How WeChat’s “Channels” is Pushing Luxury Brands to Become More Social?

WeChat made its short video feature debut

On January 21st, WeChat debuted its new feature “Channels” in beta testing and the official introduction of the feature is “a platform where everyone can make notes and create content and a window to know about others and the world”. With the launch of WeChat Channels, users are now able to create sub-one-minute videos or photos with a short blurb and for public distribution.

Channels in WeChat Discover tab
Source: WeChat official press article

According to third-party research, the short video industry was valued at RMB 46.71 billion in 2018, with a growth rate of 744.7%, and is projected to be worth RMB 200 billion by 2021.

This new feature could be understood as a gesture that WeChat is now competing within the short video sector to compensate for the user loss from WeChat official accounts in the past few years. It is apparent that online users have been directing to short video Apps such as Douyin, also known as TikTok to the international users, which has amassed 400 million daily active users since its initial launch in 2017.

Douyin’s slogan: Keep track of your life
Douyin’s slogan: Keep track of your life
Source: Douyin’s official website

Without a doubt, it is an opportunity not only for WeChat but also for luxury brands. Moving along with the new trends, many luxury brands have already made social marketing an essential way to further their influence among the young generation.

How social marketing is changing for luxury brands in recent years

If Weibo is what luxury brands are turning to create their social media presence around 2013, with WeChat public platform’s feature around 2015, luxury brands enjoyed the boom of subscribers and therefore had a more exclusive way to target their potential customers through WeChat official accounts. However, as WeChat is facing the decline of active users, so are luxury brands.

As a consequence, brands have been adapting to make their social marketing platform more diverse, shifting to platforms with more segmented user identity.

Louis Vuitton livestream
Source: Xiaohongshu user’s screenshot

Xiaohongshu, a platform known for users’ notes of beauty and luxury products and lifestyle, has welcomed one of its most prestigious official accounts Louis Vuitton on March 26th. On that evening, Louis Vuitton invited a famous fashion blogger Yvonne Ching and one of its brand friends Elaine Zhong together to host a live streaming to showcase Louis Vuitton’s new summer collection.

However, responses from views varied. Some considered that Louis Vuitton did not fit in the community atmosphere and some criticized the background setting and lighting of the livestream. These comments actually pointed out some general problems that luxury brands are facing when they want to localize their marketing in China, and it is the same case with WeChat’s Channels.

The upcoming challenges and opportunities of WeChat Channels

In terms of presentation form, WeChat Channels is different from Douyin’s full-screen playback and dual-column information flow. It is a single-column information flow, making it more like a whole video version of Instagram. In terms of content, what kind of content to be posted on Channels is the first matter to consider for brands, and if they are to post video campaigns, how they differ from the advertisement video shown at WeChat Moment is to be considered at the same time.

Louis Vuitton Wechat Channels account
Louis Vuitton FW2020 catwalk on Wechat Channels

Louis Vuitton, for instance, became the first luxury brand to launch its official Channels account, posting runway shows and video campaigns. By April 15th, the brand has uploaded 7 videos, the highest number of likes reaching 1.6k.

As WeChat is endeavoring to regain its users by adding Channels to its feature, how luxury brands are going to fully utilize and develop the existing App ecosystem to penetrate younger user group while maintaining their current clientele is still a test for them.