One of IDo's free "Irresistibly Appealing" bracelets
As major luxury brands intensify their efforts to use Sina Weibo as an effective digital marketing and communication tool, over the past month an event by the Chinese jewelry brand "IDo" has presented a valuable case study in successfully targeting young, tech-savvy shoppers solely via Weibo, one that the Louis Vuittons and Burberrys of the world shouldn't ignore.
A year and a half after creating its Weibo account, IDo now has more than 400,000 fans, most of whom started following the company in recent months. Initially, Hexun notes, like most brands IDo used its Weibo account primarily for displaying products and product information, then later established a Weibo forum with more in-depth content and two-way communications. At the end of last month, though, IDo launched its first Weibo promotional activity, "Irresistibly Appealing" (当时我动心了, literally "I was moved"), taking advantage of consumer insights accrued over the past year via its Weibo forum.
Currently ongoing, "Irresistibly Appealing" includes a daily lottery that gives fans the chance to win diamond rings and necklaces, and encourages fans to share their most romantic dreams, with IDo choosing one fan per week whose dream the company will make "come true." On the first week of the event, one fan was given the opportunity to meet actor and singer William Feng (冯绍峰), on week two a fan was given a luxury equestrian riding experience, and on the third week the chosen dream entailed a trip in a hot air balloon. As of this week, the event had attracted more than 100,000 participants and was shared by more than 80,000 Weibo users.
Aside from the fact that it involves online giveaways -- always popular in China -- one of the main reasons IDo's promotion is working is that it actually gets people into its stores. Recently, the company announced via Weibo and other social media that it would be giving away free bracelets at its store locations, giving those who signed up for an in-store raffle a chance to win a diamond ring. While the pink silicone bracelets aren't much to brag about, the announcement lit up Chinese social media platforms, and within three days IDo had given away tens of thousands of free bracelets, with the company announcing that it would have to produce several hundred thousand more. After giving away its first batch, IDo then encouraged Weibo fans to share photos of themselves wearing their free bracelets and leave comments about "their romantic dreams." Saccharine, yes. But in terms of engagement, very effective.
Irresistibly Appealing has created a massive amount of online buzz for IDo
Although more high-end brands are turning to microblogging platforms for marketing purposes, some remain hesitant, mostly because the egalitarian nature of the medium is counter to the concept of exclusivity that these brands extol. Still, with brands like Hublot, Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Gucci looking to get more involved with Weibo this year, it's clear that the platform can't be ignored by anyone in the luxury industry, and cases like IDo's ongoing promotion indicate that microblogging campaigns done correctly can build buzz better and more quickly than any other online resource in China. While we'd never expect to see brands like LV give away free bracelets, one needs only to look at the massive reaction on Weibo to the free Gucci folders included in the August issue of Vogue China to see how buzz can reach fever pitch (and drive sales).
There are still risks, however, both to reputation and to the bottom line. While IDo's "Irresistibly Appealing" event is, in Jing Daily's view at least, a success, one must consider that the company has already invested millions of yuan putting it on, and we have no sense of IDo's ROI as it currently stands. Nonetheless, over the past few months, IDo has succeeded in exciting its Weibo fans and spreading its name throughout the world of Chinese social media. While this kind of promotion isn't for every luxury brand, creative Weibo campaigns shouldn't be discounted, particularly by younger or smaller brands that don't have the name recognition or clout of Chanel or Hermès.