Steve Shi is part of the first wave of Chinese broadcasters experimenting with the emerging content vehicle of podcasting. In addition to his channel “Steve Says” which focuses on mental health, he is now the host of the branded podcast program “Herstory,” initiated by luxury firm Giada this year. Founded in 2015, Shi’s personal channel was named “The Top Show in 2019” by Apple Podcast, attracting Gen Z and millennial subscribers.
Much has been made of short-video and livestreaming’s rapid growth in China. Among these new engaging content formats, podcasting is one of the most overlooked. In NielsenGlobal Annual Marketing Report 2022, it was found that 59 percent of marketers in Asia-Pacific believe new formats like podcasts are greatly important to marketing strategies. Although this sentiment is lower than the global one (65 percent), in an age of information explosion, it is proving a valid way to grab audiences’ attention.
It’s time for podcasting in China to come of age. According to eMarketer’s projection, local listeners will reach 102.4 million this year, ranking the country second behind only the US; the growth rate is expected to remain in double-digits until at least 2025.
Though Nielsen’s report has found that many marketers do not have much confidence tracking the return-on-investment of podcasting, there are early adopters betting on the high brand recall rate that the format can drive. And there are big advantages to be had from exploring the sector, such as building wider community bases.
While global luxury houses like Gucci and Giada as well as homegrown labels Neiwai, Maia Active, and Pop Mart are all diving in with their own shows, launching digital initiatives on local podcast platforms can help luxury test the opportunity. Here, Jing Daily introduces three leading platforms in the mainland that luxury should know.
Background: Launched in 2013, Shanghai-based Ximalaya is the country’s largest audio-streaming platform. It has an extensive content offering that includes audiobooks, music, comic performances, and, of course, podcasts. In order to build a business structure that capitalizes on knowledge sharing, the platform created a professional user-generated content model by inviting KOLs from various industries including art and culture, sports, finance, and business to contribute. Recently, Ximalaya invited a host of celebrities, media outlets, and brands to open their official channels.
Who’s using it: In celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day, L’Oréal Paris joined forces with the platform to launch a dedicated program in March. The “I Say I’m Worth It” campaign featured one-on-one conversations between five celebrities and five popular podcast hosts concerning youth culture, women’s discourses, lifestyle, personal growth, and entertainment.
Background: Since 2015, Beijing-based Vistopia has been producing digital programs with a focus on culture — art, culture, history, literature, and sociology are all topics covered. Under the slogan “seeing another possibility,” the app has invited academic professionals to launch audio programs in order to build up a virtual cultural hub for domestic audiences. One of its most influential podcast programs is Eight Point hosted by cultural celebrity Leung Man-tao.
Who’s using it: To commemorate its 100th anniversary, Gucci collaborated with the digital publication house to launch a three-episode podcast called A Party for Music. For the project, Vistopia invited musicians to share their careers and discuss music anthology.
Background: Launched by Shanghai start-up Jike in 2020, Xiaoyuzhou is an app with a rapid growth of listeners: over 2 million within a year and a half. Distinct from other platforms that include various audio content such as music and audiobooks, Xiaoyuzhou is a podcast-only app featuring user-friendly functions and personalization algorithms. The high user stickiness of its live channels has attracted brands to partner with them, which is a healthy sign for further consolidation.
Who’s using it: In March 2021, local lifestyle company Neiwai collaborated with leading channel Stochastic Volatility to launch a branded podcast series on Xiaoyuzhou. The dedicated initiative included three episodes featuring women who are leading figures in their respective industries. The partnerships sparked off extensive online discussions on related topics (from gender equality to entrepreneurship), which echoed Neiwai’s women empowerment DNA.
Italian luxury house Giada has also teamed up with media outlet Tatler to roll out a show named “Herstory” on the platform. The ongoing series takes the form of dialogues with women leaders who share their personal life and work experiences.