Monday, March 31, 2014

China Ecommerce Trend: New Way To Break Through The Many Brands and Retailers on TaoBao (掏宝)

TaoBao is the place to go to buy anything under the sun.  There are so many retailers and brands.  How do you compete and make your products stands out to drive sales? (磨菇街) recognize that this not only a seller issue but also a consumer issue!  The quality of product varies significantly.  It is tough work for consumers to find their way through all these products to find what they like.  So came up with a solution! is a site targeting female clothing.  They find clothing on TaoBao that is on trend with good quality.  Then, mix and match and merchandise them on their site so it does the work for the ladies to find and match on trend clothing.  This is perfect for us ladies, isn't it? 

What's so brilliant about is not only that.  Look closer.  Does it reminds you of Pinterest?  Yes!  Ladies love Pinterest and it is the same in China.  But does one step further and better than Pinterest.  Social Media platforms in the Western world are having a hard time landing in a model that drive revenue.  Just look to the East and they will find a model that work. present clothing as if blogger or anyone off the street sharing mix and match on trend using nice photos while the community can comment, "pin", and share.  When you see something you like, just click on the photo then you see the price and "Add to Cart" button.  The focal point is "sharing" so you don't feel that it is a selling site but the natural next steps for ladies who see something they like is then ask "where do I buy it"., right then and there, conveniently present "Add to Cart" for the ladies to purchase.

Brilliant isn't it?

Friday, March 21, 2014

How To Grow Social Media Community With Limited Budget For Small Business? - Just Climb, Hong Kong

I see a lot of questions by Marketers on Digital Marketing discussion board/forum on "how to grow social media community with limited budget for small business?".  There aren a lot of case study on big brands in growing social media community where these brands have marketing budget to "buy" the initial community base, create content, and do larger scale interactive campaigns.  I can't find much example or best practices for small business with limited budget.  

I came across this campaign at a climbing gym in Hong Kong call Just Climb.  This is a perfect example of doing something fun and interactive that your target customers would participate because it is cool, relevant and fun that they will be happy to spread the word among their friends like them (this is viral using your customer to find more target customers).  A little competition with incentive is always the nugget to give a little motivation for people to participate.  Incentive doesn't have to be expensive but it has to be relevant and valuable to your target customers.  How does this tie to growing social media base?  Use social media as a platform to enter the competition!  Give them a way to spread the word.  Once these people find your company/brand cool and fun, they will naturally be a fan.

For Just Climb,

  • they joint a few other climbing gyms created a platform call, Climbio, for climbers to share climbing routes.  This is fun and make their customers have more fun climbing problems than what they set in the gym and something to bond climbers online - get them talking so they comes back frequently (=stickiness)
  • then, they threw out a competition where anyone can enter a draw once for every 2 videos they post on Climbio, and anyone can get a chance to enter the draw once per 5 routes shared.  Not only does this drive participation on social media and this create content that the community values (=stickiness, interaction, content)

  • that's not it, to drive people to come to the gym more and get those who already come to the gym but hasn't join they FB, they give out a chance to enter the draw for every time they check in on FB when they come to the gym

  •  What about prize?  sponsored equipments, gym pass of participated climbing gyms for 1 month or day passes

Now Climbio has less than 500 likes and Just Climb as about 4500 likes.  Let see how many likes this competition can bring Climbio and Just Climb.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

McDonald (天猫)Store Presence

Holy!  Never have I experience such shopping experience online with North America websites.  There are much to be learned with what China is doing. is one of the most popular commerce sites in China but for reputable brands compare to where individual retailer can have a presence.

Check out how McDonald / T-mall ties traffics from Weibo (China version of Twitter) to McDonald's Tmall store front.  See that dial that over lay my mobile screen when I browse a post on McDonald's Weibo?  Just click on the shopping cart and it will send traffic off to the Tmall McDonald page not to just view McDonald brand but to be able to buy a drink or food online!  Wicked isn't it.


Check out the store front on Tmall.  It imitate an actual store front online.  I knew I can place delivery order online but never thought I can go to an online mall to buy a drink.  You have to go into a store using the QR code to get the drink so it is not seamless online purchase and it gets delivered to your house.  There isn't a real discount to incent users to buy from the net vs. in-store except that you get Tmall points for the purchase.  But it is a cool experience indeed from Weibo to online store front on a centralize ecommerce
 platform.  You get to see your community commenting about the product and such as well.  Will the big guns in North America like Amazon would do something similar soon?  It won't be long for Tmall, Taobao and Tencent to spread outside of China.  If you are not keeping an eye on these Chinese online players, you better do so starting now and learn from them fast.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not-For-Profit & Corporate Joint Campaign: World Vision 30 Hours Famine & Cafe De Coral

Cafe De Coral ran a pretty cool campaign with World Vision 30 Hours Famine this year.  Aside from awareness, consumers can immediately participate.  The program lets consumers pick whether they want to donate a full meal or 1/2 a meal to World Vision for the 30 hours famine that ties in well with the famine theme.  When received the 1/2 meal, a standee with a thank-you note is placed on the food tray that fits 1/2 the meal and the standee to reward the consumer for such choice and publicly recognized them.   

