As we find ourselves halfway through the Summer of 2019, and with major shopping events like 6/18 and QiXi in the rear-view mirror, WPIC’s VP of E-Commerce, Sally Zhang, sat down with WPIC’s marketing team to share some of the lessons she has learned this year from both her work in spearheading the Chinese campaigns of some of the world’s leading brands, and the insights she has acquired in her role as a Certified Lecturer at Alibaba’s Taobao University.

WPIC Marketing + Technologies: Sally, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us today.

Sally Zhang: My Pleasure.

WPIC: To start off, let’s discuss a bit what you’re seeing in the market, especially after the 6/18 festival that took place a few months ago. What sort of wins did you see and what tactics did you find were the most effective in driving revenue?

SZ: 6/18 this past year was fascinating. Aside from the data that Alibaba and JD released in the weeks after the conclusion of the event, we saw tremendous growth in lower tiered cities (tier 2 and below), which we believe will drive growth on those platforms not just for the rest of 2019, but throughout the coming years as well.

Interestingly, we saw that jewelry store sales increased by more than 440 per cent year over year! We think that we can attribute that to growing affluence among Chinese consumers, and increased access to credit. In addition, as QiXi [China’s equivalent of Valentine’s Day] sales begin to take place is less than 60 days after 6/18, our team saw a lot of consumers shopping proactively for that holiday.

In terms of the tactics that we felt were most successful, the biggest takeaway we give to brands would be to begin your planning (seeding, growing, harvesting) for promotional windows like 6/18 well in advance of promotions taking place. Ensure that your marketing campaigns are complementing the promotions you are offering (in tactics, media placement, KOL work, etc.) and, in order to ensure your customer has a brand positive experience, make sure that any logistic or operational requirements are fully thought out and prepared well in advance of any sales taking place.

WPIC: Great advice. What about QiXi? What sort of results did you see during the promotional window there?

SZ: QiXi had mixed results for retailers this year. While sales volumes were up when compared to non-promotional days, ultimately, a lot of product needs to be heavily discounted in order to get noticed, so the event is more about brand awareness than driving profit for your brand. That is why direct discounts or coupons on those platforms work so well during these promotions.

Last year, I can tell you that, for the brands we manage, jewelry store August sales were about equal to November sales (this is big because November includes 11/11, the largest shopping day of the year).

This year, traffic to the platforms was not quite as strong as last years, as Tmall did not offer enough exposure for this campaign across both mobile and desktop platforms. We would attribute that to a number of factors, but ultimately, we think that the upcoming 88 [VIP member day] promotion is cannibalizing from QiXi.

Tmall doesn’t want QiXi to steal momentum from their 88 VIP member day promotion. Why is that? Because the entire e-commerce industry in China has shifted from focusing solely on driving traffic to prioritize building customer loyalty through membership programs and other similar promotions.

So, every platform (Tmall, chief among them) is putting more effort towards building and operating their loyalty programs now.

WPIC: Are there any other tactics that brands need to be aware of, if they’re activating promotions on these days?

SZ: I would just remind people about the prevalence and growing impact of KOLs in the market. The right partnerships with influencers can really make a promotional campaign successful in China (just like the rest of the world), so my recommendation would be to do lots of research, vet your potential KOL and ensure that whomever is representing your brand is someone who fits with the message and purpose you are trying to convey.

WPIC: Great advice for all of us, regardless of what sector we’re in. Thanks for taking the time Sally.

SZ: Thank you.