Location, Location, Location Is Everything for Collabs in China

Along with the early access strategies that frequently get adopted during pre-release periods, location choice is another critical component of how well a collaboration performs in China. While all brands treasure the publicity and revenue generated by co-branded drops, sales locations contrast depending on the desired consumer base and a brand’s goal.

As shown in Jing Daily’s latest Insight Series report, The Drop: Understanding Successful Brand Collaborations, profits may not be the primary objective for big brand collaborations. Instead, luxury brands often utilize them to receive maximum publicity while restricting purchase opportunities, further highlighting exclusivity. The 2017 Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaboration, for instance, was only offered through pop-up stores in eight cities worldwide, including a single such store in the 798 art district in Beijing. The long lines outside of these stores, combined with the collaboration’s widespread exposure on social media, advanced the brands’ dominance in public discourse.

As shown in Jing Daily’s latest Insight Series report, The Drop: Understanding Successful Brand Collaborations, profits may not always be the primary objective for big brand collaborations.

On the topic of how location fuels the hype of streetwear, senior economist at StockX, Jesse Einhorn, explained: “Supreme does in-store drops where people have to line up, for example, saying that there are only 20 t-shirts available in one day, so if you want one you have to turn up early. Stories abound of people spending many nights in a row outside in the cold weather waiting to get into a store because they know that unless they’re one of the first 20 people inside that store, they’re not going to get that t-shirt. That’s the most classic example.”

On the other hand, collaborations that want to maximize sales can use social media campaigns followed by easily-accessible purchase options. For the Esteé Lauder x SHUSHU/TONG collaboration online campaign, every Key Opinion Leader (KOL) post on Weibo contained a link to the Esteé Lauder Tmall flagship store for purchase. For Chinese jewelry brand Qeelin’s collaboration with handbag influencer Mr. Bags (Tao Liang), the limited-edition Qeelin x Mr. Bags red Wulu necklaces and bracelets were available through Mr. Bags’ own WeChat store, Qeelin’s boutique, Tmall shops, and through direct purchase during Mr. Bags’ livestream sessions.

Qeelin partnered with KOL Mr. Bags for a livestream session. Photo: Mr. Bags’ Weibo

Brands can also leverage access to exclusive collaboration drops to solidify consumer loyalty toward their distribution platforms. One way Nike sustains consumer engagement is by consistently distributing drops through its SNKRS app because it rewards frequent users with early access opportunities to exclusive new products. For its part, Coach sought to seize the opportunities presented by China’s burgeoning luxury resale market by entering into a strategic partnership with Poizon, China’s leading streetwear and sneaker trading platform, in May of 2021. Coach also plans to list products, including exclusive offerings, on Poizon in the future, recognizing it as an effective route to reach their young consumers as over 80 percent of Poizon consumers are Gen Zers.

For collaborations aimed at specific consumer categories, promotions get conducted through specifically-selected channels, and sales get limited to B2C sites, allowing brands to control the narrative surrounding the drop.

In the summer of 2021, the Chinese smartphone brand OPPO collaborated with the Japanese manga series Case Closed to introduce a limited number of Reno 6 Pro smartphones designed with elements from the series. Appealing to the enthusiasm of Chinese anime fans, OPPO promoted the collaboration heavily on the Chinese anime-oriented video platform Bilibili, where Case Closed fans are most likely to concentrate. This distribution strategy appeared to be highly successful as the edition of 10,000 phones sold out within seconds after the launch on OPPO’s official site.

“The location strategy should depend on a brand’s status in the market,” said managing director of the Chinese marketing agency Comms8, Carol Chan. “Say, if it is an emerging brand that is growing in the market, it tends to use major sales platforms, e.g., Tmall or JD.com, for releasing the hyped drops for sales and mass awareness. But if it’s a well-known brand with a strong existing customer base, it would opt for a more exclusive channel, such as the WeChat private VIP group or a Mini Program on WeChat, to announce the offer to its existing customers, helping build a long-term relationship.”

There are other goals of collaborations, such as probing consumer interest, highlighting the artistic tastes of both brands, and tapping into the lucrative world of artist fanbases. So how do location strategies determine the outcome of collaborative releases? Now available on our Reports page, The Drop: Understanding Successful Brand Collaborations answers this question and many others concerning the strategy of collaborative releases across multiple industries.

Buy the report HERE


Market Analysis, Marketing