Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Apr 25, 2018

DigitalWorks 2018: Takeaways, photos, and results

This is an archive of our live updates from yesterday's DigitalWorks in Shanghai, an interactive Chinese-language training workshop for China’s rising stars in the media industry.

The winning green team
The winning green team

DigitalWorks Shanghai took place 25 April in Shanghai, and our editors covered it liveblog style (the coverage begins at the bottom of this page, with newer updates as you move up). Also see our liveblog coverage of the Digital360Festival on 26 April.

The next day... after the points are tallied

Winner: Green Team                     86.17 points
1st runner-up: Blue Team              82.66 points
2nd runner-up: Silver Team           75.33 points

The green team's thinking is "logical, clear and on brief", comments Uniqlo's digital head Sai Liu, yesterday's chief judge. Beyond the surface of consumer pain points, insights were extracted and then diffused into the idea of a 'body metrics' scanner. The whole proposal is centred on this concept while at the same time combining all aspects of the purchasing process and consumer behaviour very well, he tells Campaign China. Finally, it also has high implementation value, and all in all is a relatively complete pitch, he adds.

5:28 pm

To conclude, the six mentors took turns to give advice to the delegates. Being distracted by technological applications, and having them inadvertently override real human needs is a common problem, so this is something to watch out for.

Everybody adjourns for a beer, anticipating the announcement of the winner tomorrow noon at the Digital360China Conference, part of the Digital360 Festival.

5:11 pm

Tony from the silver team, an employee from Amway China, is finishing the workshop with the last presentation of the day, addressing common pain points in lower-tier cities. Folks over there may not be as well-acquainted with mobile payment methods as their counterparts in higher-tier cities, he notes. Bundling the facial recognition data of one's extended family or even girlfriend or boyfriend with one's e-wallet is going to quicken the payment process, and a "touching" gesture no less when a child pays for new clothes for his/her parents. The same facial recognition technology can also be applied to create face-morphing effects — this is considered quirky user-generated content (UGC) that is very shareable, ultimately adding brownie points to Uniqlo's overall marketing strategy, he says.

4:47 pm

The orange team delved into the likelihood of utilising NFC (near-field communications) technology in user scenarios of eating or travelling to enhance Uniqlo's brand strength. A relatively short, simple presentation, but unfortunately it scored low for the consumer-insights segment out of a total of four criteria, evaluates Uniqlo's Liu on his marking sheet.

4:31 pm

A presenter from the green team advocates redefining Uniqlo's 'Made For All' brand focus to be more personalised and fitted. An in-store contraption that can measure 'body metrics' via 3D body-shape scans will be a better scheme than having 'magic mirrors' in public view, as it can be embarrassing to have your body type analysed and laid out for all to gawk at, he says. Here's a screengrab from his presentation.

4:09 pm

The first presentation by the yellow team is commencing.

3:55 pm

A last-minute rehearsal before the open pitch starts.

3:22 pm

Stanley Tao, Mindshare China's Content+ partner, is facilitating the discussion among his 'yellow' talents.

The breadth of Uniqlo's product range is a bane as well as a boon, we hear. The biggest barrier preventing Uniqlo customers from making immediate purchases, Tao summarises, is not knowing how a certain product can suit an existing lifestyle or can pair with existing items in a bulging wardrobe at home. Too many SKUs and too 'free' a retail environment does not provide the impetus to purchase. Current store layouts don't give the 'I'm ready to choose' feeling, he says.

One solution suggested is a deliberate move to create in-store 'paths' to highlight certain lifestyle archetypes, such as 'sporty-chic', 'family-oriented' or 'fashion-conscious' customers, concentrating on the best fit, as well as the best lifestyle fit, for each type. Tao's group, which includes a delegate whose agency served Uniqlo in 2013-2014, exudes a very practical vibe that concentrates on working with current structures, rather than reinvention. Their tactical executions also feel similarly practical, such as an idea to collaborate with Nice, a photo-sharing app in China similar to Instagram but that includes a feature allowing users to tag brands and specific locations on the image. 

2:47 pm

Henry Shen, head of strategy at McCann Health Shanghai, is mentoring his table of 'blue' delegates and reminding them of the core objectives in the client brief. 

