger consumers.

Kuaishou Video

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Kuaishou (快手, meaning ‘quick snap’), launched in 2011 in Beijing and backed by Tencent and Baidu, it is one of the fastest growing short-video sharing apps in China. With over 400 million users, Kuaishou is also the highest ranked app in the short-video sharing industry, which means that one in three internet users in China are using this app.

Standing out from other short-video sharing apps, Kuaishou does not use celebrities or KOL’s to attract traffic but aims to build a place where everyone’s voice has a chance to be heard. Kuaishou not only offers users an opportunity to have a glimpse of other people’s lives, but it also serves as a platform for them to build relationships with each other.

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For example, a video uploaded by a construction worker, which shows his working routine, received over two million views on Kuaishou. He has been sharing videos recording his process of losing weight and showing his special talents, for example, raising a 6-meter steel tube with one hand, and has gained many followers.

Users of Kuaishou generally have higher engagement and closer relationship compared to other short-video sharing platforms. In the above two videos published by the worker, each of them has received over 6,000 comments. “Fight, smile and keep going!” “Applause for our construction worker!” These are just some examples of the kinds of conversations on Kuaishou. 

Video users regard Kuaishou as an interesting and down to earth brand. Compared to other short-video sharing apps like Douyin, most of the users on Kuaishou are young females who live in small cities. According to a report by Penguin Intelligence, 66.6 percent of users on the app are under 24 years old, and over 61 percent of users live in third- and fourth-tier cities.

Douyin video

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Lauched in September 2016 by Toutiao, one of China’s biggest tech start-ups, Douyin (抖音, meaning dynamic music) reached 100 million users in just six months.

Differing from Kuaishou, most of the videos on Douyin are creative social content and most people view Douyin as a fashionable and young brand where they can show off their personalities.

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For example, Douyin lets users choose a song, record themselves miming and dancing to the tune. Moreover, Douyin offers various filters and speed options like time lapse and slow motion, which help users create more engaging and exciting content.

Compared to Kuaishou, users of Douyin are generally younger and have higher education levels. In addition, most of them are from bigger cities. Over 90 percent of the app’s users are under the age of 30, 66 percent are female, and over 45 percent live in first- and second-tier cities, the Penguin Intelligence report shows.

How can brands make full use of short-video sharing apps

For brands that target China’s Gen Z Consumers, these two emerging short-video sharing apps have increasing influence. Currently there are two popular ways for brands to promote themselves using short-video sharing apps.

The first choice is to work directly with these apps to launch branded campaigns. These campaigns could include a banner on the homepage, a promoted challenge hashtag, or a custom filter.

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For example, Pizza Hut and Suning worked with Douyin to launch some interesting video filters. Despite the fact that these filters contain small brand logos, people are still happy to use them, which helps increase brand exposure to a large extent.  

Another way for brands to use short-video sharing apps is to work with KOLs. While KOLs do not necessarily mean celebrities, normal people seem to have more influence than celebrities in short-video sharing apps.

According to the Penguin Intelligence report, 57 percent of users will follow normal people who produce interesting and funny videos, 53 percent of users will follow people with a special talent, while only 20 percent of users said they would follow celebrities.

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A good example of working with KOLs is Adidas neo’s cooperation with two Chinese celebrities on Douyin. By producing engaging videos with celebrities, Adidas neo gained 150 million views and 1.2 million followers in one month after they became active.

While video-sharing platforms might not be the perfect fit for all brands, they offer great opportunities for those who are looking to experiment. Moreover, based on the fact that there are several platforms with different audience segments and various ways to work with them, it is important for brands to figure out which platform and methods best suit them. 

 

Source: Penguin Intelligence

Travelling, Dining out, Entertainment… Here's What the Chinese Spent $146 Billion on Over New Year

A Close Look at How Chinese Consumers Spend Their Money on Chinese New Year  

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Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival in China, is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. Chinese New Year holiday is a time when Chinese citizens reunite with their family and usually a time when they spend. 

This year, Chinese nationals have spent most of their money on travelling, dining out and entertainment. Sales in catering and retail industry jumped 10.2 percent to about 926 billion yuan ($146 billion) during the Chinese New Year holiday from Feb. 15 to 21, compared with last year’s Spring Festival week, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

The consumption trends of traditional Chinese New Year have been seen to improve this year. Besides festival gifts, jewelry, accessories and clothing, organic vegetables, fresh fruit and healthcare products were amongst this years popular shopping items.

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In addition, smart home devices such as floor-sweeping robots and dishwashers were particularly popular this year.

Now let’s have a close look at these three sectors: travelling, dinning out and entertainment, which have gained increasing popularity among the Chinese during the Spring Festival.

