When the Chinese political drama, “In The Name of the People” made its debut on television, Beijing-based lifestyle advice app Enjoy wasn’t going to miss its chance. Keeping up with the buzz surrounding China’s hit series on corruption, they published an article “Real Big Bosses Don’t Wear Suits,” explaining to followers how the show’s wealthy fictional characters, many of them corrupt officials, dressed depending on their rank. It also showed readers what furniture the characters had in their homes on the show and how they wore their hair. Enjoy even provided brand recommendations inspired by the characters’ outfits, such as Baracuta, Ben Sherman, and Fred Perry.
This local pop culture association with the international world of luxury is becoming common in China’s social media sphere, which serves a growing population of upper middle class consumers looking for advice on an industry that is fairly new to them. This emerging group is increasingly dependent on online reviews for product recommendations and advice on how to make smart, quality and stylish purchases, and local app makers have been rushing to their aid.
Enjoy, or Ya Qu (which translates to “decent and fun”), in Chinese, is one such app aiming to shape consumer culture in China by teaching its users how to spend their money.
First launched in 2013, Enjoy is a Beijing-based information platform belonging to Caixin Media Company Ltd, one of China’s most prominent and well-respected media groups that provides financial and business news. Unlike its parent company, Enjoy, which has its own website, mobile app, and social media presence, publishes lighthearted, lifestyle-focused shopping guides that are usually inspired by trending events in China and around the world.
Enjoy has a unique target audience: high-income and primarily male consumers, which is one of the reasons why it stands out from the vast sea of female-oriented, lifestyle apps in the Chinese market. “Unlike female consumers, once male users have built up a brand loyalty, they don’t usually get swayed,” explained Bai Xuesong, edior-in-chief of Enjoy, in an interview with Chinese media. Observers of the media industry in China also point out that while female readers tend to proactively share content, male readers prefer quietly bookmarking the content they like.
Enjoy focuses on four areas of luxurious goods: clothing, chic culture, food and drink, and entertainment. Instead of competing with numerous existing social platforms that rely on user-generated content, Enjoy makes it clear that it aims to offer “top quality content in the consumer sector.” All of its content is written by well-known authors, industry professionals, and fashion experts. According to the data on its website, Enjoy has more than 100 partnering companies from various industries and over 200 key opinion leaders helping with its content. The app has amassed over 400,000 readers and has built a loyal community among its audience.
The scope of Enjoy’s content goes beyond China-focused cultural and political events as well. After the French election, for instance, Enjoy published an article introducing some of France’s delicacies to its readers.
Enjoy is not the only service aiming to give consumers in China lifestyle guidance. Another active WeChat public account that enjoys a similar user base of high-income CEOs, owners of small- and medium-size business, and the affluent white collar class in China, is Shangwu Fan, or BFaner in English.
Started by a female journalist-turned-fashion-writer Deng Wei in 2013, BFaner now has over 1.3 million followers on WeChat. Its articles, which focus mainly on introducing trending fashion pieces or luxury brands by connecting them with news events or hot topics on Chinese social media, have often received more than 1 million views within 24 hours after they are published.
When the controversial marriage between Hong Kong celebrity Aaron Kwok and Fang Yuan, a mainland Chinese model and online celebrity (pictured left), caused a huge stir on Chinese social media last month, BFaner made best use of the news and wrote a piece introducing luxury wedding dress brands to its readers.
Apps like Enjoy and Bfaner offer unique insight into how Chinese consumer behaviors are being influenced. A 2016 survey by Tencent shows that both impulsive and pragmatic online shoppers make purchases based on social media channels they are following as “it helps save the trouble and time of deciding on what to buy.” Moreover, consumers have used social media as a significant channel not just for deciding what to buy, but also for acting on those purchase decisions directly on social media platforms.
With more than 750 million internet users, China represents the world’s largest and fastest-growing e-commerce market. Understanding where Chinese consumers get their shopping inspiration is thus critical for international brands seeking to understand the Chinese market.