Marketing Experts’ Top Tips For Brand Collaboration In China

In 2022, keeping up with fashion involves maintaining a beady eye on the infinite reel of co-branded product launches. And just like the West, brand collaboration in China is bursting with news daily, from nostalgic cartoon IP releases, to luxury entering the metaverse by tapping digital collectibles.

The latest, upcoming market research report by Jing Collabs & Drops, Big in China: Brand Collaboration is the ultimate breakdown of co-branded trends in the mainland. Alongside interviews with designers such as Feng Chen Wang and Jimmy Choo, and artists like Daniel Arsham and Oscar Wang, the report features insight from some of the industry’s leading China luxury marketers. As a preview, here are some top tips to consider when launching brand collaborations in the China market, according to our esteemed interviewees who are featured in the report.

Feng Chen Wang's Piaggio designs are inspired by Chinese mythology

Chinese designer Feng Chen Wang worked on Piaggio’s first e-scooter in Spring 2022. Photo: Piaggio

1. KOLs are your top marketers

“Whether we like it or not, KOL collaborations are still a big part of marketing endeavors in China. At the end of the day, the market is massive, so it is a matter of who can speak louder and attract attention from consumers in order to spread awareness of any collection or collaboration. For this reason, influencers are still very much a needed tool to break through the noise and cut out a piece of attention and hopefully loyalty from consumers.” —Lucrezia Seu, Founder of Plush.Consulting, a Shanghai-based boutique brand strategy and marketing agency

2. Brand x brand drops are your safest bet, though

“I haven’t come across any brand to brand collaboration risks. I think that’s actually safer because each brand values its own reputation so it’s managed in a particular way. It’s removed from a celebrity’s life or personal behavior. If you want that burst of awareness, brand collaborations are a better way to go. Livestreaming, metaverse, subculture accounts, etc. – build your own stuff with that money, basically.” —Arnold Ma, Founder and CEO of Qumin and Dao Insights

3. Collabs aren’t vital for foreign brands

“It is important but not make-or-break at the beginning. The key is to be open to options but be patient on partner selection. When it comes to the execution level, any successful collaboration requires nuanced understanding, trust, communication and efficient teamwork, which needs time to build up, especially as a foreign brand.” —Olivia Plotnick, Founder of Wai Social

4. Utilize local talent for authentic messaging

“I would say the main aim [of brand collaboration in China] is to just borrow authenticity and meaningful connection, as well as trying to latch onto their audience that they have a better connection with, compared to foreign brands in the market. All collaborations normally happen when you’re trying to expand into different audiences. Gaining more authority, and tapping into new segments.” —Arnold Ma, Founder and CEO of Qumin and Dao Insights

5. China’s Gen Z love the metaverse

“Some of my favorite collaborations are in the metaverse, like Xiaohongshu’s R Space, which is a platform for digital collectibles. The metaverse, virtual influencer, virtual fashion shows, all of this stuff is really popular right now among China’s Gen Zers. Brands do stuff with the metaverse all the time.” —Arnold Ma, Founder and CEO of Qumin and Dao Insights

Email us to pre-order your copy of our upcoming market report “Big in China: Brand Collaborations.”

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