Travelling

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Chinese consumers tend to travel more than they used to do during the Spring Festival. According to the China National Tourism Administration, there were 386 million visitors during the Spring Festival holiday, which has increased by 12.1%. Similarly, spending on traveling has increased 12.6%, reaching 475 billion this year.

In addition, travelling abroad is also becoming an increasingly popular choice: Chinese tourists are reported to have been to 68 countries and 730 cities during Spring Festival holidays, with South-eastern countries being the most popular destination.

Interestingly, the South Pole is reported to be the most expensive travelling destination for Chinese, with each Chinese traveller spending on average over 1.6 million yuan.

Dining out

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According to the data, the trade volume of catering has increased over 40% during the Spring Festival week, with medium and high-end catering services growing rapidly.

Family reunion dinners before the Chinese New Year have become extremely popular: the booking rate of some popular restaurants has reached 95% and above.

Two new trends that are worth noting are that firstly, takeaway is a popular choice for reunion dinners. Some restaurants in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong offered food delivery for reunion dinners and received extremely positive feedback.

In addition, some restaurants even send their chefs to customers’ houses and offer a private menu for them. Only limited restaurants offered this “door-to-door” service but they all gained huge popularity.

Entertainment

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Entertainment plays a more and more significant role in the Spring Festival holiday. According to the data, the consumption of entertainment during the Spring Festival has increased 47%, with movie consumption surging by 57%.

In addition, according to data offered by MaoYan Movie, the biggest online movie ticket platform in China, consumers have spent over 5.7 million on movie tickets in China, which has amazingly increased by 71% compared with last year. The first and second days of the Chinese New Year were identified as the peak period, with almost all movie tickets selling out.

Wen Bin, a researcher at China Minsheng Banking Corp in Beijing explained that better infrastructure in recent years such as bullet trains have offered young people better access to entertainment.

Generally speaking, the spending data indicates China’s long-term shift toward a consumption-led economy, and away from old-style investment and export-driven growth. Furthermore, China’s strong spending power will continually contribute not only to domestic but also global demand.

 

Source: Bloomberg News界面, WEMONEY新华网搜狐网

How Chinese Brands Won Over Our Hearts this April Fool's Day

Chinese brands start to embrace the April Fool’s Day

For brands around the world, April Fool’s Day is the perfect chance to communicate with their audience and improve brand awareness. Nowadays, Chinese brands are more global-centric and have started relating with the international audience by tapping in the global festivals and topics.  We have picked two of the best Chinese campaigns embracing the sense of humour on this April Fool’s Day. 

Hong Kong Airlines: A ‘taste of Hong Kong’ on Flight

On 1st April, Hong Kong Airlines announced on Facebook that they were going to serve a ‘taste of Hong Kong’ with dim sum, smoky roasted duck and sizzling hot barbecue pork on its long-haul flights.

 
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What’s more, they announced that customers could receive traditional Hong Kong candies and even toys on all long-haul flights departing to and from Hong Kong.

 
 

This rather innovative concept was quickly revealed as an April Fool’s trick with the hashtag #AprilFools Hong Kong Airlines used on Facebook.  The Hong Kong Airline’s Facebook page received a slew of comments praising the campaign, with some people even commenting “It's time to fly with this airline.” Nice one, Hong Kong Airlines.

TenCent: New Goose-raising Technology

Tencent, China’s Facebook, posted an article on the 1st of April saying that they are going to raise geese, and their flagship ‘AI goose farm’ is under construction in Guizhou, China.  

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Tencent claimed that the farm would use ‘goose facial recognition’ and ‘goose to human language translation’, and they introduced a new technology that can help geese diagnose disease in an early stage.

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However, at the end of their article, Tencent revealed that this was just a joke for April Fool’s Day.  Although it’s somewhat disappointing to some of their fans, Tencent explained that the new technologies mentioned in this article are real.

 

The building, for instance, which is under construction, does exist. Instead for raising goose, it is for Tencent to keep their data in a secured and stable environment, in return providing their customer a better user experience.

  

Using a humorous tone, Tencent successfully explained their new technologies in a fun and interesting way.  Though people are a little bit disappointed that they can’t have Tencent geese, they are definitely impressed by its advanced technologies.

 

We see there is a growing trend of Chinese brands starting to embrace the global mainstream trends in their marketing strategy with a hope to engage with the international audience in meaningful ways.    If you want to find out how we can help your brand to expand around the world, contact us today.

 

We see there is a growing trend of Chinese brands starting to embrace the global mainstream trends in their marketing strategy with a hope to engage with the international audience in a meaningful way.  

If you want to find out how we can help your brand to expand around the world, contact us today.

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