The unstoppable rise of new technologies and the convergence of physical and digital worlds is becoming a meaningful opportunity for luxury brands. We’re quickly learning that there are limitations to our physical world, and that customers may even prefer the many virtual alternatives to it.
In China many luxury brands have successfully carried out marketing strategies by leveraging those tools to engage consumers.
Among the most common technological innovations used by brands in China we certainly find Augmented Reality (AR). The fields of its application may vary: from the creation of branded filters on social platforms such as Douyin, to the possibility of testing products in a completely virtual way, or scanning QR codes to get access to special content. The aim is to create a kind of “continuity” between the physical and digital world, providing the consumer with a unique and multisensory experience.
Burberry is certainly a pioneer brand in this sector. The brand opened the first social retail store in Shenzhen, where physical reality meets the world of social media. By scanning the QR codes in the store, the consumers access WeChat’s Mini Program full of exclusive content created to enrich the user experience.
AR is a very popular tool also for creating try-on apps. In the beauty sector, Armani Beauty has been the first brand to allow users to try lipsticks, eye shadows and many other products simply using their smartphone.
NFTs, non-fungible tokens, are unique, secure, and certified digital products that cannot be replicated or substituted in any way. By purchasing an NFT, the owner comes into possession of the property and a certificate proving the uniqueness of that precise product.
The Chinese online retailer JD.com created Lingxi, the first NFT marketplace. On occasion of Lingxi inauguration, JD.com put on sale 2.000 unique pieces of the company mascot – Joy – at 9.9 RMB each. They sold out within few minutes.
The term “Metaverse” (in Chinese 元 宇宙 yuán yǔzhòu), borrowed from the gaming world, in its original meaning indicates an immersive and sensory 3D online experience. Many companies have already taken the metaverse by storm within luxury and retail.
Tencent is creating its own metaverse by collaborating with Roblox, the leading video platform that allows users to create programs and design avatars to “live” in the virtual world.
Baidu has launched 希壤 Xīrǎng, the Metaverse app that allows users to explore virtual worlds via smartphone, computer or VR glasses, and which in the future will also make digital marketing tools available.
Gucci sold a digital Dionysus purse for thousands more than the physical bag’s retail price. Nike has built its own metaverse experience called Nikeland on Roblox’s platform.
Virtual KOLs, China’s virtual influencers, are gaining popularity. The industry has grown 70% since 2017 and reached a worth of 960 million USD last year.
Some brands have created their own avatars, so as to have maximum control of the actions and effects on the brand’s reputation. Other brands, on the other hand, decide to collaborate with external virtual celebrities.
On occasion of the relaunch of its fragrance “Prada Candy”, Prada presented its digital muse Candy, to attract Gen Z consumers, the most attentive and up-to-date on the latest technological innovations.
The reasons for virtual influencers’ success are apparent. They use platforms like Weibo, Bilibili and Douyin, Xiaohongshu or Taobao to monetize brands connections with fans, strengthening their online presence.
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