Cosmetic brands in China: WeChat

Cosmetic brands in China: WeChat

Social Media plays a crucial part in business anywhere in the world. Everyone is familiar with Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc. You are using those platforms yourself, you know the mechanisms behind, you study the strategies.

However, in China platforms are local in every aspect of theirs: purpose, design, message to convey, traffic generation, community building systems, links with sales channels, ways to interact, indices, etc. We spend 24/7 on this, we train Local people and we still make mistakes.

You might have heard about WeChat or Little Red Book a deluge of times. What the Internet says is that one is Chinese Facebook, RED is local Instagram. Well, I can tell you that it’s very easy to say, very easy to believe, but it’s profoundly inaccurate. Same can be told of Weibo as Chinese Twitter, DouYin as Chinese Tik Tok (even with them being ONE company, it’s “same-same but different”), etc.

Let’s look into WeChat, first, and see what purpose it serves for cosmetics brands in China.

WeChat: What Does It Give?

Every foreign business company, including beauty brands, ask for WeChat, first and foremost. Internet is full of facts like WeChat has 1.2 billion active users. And this is IN China, mostly, as WeChat works too bad outside the Middle Kingdom.

WeChat is not Facebook.

Can you delete everything from your phone and computer, including contacts, sanitary passes or whatever, emails, banking apps, home service apps and any other service apps, and just feel abundant with Facebook? And business-wise, it can also be your credibility proof? I am not sure. With WeChat I can imagine that. There are some things you cannot do on WeChat, but the question is, “Do these things matter to people China?”. Or do they only matter to (that tiny number of) foreigners..?

What WeChat stands for is that I don’t know any successful business in China without it.

This sounds like, “Setup WeChat: you need it, it’s magic”.

This is your presumption, and a misconception. WeChat serves the purpose well, but a particular purpose! Otherwise, no ROI..

Let’s see what the challenges are when you deal with the platform.

You have set up a personal account. Well, even a total fraud can do that… Does it make sense in a country of fakes?

You have set a verified overseas brand account. What do you expect? Millions of followers in a month? You share a lot of content. How do they see it? – WeChat is a closed ecosystem. If I “google” for cosmetics (or rather “Baidu”, as Google is banned there), I will never get a single link to WeChat. You look into advertising the content. – Yes, please, 50K RMB minimum and, maybe, you will get a few followers. Or are you really well known in China? You resort to group sharing. – It might work! But first, tell me how you find the groups on condition that ALL of them can only be found if shared by a member. What’s your Chinese network, if I may ask?

You really need to make sure the platform works well for your particular type of business. For instance, if you want to find a distributor, it makes sense. But the account would be specific. If you do e-commerce, I’d say, it depends on many things (like even your sales channels, what the account should look like or is it needed at all) – there are unexpected details here!

Sometimes it depends on the business specifics, sometimes – on the brand value, the products, the target audience, etc. And based on that, it can be a big “yes” or a big “no”. Or simply not the right stage. Sometimes I sound contradictory: I say, “No WeChat – no business,” – but then it’s also me who says I don’t recommend it, “not at least for now”. WeChat is not cheap, so you don’t really want to take that risk.

WeChat might be a must for you now, or it might as well be a prospect. It might require completely different strategies. Do you know it?

Be careful and don’t make blind moves based on what Internet says – look into the matter. Nuts are good for health but a lot of people are allergic to nuts.

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Inna is Head of Cosmetics Department at GMA – a digital marketing agency in China and a TMALL Partner. They help foreign businesses enter the Chinese market and develop in it. Fluent in Mandarin, Inna provides expertise on the market and manages cosmetics projects run by her team. She is learning from and is supported by a Chinese marketing team that worked with Lancôme, Guerlain, Beiersdorf, Avène, etc. As a person, Inna is an incorrigible beauty addict. Besides, she has been living in China since 2013 and she is an ardent lover of the Chinese mentality. Her favourite quote is: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,” — by Dao De Jing. With her experience and life passion combined, Inna is driven to share her insights about China. Do not hesitate to contact Inna at: inna@marketingtochina.com

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