What Happened: Over 11 million Chinese students just finished one of the most important examinations of their life: the college entrance exam, known as gaokao in Chinese. Everyone, that is, except those in Shanghai. While the exam started on June 7 for the rest of the country, Shanghai postponed it to July 7 following the city’s recent emergence from a two month-long lockdown.
Agile brands tapped into this occasion by launching dedicated campaigns that resonated with examinees and those who participated in the exam. Consumer goods players such as Starbucks and Heytea released limited-edition drinks to empower students to get high marks while tech giants like Baidu and Xiaohongshu rolled out campaign videos addressing this topic.
The Jing Take: Unlike in other countries where college admission is comprehensively assessed based on various factors, China looks primarily at gaokao scores. This system means that students who want to be admitted into local universities attach great importance to the exam as it is the only chance they can compete with other candidates.
Capturing the collective memories rooted in Chinese consumers, homegrown fashion brand Peacebird collaborated with digital production house Xinshixiang to release a campaign called “Once Again, I Will Win,” which tells the story of an adult recalling his gaokao experience and regaining the courage and power to combat challenges in the workplace. The video attracted over 4.9 million views on Weibo, with substantial organic engagement.
Though the examinees each year make up a limited percentage of the Chinese population, the experience of preparing for the gaokao is etched in the memory of a large number of local citizens. As such, the theme can be a perfect hook for nostalgia marketing as it is relevant to Gen Z and millennials who have grown up in China. Beyond various festivals celebrating consumerism, the gaokao can be an unique occasion to emotionally connect with local shoppers.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.