Amid slowing economic growth and stricter daigou regulations in China, overseas retailers and brands have struggled to maintain the level of sales generated by Chinese tourists in recent years. It’s a watershed moment for the industry, as the winners quickly learned to adapt to Chinese technology, exemplified by brands like Lancôme, Tissot, and King Power that have utilized WeChat Moments ads to capture the attention of Chinese travelers before they even depart China.
Chinese tourists are notoriously known to be avid pre-trip researchers, especially when it comes to bargain shopping. But, how can brands and retailers get on their radar during this itinerary planning phase?
This is where the ubiquitous tool WeChat comes in. Because consumers tend to search for and read relevant articles on the expansive ecosystem in preparation for their trip, all those users’ activities leave traces for advertisers to target them. How? One targeting technique that has proven successful is to push out Moments ads while the target audience is still in the mainland.
WeChat Moments functions like the news feed on Facebook, and it’s where users spend the majority of their time browsing their friends’ posts. That’s why it has become an important piece of advertising real estate — it’s often the space where competitors fight to stand out among a sea of social media posts and information.
A pre-departure advertisement can plant a seed to encourage Chinese travelers to include a retailer or shopping center on their draft itinerary. Once the seed is planted, advertisers can drive in-store traffic by launching another round of Moments ads targeting. This phase includes leveraging Tencent’s “real-time IP targeting” technology, through which brands can send Moments ads into a user’s feed as soon as those travelers arrive at a destination to encourage an in-store visit. Below are some examples with real results:
Hong Kong Disneyland attracts deal-seeking tourists
Using WeChat Moments ads, Hong Kong Disneyland broadcast deals to interested mainland travelers. Inside of the ads were different coupons, incentivizing visitors to purchase first and redeem while visiting shops at Hong Kong Disneyland. The post also directs users to follow its official account. The ads’ click-through rate was double the industry average.
Duty-Free store King Power Thailand creates hassle-free experiences for female shoppers
The campaign targeted female Chinese tourists in Thailand to entice them to make purchases. The Moments ads used popular products and promotional information to attract users’ attention. Once clicked, users are directed to the mini-program e-commerce page where they can place an order directly, and later pick up their goods at the airport. The click-through rate was 5.5 times the industry average. Combining the power of WeChat Moments ads and the mini-program, King Power allows travelers to avoid the hassle of shopping offline. They have designed a seamless experience where travelers can place an order before arrival, while taking their time browsing products on the mini-program, and they can pay with WeChat Pay without switching currencies. Customers don’t have to deal with long lines or get frustrated when their desired item is out of stock as they would in a retail outlet.
While maintaining an engaging physical presence in boutique stores is always important for marketing to Chinese shoppers abroad, brands that understand how to make the most of China’s digital tools are likely going to more effectively connect with Chinese travelers who are creating their luxury goods shopping list for their next overseas vacation.