Introducing WeChat Farm, A New Opportunity for Luxury Brands

What Happened: WeChat has unveiled a new function which allows users to express their mood or feelings through a new option “Add Stickers.” Similar to the original QQ “mood” function,  citizens can now include playful animal stickers as well as backgrounds to match cartoon memes and emojis to display as their status.

Netizens are calling the new function WeChat Farm which taps China’s nostalgia for the era when Tencent released the farm management game, Happy Farm. When it was released in 2009, it was one of the hottest games among local Millennials at the time and the same is true today: The topic #WeChatFarm# is trending on Weibo, with 790 million views.

On WeChat, users can pick an animal avatar and background to update their status. Photo: Screenshots

The Jing Take: Social currency, or an influence on social networks and communities, is paramount in the digital age. A brand can easily be forgotten if it can’t grasp how to leverage social marketing, particularly in China. 

Take Hong Bao 红包 or the red envelope gifted during Chinese New Year as an example. This season, luxury houses such as Gucci, Dior, Prada, and Cartier all released digital red pockets on WeChat to replace the traditional paper versions. Brands even formulated different requirements for users to obtain these red envelopes. For instance, if consumers wanted an Hermès virtual red pocket, they had to finish the company’s WeChat Mini Program game. 

Recommended ReadingWhy Luxury Loves Virtual Red EnvelopesBy Lisa Nan

These virtual red envelopes, sporting luxury logos, incited such a frenzy that countless citizens spent money for them on Taobao. Although the price tag of Louis Vuitton’s electronic envelope was only around $4, luxury should not underestimate the use of such gimmicks to build connections with customers. It was a win-win situation as the shopper could show off their purchase and bask in their uniqueness — for only a tiny fee.

As parts of China remain locked down, what better way for luxury to experiment with the booming digital fashion economy than to offer avatars on WeChat? It’s still early days for the craze, but there is no better time to jump in than when people are locked down at home and looking for new online entertainment options. Fashion lovers enjoy showing off their luxury items — even if it is just a humble sticker. Given this, which luxury brand will be the first to create an “It” sticker collection in the digital world? 

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.