Daily Insights

For the Love of WeChat

By: Liz Flora | Jul 29, 2019

When flowers and candy won’t cut it, luxury brands have wealthy Chinese shoppers covered for China’s upcoming Qixi Festival. Similar to Valentine’s Day, the August 7 holiday has emerged in recent years as a prime time for luxury brands’ special-edition product launches on WeChat.

A practice pioneered by Dior and Bulgari in 2016, WeChat sales of limited-quantity Qixi Festival items are now commonplace among the world’s top luxury brands. Just a few of the names joining the annual tradition this year include Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Valentino, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Bally and Saint Laurent. 

WeChat Mini Programs are the most common platform for these sales. Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Luxury China 2019 shows that WeChat Mini Program adoption has surged among Index luxury brands in 2019, rising to 70% from 40% last year for fashion labels. 

Brands are adding functions to engage consumers on WeChat, like Bulgari’s Mini Program quiz asking users questions like what their idea of a romantic date is, and then recommending products based on the answers. Prada’s Mini Program has a 360-degree garden animation that users can click to reveal products for sale and personalized messages. Dior, meanwhile, did not use a Mini Program but linked from its WeChat profile to a mobile game and countdown clock before the collection went on sale.  

To drive hype for these launches, luxury labels tapped into promotional opportunities on WeChat and celebrity brand ambassadors. Valentino, for example, featured its brand ambassador Zhang Yixing in a WeChat Moments ad leading to its Mini Program, where its Qixi Festival gift boxes sold out within 20 minutes of going on sale. Louis Vuitton also drove to its Qixi Mini Program with a WeChat Moments ad, while other brands like Prada sent push messages to followers. 

Some brands are turning to influencers on WeChat not just to create buzz around their products, but also sell them. Chloé created a special-edition Qixi bag in collaboration with handbag blogger Mr. Bags, linking to his personal WeChat Mini Program store from the brand’s official WeChat account. Mr. Bags also promoted a special-edition Fendi bag in a WeChat post, linking to his affiliated Farfetch Mini Program store.

In addition to WeChat, accessible luxury brands are expanding their Qixi Festival sales to other online platforms. Tory Burch and Michael Kors both opened official Tmall flagships in conjunction with Qixi Festival collection launches, while Kate Spade and Swarovski both launched campaigns on social shopping app RED. Kate Spade is actually using RED as a main platform for the sale of its Qixi Festival bag collection, linking from WeChat to a purchase page on RED. Swarovski, meanwhile, is selling its collection on both RED and a WeChat Mini Program. 

Brands are also adding offline components to the Qixi shopping experience. Dior is only selling one of its Qixi Festival bags exclusively online, and making the others in the collection available in-store, while Louis Vuitton is making its collection available at Qixi Festival pop-ups at luxury malls in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Shenzhen and Chongqing.