Store level execution was pretty neat as well.  Cafe De Coral put out posters, on-table sticker with QR code to drive people to their website for more info on the campaign, and there's quite a bit of messaging on their daily menu so it is very eye catching.

Cafe De Coral has high coverage.  Giving consumer an easy and rewarding way to participate and support a good cause not only drive participation but awareness as well in a grass root way.  Way to go!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Loyalty Program - What Works, What Doesn't?

I didn't realize how established Starbucks loyalty program in Canada is until I come to HK.  The loyalty programs of the coffee chains like Pacific Coffee and Starbucks HK are still at its infant stage compare to Canada.  Surprisingly, Starbucks didn't roll out the loyalty program model globally.  The programs in HK by these 2 chains doesn't reward frequent customers.  There isn't any incentive to join the Program or engagement programs.  There are so much more these 2 chains can do to drive engagement and repeat purchase utilizing these programs.  The Starbucks store locator app runs separately and has no interaction with the Loyalty Program, which is a missed opportunity.  The loyalty program of the Pacific Coffee is even sadder.  The incentive is to load up on a Pacific Coffee card that can only get discount on 3-4 specific days in a month.  No points, no other membership incentive.  Who would join?  

Coffee buyers from chains usually are repeat customers.  If leverage already loyal customers to be brand ambassadors to do your word of mouth marketing, it will be much more effective than just above the line marketing.

What's so great about the Loyalty Program of Starbucks Canada is that you can earn the level of membership when you reach the threshold of drinks you buy from Starbucks.  Not only does it drives sales but it makes the customers feel special and that they belong to a special group with VIP treatment.  To throw in more immediate incentive to be a member, Starbucks threw in a free drink for every 10 you buy.  Most people getting coffee in the queue I saw in Starbucks is a member.  Here, Starbucks got their customer data as well!  Starbucks also frequently sent relevant emails with deals and new products that I look forward to as member.  I even forward them to my friends and family.  Talk about successful word of mouth.

To my surprise as again, Starbuck China seems to have a more mature loyalty program than HK.  At least from the packaging, display and initial incentive for new comers, it looks like they got the program start off right.  Digital engagement is a big part for any Loyalty Program for most developed APAC markets due to smartphone adoption.  Would be cool to see how Starbucks engage members digitally.  I haven't seen much on Starbucks China Weibo mentioning about loyalty program.  It would be good opportunity to do cross platform marketing to engagement its community and drive them to be members so they can get more customers data to do regional and localize retention marketing campaigns.  China consumers are in for Starbucks not so much for the coffee (well…China is a tea drinking nation after all) but for its hang-out cafe environment and the status/recognition associate with the lifestyle Starbucks goer has. Therefore, nurturing the community in China for Starbucks with a successful and relevant loyalty program is essential for Starbucks.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Wicked Packaging - "Too Cool For School"

Would you think "Too Cool For School" is a brand name?  What about a cosmetic and skin care brand name?  It is a relatively new cosmetic brand originates from Korea.  It is quite out of the box compare to the well known cosmetic brands seen in market from Japan, North America, or Europe.  The cuteness and freshness of some of the Korean cosmetic brands stood out from the sea of cosmetic brands becoming its differentiator.  I cannot resist to buy a thing or two after seeing the packaging even I know nothing about the brand.  Kudos to the packing design of "Too Cool For School".  Packaging is known to be an essential part for cosmetics and skin care.  However, for long term, the effectiveness of the product and the reputation of quality are the most important.  Packaging gotten me to buy it the first time and may be as a gift for friends but will the product be good enough for me to repurchase?   

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Getting a Degree or Master Is No Longer Enough

When I was a kid, a bachelor degree is good enough to land you a good job.  Growing up in a Chinese family, knowledge gains through the traditional education system and books are the only routes I knew to learn.  All the way through college and a couple of years after I joined the work force that was all I knew.  Not until the last couple of years do I realized, in this age with knowledge and information pouring into your face by the second that the most up to date and relevant knowledge is no longer gained through school.  

Keeping yourself up to date on the latest news and industry trends are vital to keep you valuable in market.  We have to an era that school only give you the basics.  We all have to keep ourselves educated every day.  Be prepared that there will be no end to learning.  It used to be an option to upgrade your self if you want to climb up the ladder.  This has become a requirement to keep yourself competitive.  Like the habit to read news everyday, we need to get into a habit to read news in the field you are in everyday to keep yourself apace to the industry to keep yourself relevant.  Is there less need to learn knowledge through school then for our future generation?  Knowledge dispersing rate seems to be so much slower through the school system compare to the Internet.  What do you think?

                                      Photo Source: