There is no need to elaborate on the importance of Chinese fashion bloggers in educating affluent consumers on the latest fashion trends and luxury items. For international luxury brands that hope to gain a share in China’s competitive retail scene, the real challenge for them is how they can best use these bloggers’ online fame to boost their sales prospects.
A recent collaboration between Thomas Ye Shi, aka Gogoboi, and a number of Western luxury e-commerce sites and department stores may offer a clue. Last week, Gogoboi announced the official launch of his WeChat boutique, called “Bu Da Jing Xuan (不大精选)”, on his WeChat account. This is not the first time that he has turned the app into a mobile store. Business of Fashion reported that Gogoboi sold lifestyle products, such as Gucci fragrances and Keecie bags, to his followers in the past.
The new boutique that will sell a curated selection of luxury goods, however, creates a new business model that is different from Gogoboi’s previous partnerships with a variety of monobrands. The blogger said in a statement that all of the products on his Bu Da Jing Xuan WeChat store would come from international luxury e-commerce retailers including Yoox, Net-A-Porter, Farfetch, Revolve, Mytheresa.com, and SSENSE, as well as department stores such as Harrods and Luisa Via Roma.
As China’s top fashion blogger on Weibo according to an Exane BNP Paribas ranking, Gogoboi built up his fame with his harsh and acerbic comments on Chinese celebrities’ fashion tastes and luxury apparel. His sharp personality, which is deemed as candid and humorous by many Chinese online users, has helped him quickly gain a significant following on both Weibo and WeChat. This has led many prestigious luxury brands, such as Louis Vuitton and Fendi, to come to him to form partnerships in recent years, which in turn, boosted his popularity further among the luxury and fashion circles.
Gogoboi has more than 7 million followers on Weibo and the viewership of his posts on WeChat can exceed 100,000 on average. The blogging style of Gogoboi has changed significantly as he has become more famous and developed closer relationships with brands. He is now much less harsh than he was before.
On WeChat, his posts embrace a wide range of topics to cater to different interests and tastes of readers, which include fashion trends, popular luxury items, mix-and-match tips as well as celebrity gossip. As an opinion leader in this field, luxury items that get mentioned and recommended by Gogoboi have great potential to become the most coveted products among Chinese affluent consumers.
As a result, the new WeChat boutique that supports a “see now, buy now” model is a smart way for international luxury e-commerce retailers to connect with wealthy consumers directly. As readers go through Gogoboi’s articles on WeChat, they can directly place an order for the items they like. The mobile store also promises customer service from 8 am to midnight everyday. To celebrate the launch, consumers currently can get a 15 percent discount on Yoox products.
The transparency and authenticity supported by Gogoboi’s new business can also pose a challenge to the daigou market in China, which is good news for luxury brands that have been plagued by this issue for years. As shown in the image above, Gogoboi will list the official sources of each product along with the shipping and customs information on the app. In contrast, Chinese daigou dealers tend to be vague and opaque about this information.
In addition, the pricing of Gogoboi’s products (excluding shipping and customs costs) is sometimes even lower than the prices on the original websites. For example, Jimmy Choo’s Petite Locket Shoulder Bag (image above) costs 8,729 RMB (approximately US$1,268) on Gogoboi’s WeChat store, while it is sold for $US1,350 on Farfetch.
With all of the benefits and potential of this WeChat store, Gogoboi’s new business does not come without challenges. It remains to be seen how the sales will perform in the next couple of months and whether it can offer affluent Chinese consumers with a smooth cross-border shopping experience. Gogoboi’s position is also not irreplaceable—it’s very possible that blogger competition like Mr. Bags and Shi Liu Po Report could put a greater emphasis on e-commerce in the future.