With the recent rise of social commerce apps like Little Red Book and Pinduoduo in China, social media and e-commerce platforms have now begun to converge at unprecedented rates.
WeChat, the uncontested top social media messaging app that was developed by China’s tech giant Tencent Holdings, is no exception. In April, the platform quietly launched a new feature called “Good Product Circle” (好物圈), which looks like an effort to strengthen its social commerce capabilities for its over one billion daily active users.
Good Product Circle is an extension of WeChat’s “Shopping List” feature, which came out last September. The “Shopping List” feature was originally created to allow users to centrally manage orders and shopping carts that they have scattered amongst different WeChat Mini Program stores. The April update to “Good Product Circle” saw WeChat introduce a new interactive module that allows users to recommend products, access friends’ recommendation lists, and socialize on the interface.
According to the consultancy Kantar Group, Good Product Circle lets users share different e-commerce Mini Program stores with friends, making the process of “grass planting [creating a demand] + shopping” — which is the core of the social commerce trend in China — much easier and more seamless. Users can share products from different platforms and interact with friends within Good Product Circle. They can also directly access merchants to purchase products recommended by friends.
Tapping into the power of friend and acquaintance recommendations gives Good Product Circle a huge amount of potential to grow into something more substantial during a time when Chinese consumers are now starting to feel fatigued by influencer marketing and advertising. Kantar said the acquaintance recommendation system on Good Product Circle can eliminate fake ads and enhance the credibility of the recommended products, thereby, gaining users’ trust.
However, the biggest drawback of Good Product Circle is that it’s difficult to find. “The portal is too hidden, and every entry is so troublesome. Plus, no notification is given,” a user named Hua commented.
In addition, brands and merchants are required to change their promotion strategy — from a brand-centric approach to a product-driven one — in order to best utilize Good Product Circle. The ability to create best-seller products with good word-of-mouth and place product-centric promotions to drive more users to proactively share products in their Good Product Circle will be the key.
Overall, the development of WeChat’s Good Product Circle will offer luxury brands and retailers in China another social commerce channel. Currently, brands typically collaborate with Chinese influencers to drive social commerce sales on WeChat, but Good Product Circle, built upon real consumers, is a fresh new possibility that lets normal people become influencers.