Two brands are better than one for fashionable young Chinese consumers

It’s 10 o’clock in the morning and a crowd of people is hurtling through a shopping mall. Some drop shoes or mobile phones, but they keep running.

The shoppers sweep through the store, battling with each other to reach merchandise, ripping samples from models when there is nothing left on the shelves.

This was the scene when Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo joined hands with New York-based graffiti artist Kaws to launch a T-shirt collection on June 3 in China.

“I had no idea what they were scrambling for, but it seemed like something cool so I joined them,” a female customer told China Daily in Beijing.

Meanwhile, the Kaws Uniqlo collection on Uniqlo’s online store was sold out three seconds after its launch.

The T-shirts, which were originally sold for 99 yuan ($13.9), were traded on secondhand e-commerce platforms for as much as 400 yuan.

Eventually, the combined online and offline sales of the T-shirts in China surpassed that in the United States, making China the top sales market in the world.

Market insiders said that the reason why the joint marketing by Uniqlo and Kaws was successful in China is that Chinese consumers have a herd mentality. Even if they knew little about Kaws, tens of thousands of people battling for the T-shirts made them want to do the same.

In addition, the celebrity effect works for Chinese consumers. When fans saw Chinese superstars such as Ni Ni, Jing Boran, and Yang Yang wearing the Kaws Uniqlo collection they didn’t hesitate to follow the lead of their idols, said industry experts.

Also, Kaws had announced on social media that this crossover branding would be the last time he cooperated with Uniqlo, making Chinese consumers think this was a chance they could not miss.

“Hunger marketing stimulates consumers’ desire to purchase. Crossover banding is now a hot term among all industries. Brand collaboration arouses consumers’ curiosity, giving them a new reason to consume. It is a’one plus one is greater than two’ effect. The brand image is promoted, and sales also go up,” they said.

Apart from Uniqlo and Kaws, other brands are also joining hands to find new growth points in China. Mosquito repellent-flavored cocktails introduced by Six God, a sub-brand under cosmetics brand Jahwa, and cosmetics firm Rio; cosmetics in Coca-Cola patterned packaging developed by South Korean brand The Face Shop and Atlanta-headquartered Coca-Cola; and spice-flavored lipsticks launched by Chinese fast food chain Zhouheiya and skin care brand Unifon have all become bestsellers among Chinese consumers, especially younger ones.

“The post-90s generation is becoming a new driving force for China’s consumption market. They have a high marginal propensity to consume, emphasize individuality, and like to share and express personal ideas, therefore innovative products are more likely to appeal to them,” said a report from United States consulting firm McKinsey.

Luan Lan, a partner at McKinsey’s Shanghai office, noted that brands should include newly emerged consumption groups into their overall plans, so that they can tailor specific marketing strategies for them.

“Brands will gain great advantage if they do so,” Luan said.

According to a recent report released by online marketing service provider Shanghai Bingjun Technology Co, brand crossovers tend to favor the cosmetics sector, as the growth rate of the sector is much higher than that of the clothes and shoes category. Its net profit rate can reach 30 percent to 50 percent.

“Young consumers, especially young female consumers, cannot resist cosmetics. This is why many brands are stepping into this sector,” said the report.

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