Don't Believe the Hype: Why WeChat Is Not a Cure-All for Luxury Brands

    Ogilvy & Mather's Jeremy Webb, who spoke at the China Chat Conference in Shanghai, explains why WeChat shouldn't be a brand's sole marketing tool.
    Qin QianAuthor
      Published   in Retail

    There is hardly any luxury brand operating in China today that could ignore WeChat as a marketing tool with a clear conscience. Brands have been investing enormous energy and resources into their WeChat presence initiating campaigns, producing content, or partnering up with key opinion leaders (KOLs).

    Positive returns on their investment would seem to support these decisions. Every now and then, luxury brands reported impressive flash sales. But too much hype on WeChat could be misleading, according to Jeremy Webb, vice president and head of social@Ogilvy at Ogilvy & Mather, who led a presentation called "Does WeChat Really Deserve All the Hype?" at the China Chat Conference in Shanghai, which kicked off on Thursday, September 21.

    Webb, who has extensive experience in digital communications in China, shared his views on why brands should think twice before jumping into WeChat campaigns.

    1. WeChat Has Been Given Too Much Credit for Things It Doesn’t Do#

    Successful WeChat campaigns are based on more than just the campaign itself. Preceding a solid campaign, there has to be a good brand image, supporting billboards or other paid media advertisements, cool brand videos, or friends’ recommendations. To achieve good results, the brand itself has to be strong from the get-go.

    People who make the “buy” decision in WeChat campaigns are those who have already had great exposure to the brand and the willingness to buy. There is no way a weak brand can turn itself around simply by deploying WeChat campaigns.

    However, at the end of the day, WeChat could take much of the credit—people tend to be misled by impressive results and lose the real focus.

    2. Resources on WeChat often Go To “Shiny New Toys,” Which Are Ineffective and Distracting#

    New channels, or new forms are always exciting, for both brands and consumers. Brands could be spending too much on showing off the new toys, while consumers tend to be distracted by the cool features.

    It’s very common for brands to go to great lengths to make cool content, but then fail to effectively get that content to the right audience.

    Webb warned that many brands might have gone too far with the current digital trend. Digital by itself encourages sharing and is influential, he said, but often, brands will fail to come up with campaigns that deliver meaningful messages to the right targeted groups.

    3. Brands Should Do Better Than Just Get on WeChat.#

    WeChat is not, first and foremost, a good advertising platform. What brand need, in addition to their WeChat account and campaigns, is predictable good marketing. Spending time and resources on WeChat and simply hoping it will go viral is wasted effort.

    4. A Few Tips Before Starting a WeChat Campaign#

    This is not to discourage brands that value WeChat, but there are things to watch out for when using the app. First of all, brands need to be focused on their goals, and only do well-designed WeChat campaigns that serve those goals and integrate them well with other channels. Secondly, don’t be distracted from your content. Only good content, which delivers real utility or entertainment to a targeted audience, will lead to successful marketing.

    “You don’t need a WeChat strategy,” Webb said. “You need a strategy that works well for WeChat.”

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