With an ecosystem of platforms that includes China’s largest messaging app WeChat, Tencent is attracting official partnerships with the world’s top luxury brands.
Earlier this week, the Chinese tech giant and Gucci released a joint statement announcing a wide-ranging digital partnership that will encompass “Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Smart Retail, Content Generation and Digital Thought Leadership,” according to the two companies. A few weeks earlier, Tencent announced an official cooperation agreement with Burberry focused on social retail.
Luxury brands have been increasingly turning to Tencent’s WeChat platform for e-commerce. Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Luxury China report found that 60% of Index luxury fashion brands and 51% of watch and jewelry brands had WeChat stores as of April 2019, a number that increased dramatically since 2018 with the rise of WeChat’s Mini Program feature. Tencent’s competitor Alibaba has been catching up this year in the luxury space, with 51% Tmall flagship adoption among Index fashion brands as of September.
The precursor to the Tencent-Gucci partnership was a “Gucci Inspiration Map” video series and campaign launched by Tencent Video and the luxury brand in October. The series featured four different mini series that each starred a different celebrity or group of celebrities, including pop star Li Yuchun, actor Wu Lei, actress Ni Ni, and a group of Gen Z celebrities featuring a member of the Rocket Girls idol group among others. The set of four series collectively received 80 million views on Tencent Video, while the campaign’s official hashtag has earned 230 million views and over 1.2 million comments on Weibo.
Tencent’s partnership with Burberry, meanwhile, will begin with a new Burberry store in Shenzhen “powered by Tencent technology” as the two companies state that their partnership “will pioneer a concept that blends social media and retail to create digital and physical spaces for engaged communities to interact, share and shop.”
China’s tech giants, especially the two biggest players Tencent and Alibaba, are known for each possessing their own digital ecosystems that include social media, e-commerce, games and other entertainment. Brands have the opportunity to launch campaigns tapping into these entire ecosystems: MAC Cosmetics’ Honor of Kings campaign, for example, marketed across every Tencent digital property. Alibaba, meanwhile, offers the opportunity to link directly to Tmall listings via the platforms in it orbit like Weibo. Each ecosystem is somewhat of a walled garden, however: WeChat, for example, blocks links to product listings on Alibaba’s Tmall, meaning brands must be aware of these ecosystems when crafting a cross-platform campaign.