Since its founding in 2012, China’s bubble tea boss Heytea has not only soared in popularity as a purveyor of refreshments, it’s garnered some valuable street cred among Gen Z consumers. The main way it’s achieved this feat? Collaboration.
And this week has seen the launch of the drink chain’s hottest tie-up yet: Italian luxury house Fendi has followed Tesla, joining forces with the beverage brand for its latest local release.
For our verdict on that, along with the inside track on Li-Ning’s Disney disappointment and LePop’s sportswear collaboration, check out the below.
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Fendi x Heytea
Date: May 17
Verdict: On Weibo, Heytea has changed its icon to a yellow-and-black Fendi collaborative logo, a precursor of their collaboration, which launches tomorrow. It’s not the first time the leading tea brand has entered the realm of luxury, having also worked with Hiroshi Fujiwara (2022) and Tesla (2023), as well as beauty brands like LVMH-owned Fenty Beauty (2020) and L’Oreal (2018).
Official details are yet to be revealed, but across Xiaohongshu, consumers have posted previews of coasters, reusable cups, and badges. So far on the platform, the hashtag has attracted 1.1 million views.
Heytea holds esteemed popularity among Gen Z consumers in the mainland. It even boasts 414,700 followers on Xiaohongshu, a platform whose mainstay is posts of outfit inspiration. There, the collaboration’s teaser photo has received 1,856 likes, which compares well to the 100 to 1,000 likes that the average post garners.
WOW!Dragon x New Balance
Date: May 16
Verdict: One of LePop Group’s original trend intellectual properties (IP), WOW!Dragon has produced a hat and footwear collection in partnership with sports apparel brand New Balance. The cartoon dragon’s launch was already anticipated due to it already having been promoted as part of last month’s 2023 Beijing International Collectible Toys and Art Creative Exhibition.
A unique choice for a household name like New Balance, this partnership demonstrates the trend of foreign sportswear brands connecting with niche audiences by tapping narrow and unusual interests. That said, the art toy market in China is booming, trend IP figurines gaining growing interest. LePop’s leading Marsper IP collaborated with Gucci back in 2021, which went viral, so it’s not surprising that others are keen to follow the same strategy.
Marsper has 286,000 Weibo fans, dwarfing WOW!Dragon’s 786. Yet, it seems LePop is set on enhancing engagement through collabs – already this year, it’s worked with both Vans and artist Lucas Beaufort.
Disney x Li-Ning
Date: May 13
Verdict: The new Mickey Mouse collection from Disney and Li-Ning has gained traction on Weibo mainly as it features actress Zhong Chuxi, whose community of fans on the platform is 7.97 million strong, and singer and actress Li Yitong, who currently has 16.437 million. However, the tie-up’s posts have received around just 3,700 likes on average — it’s far from a blockbuster launch.
This low level of engagement is likely down to the fact that Disney and Li-Ning frequently bring out new products, like the Way of Wade sneakers featuring the Toy Story IP, and the Kermit the Frog sneakers.
This one is something of a flop for Li-Ning in terms of social media engagement: the collaboration’s official hashtag has zero organic posts on Weibo, and on Gen Z-loved Xiaohongshu, its hashtag has only 120,900 views.
Perhaps, the lack of noise around this collection is down to Li-Ning’s following being more focused on stylish, high-tech sports and streetwear, rather than playful, cute IP.