In a recent report by BNP Paribas, "The Shopping Guide: Bloggers in China," fashion bloggers are said to “have filled a void on the internet ahead of luxury/fashion brands and publishers” in educating Chinese consumers about different global brands. That the rise of fashion bloggers and the development of the Chinese luxury market happened in tandem is no coincidence. The influx of rapid change has meant certain individual consumers have positioned themselves as experts in introducing new luxury items to the rest of the market.
In China, unlike North America and Western Europe, the influence of certain fashion bloggers is said to surpass that of media coverage and advertisements. We all know that certain bloggers can instantly attract awareness but in a closed-off market such as China, bloggers are the main vehicle that consumers use to discover and adopt non-China products and brands.
Gogoboi and Dipsy might not ring any bells (yet), but these fashion bloggers have a combined following of over 100,000 users on microblogging site Weibo, a blend of Twitter and Facebook. Dipsy, for instance, is also a Vogue China columnist and posts about seasonal collections, runway shows at major international fashion weeks, and Chinese celebrities’ cooperation with brands.
There is a wellspring of influence brands can benefit from when they engage correctly with popular Chinese fashion bloggers. This can be seen in the successful collaboration of Gucci’s turnaround in 2016, which can be said to be the achievement of Chinese fashion bloggers who first caught on to the new designs and promoted them to consumers.
What’s more, one Weibo blogger, Mr Bags, recently collaborated with Strathberry, and Gogoboi took over the Louis Vuitton Weibo handle for the Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2015. Furthermore, Cartier recently topped a list of the most influential Valentine’s Day 2017 marketing campaigns courting Chinese shoppers. In an example of the significance of such strategies for influencing Chinese millennials, Lu Han (K-pop superstar and actor) reposted Cartier’s campaign information on Weibo and it was consequently reposted more than 500,000 times. Other examples can be drawn from the recent campaigns of Moleskine, Yirantian, and Yoox.
This rapid transformation of the blog from unassuming hobby to professional marketing tool is just another example of contemporary marketing strategies. These new successful tactics revolve around engaging carefully with the individual consumer and blending the product with the consumer.
Akin to native online advertising, we are seeing brands doing a gorilla-type native marketing that blurs the lines between what is corporate messaging (the brand) and what is considered at its root un-orchestrated communication ( bloggers). The question now is how such online marketing strategies can help a brand to assert loyalty amongst new customers and capture the elusive phenomenon of “stickiness.”