WeChat: More Than Just A Messenger

WeChat has evolved from a message app into a lifestyle brand that dominates Chinese ecommerce

While Black Friday grabs global headlines for bringing out the worst in consumer behaviour, the Chinese have their own version called Double 11, sometimes referred to as Singles Day. 

But on November 11th you won’t see chaotic scenes of shoppers in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing racing for reductions, because local consumers are smarter and rely on what many in the West wrongly see as a pure messaging app: WeChat. WeChat has already revolutionised shopping in a way that Facebook can only dream, thanks to a series of deals that have turned it into the place where brands promote their offers as well as the platform that helps them pay for goods.

WeChat thrives because it answers a basic local need, the need to interact with the seller online, not simply to buy and review. Consumers in China have been able to ask questions and know more about the product before purchasing. The seller would often refer to the consumer as “qing”, translated as “dear” in Chinese, forming a closer relationship between the two.

WeChat offers a combination of Western social media, integrating features seen in WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Through these features it has become a lifestyle enabler. The Chinese do not need to go on various applications to update their status or pictures everyday, they only need WeChat. They do not need apps like Apple Pay and Uber, because they already have everything combined into one.  It provides the most convenient services to their consumers, giving them little reason to leave the platform.

It now transcends its humble origins as smart brands have looked to capitalise on the trust and ubiquity of the app. Shanghai No. 1 maternity hospital, for example, now allows patients to book appointments via the platform, review reports and bills services via its public account on WeChat.

Guomei, an electrical appliance retailer, now issue coupons through its WeChat public account delivering a higher than average conversion rate. Ejiajie is a housekeeping company that helps customers find hourly-paid workers to clean their homes via WeChat. Although previous expansion attempts have been targeted at Asia and North America, European growth is now firmly on the agenda for WeChat.

Brands that want to get ahead of WeChat will need to take five simple measures to prepare: 

1. Understand WeChat by using it for messaging at your company.

2. Add your WeChat to your LinkedIn profile

3. Connect with Customers who use it and find out about this early adopter subset.

4. Observe behaviours on the platform that inspire your customers/employees

5. Start to factor those behaviours into your social plans.

Chinese brands that come to the UK to build their business will understand the WeChat ecosystem implicitly, because their home success will be based on the platform. UK brands that want to be as savvy will need the same level of expertise.

If you want to find out more about WeChat and how we can help supercharge your social marketing, get in touch with a member of the team here

Chris Adams