Why Michael Kors’ Shanghai Party is a Killer Digital Marketing Campaign

Last week American fashion label Michael Kors hosted guests from around the world at the Shanghai Expo-I-Pavilion, as part of a digitally-led experiential event. The new regional strategy sought to entice Chinese consumers through an immersive user-generated campaign, with the lavish event seeing a host of celebrities grace Shanghai for what was heavily tipped as the party of the year.

Using the #korsshanghai hashtag, Chinese fans and consumers online were invited to interact with the event via a live-stream sent out across popular Chinese app YiZhiBo. At the center of the live-stream was Michael Kors “The Walk,” a runway spanning 50 feet in length and incorporating over 600 square feet of LED lighting, choreography, fashion cinemagraphs, three cameras, and an artificial intelligence “editor.”

Via six cameras inside the event space, the YiZhiBo live-stream had 9.53 million online viewers, according to Michael Kors’s official Weibo. YiZhiBo is partnered with Weibo so it can be used without downloading a new app.

According to a study by The Economist, China’s live-streaming apps are expected to reach a market value of $5 billion by the end of the financial year, having seen growth of 180 percent since 2013. Chinese live-stream consumers are largely quite young, with those under 35 making up over 75 percent of viewers.

During the event, VIP guests taking a turn on the catwalk included Yang Mi, Soo Joo Park, Hikari Mori, Ella Richards, and Princess Olympia of Greece. Michael Kors himself was also in attendance, with the famously private designer demonstrating his dedication to the Chinese market. The extravagant event boasted performances by DJ Sebastien Perrin, singer Bibi Zhou, and hip-hop artist Nick Chou.

“I love visiting China – there’s this amazing, simultaneous sense of incredible history and an exhilarating future,” said Michael Kors. “The energy and curiosity is something I feel every time I visit. Our Chinese clients love fashion and travel the same as I do! So I’m thrilled to be back in Shanghai with an event that allows our customers to experience the energy and style of Michael Kors in a glamorous, unique, and exciting way.”

Local Chinese social fans were asked to share their own ‘Walk,’ in celebration of The Walk Shanghai event, on local video-streaming app Douyin. Michael Kors’s innovative social strategy marked the first partnership between Douyin and a luxury brand.  With live-streaming apps proving to be the ideal place for brands to find key opinion leaders, the Michael Kor’s social media campaign on Douyin is latching on to a booming market.

The relatively up-and-coming app Douyin boasts an ideal user base, with 85 percent of its users under the age of 24. As of November 18, Douyin was listed as the number one free video-streaming app on China’s Apple App Store.

On Friday 8, numerous news sources reported that popular lip-syncing app Musical.ly had been sold to China’s Beijing ByteDance Technology Co., the parent company of the Douyin app, for about $800 million.

With this news and many regarding live-streaming as the future of marketing, Michael Kors efforts clearly demonstrate to other luxury brands how integration with new Chinese apps could be the best way to boost sales, and build a client base in a region with perhaps the fastest growing demand for luxury goods.

Although data from consumer’s reactions is yet to be officially released, coverage from the event was seen across all Michael Kors social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, Weibo, WeChat, YouTube, Twitter, and Snapchat, with the social channels seeing overwhelming support of the event by Chinese consumers, and over 100,000 views on the brand’s related WeChat posts. On Weibo, the topic of “#korsshanghai” has reached 140 million views and 16.9 million online conversations by the time of publication. Michael Kors’ official account and all invited Chinese celebrities also had numerous posts on the event. Yang Mi’s after-event post, for example, generated almost 400,000 likes and more than 250,000 shares.

The brand’s new social-led China strategy looks to take advantage of increasing sales in the region, despite the label globally experiencing a reported 11.2 percent loss of total revenue (to $1.6 billion) in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017.  Earlier in the year saw the company’s total revenue in Asia jump 96.3 percent to $128.6 million.

“Innovation is a priority for Michael Kors, not only in design but in every aspect of what we do,” said John D. Idol, chairman and CEO of Michael Kors. “We are always pushing the limits of what can be achieved digitally. Bringing together AI and digital technology in a way that is new and unique represents our continued leadership in fashion technology.  We want our guests in Shanghai to fully experience and enjoy the luxury, glamour, style, and excitement that define the Michael Kors brand.”

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Marketing & Branding, Social Media, Tech