Brands are often trying to crack the code behind what makes a campaign a true viral sensation. There’s a surprising market that’s mastered the formula: China.
Chinese brands know how to make a splash and generate excitement with creative campaigns and collaborations that are on-trend, bold, and represent a keen understanding of their customer and brand value.
Here are four simple steps to replicate the viral success of some of the most creative campaigns from the Chinese market.
1. Identify where your brand has untapped value. While most brands have a natural tendency to lead with their core products and services, they often overlook the immense untapped value in their IP. A brand’s logo, packaging, and historical marketing has nostalgic value and often widespread awareness – especially for established brands. Classic Chinese candy brand White Rabbit, for example, has skillfully leveraged consumers’ history with its products. The brand launched a perfume with its candy’s signature flavor in a collaboration with Scent Library – reaching a new audience of consumers and boosting brand recognition.
2. Consider which brands have overlapping consumers. Unexpected collaborations have become a hallmark of China’s viral brand campaigns, but these surprising partnerships are actually quite thoughtful. Chinese brands have mastered the art of identifying brands that share the same consumer base – even if that brand is from a completely different category. Bubble tea sensation Tealive has delighted its consumers with branded limited-edition product partnerships with Nike and Casesbywf.
3. Be bold and creative with your campaigns. Chinese consumers appreciate and increasingly expect out-of-the-box creativity from their brands. Playing it safe doesn’t pay off in the Chinese market. Luxury French fashion brand Karl Lagerfeld showed up in the least expected place – with a “Kentucky Fried Chicken” branded tote to celebrate KFC’s 80th anniversary. The collaboration was a smash success for both brands.
4. Take risks and act fast! Even more so than Americans, Chinese consumers are very trend-oriented, and what’s trending can sometimes change on a weekly basis. In order to capture the enthusiasm around a specific trend, brands will need to shake up their usual approval process and act fast. Marketing heads and senior executives need to be comfortable expediting a campaign’s rollout, knowing that the payoff is worth the risk. Cosmetics brand M.A.C took a big risk partnering with Chinese mobile game “Honor of Kings,” but it turns out the unexpected combination of makeup and gaming was just what Chinese consumers were looking for.
The bottom line
If brands truly want their next campaign to achieve the culturally resonate, viral status, they have to step outside their comfort zone and take a page from the many unexpected but delightfully creative collaborations Chinese brands continue to serve up.