One idea being explored: could Uniqlo make real-time outfit recommendations based on photos of strangers seen on the street or even stars parading on the catwalk? This visual-mapping trick is potentially interesting because while it fits Uniqlo's approachable, "made for all" brand vision, it also elevates the retailer, helping people emulate luxury or high-fashion combinations exclusive to celebrities.

11:24 am

Delegates put their heads down to work on the Uniqlo brief. They are spilt into six teams, each named after a colour: pink, silver, green, yellow, blue and orange.


11:06 am

Sai Liu, head of digital at Uniqlo China — representing the most popular person in the room, the client — explains the workshop brief to the 60 delegates. It focuses on Uniqlo's LifeWear arm.

The brand, under Japan’s Fast Retailing, has performed well in China with more than 600 stores and is now the country’s largest fast fashion brand, selling high-quality yet inexpensive clothing and accessories. To target its vast number of consumers the brand has created its own communication and membership ecosystem base on owned platforms, whether in-store or online.

LifeWear is positioned as a brand selling clothing to meet people's daily needs in various different types of scenarios. The question, says Liu, is how LifeWear can inject ingenuity and innovation into its marketing to reach Chinese youths. The task is two-fold: to strengthen the penetration rate in the younger segment in tier-two and -three cities through social platform content and technology; and to improve the user’s online/offline shopping experience by shortening the process. "The crux is to identify a gap in the ecosystem, or a missing link in the customer chain, then plan an always-on strategy to close that gap or fix the chain," he explains. The caveat? To build upon current platforms instead of creating new ones.

10:07 am

Milan Jiang, CEO of VeryStar - Linked by Isobar, is encouraging the delegates to unlearn what they have been taught in marketing textbooks.

Think about where your consumer is really spending time and what your consumer is doing at every possible touchpoint in your product category, she emphasises.

If you’re a toilet paper brand, for example, marketing your product is not neccessarily about how much money you can throw into commercials, or how well your media plan is written for above-the-line or below-the-line reach, she says.

Instead, think of the potential of placing a button right inside the toilet bowl. Alibaba’s Hema supermarket can ensure the delivery of new rolls in 30 minutes flat, China's version of the Amazon Dash Button. Proponents of this say it means you can buy toilet paper without even thinking about it. Opponents say it makes humans lazy, but isn't that all the better for marketers, because it increases the number of touchpoints by which they can interact with users, asks Jiang?

Asking friends to forward or repost a 10-minute mini-movie as a favour is not viral marketing, Jiang continues. This isn't something that can happen by force: it’s all about how fun or how original the content or offering is. A Coco Chanel lipstick launch? No thanks. A Coco game center? Oh, interesting! And how about a Durex lubricant pop-up store selling…sausages? Wow!

9:45 am

Wilson Yao, CEO of Allyes, discusses how in the past, technology used to be very separate from customer experience. Now, humans do not feel the presence of technology because it is everywhere. Technology is getting more and more human-like and almost becoming another sensory extension for consumers, he says. In particular, e-commerce and e-payment technology provides Chinese consumers with a conducive environment to upgrade their consumption experience, and even lowers crime rates simply because people don't carry so much cash anymore.

This concept is relatively straightforward, but it reflects the direct benefits of technology. Imagining how a piece of furniture will look in your home, for example, becomes a better customer experience with the help of augmented reality tools. Ikea's AR app allows users to visualise how a new sofa fits into their living room via a printed catalogue placed on the floor that transforms into virtual furniture. A machine's recommendations may be more suitable than a human's in this case, he says.

9:20 am

Cathy Huang, chairperson of CBi China Bridge, kicks off the workshop by selling the idea of the "customer as a co-creator", in what she calls 'Design 3.0'. A joke shared on China's version of Reddit encapsulates the idea. 

Design 1.0, in its earliest rendition, is equivalent to "I design everything". This evolved to designing for the client, followed by what Huang advocates to be the holy grail of brand design: designing with the customer along with a multi-disciplinary team, which commands the highest price. This is a tough task for brands, Huang says, as it requires a combination of systems thinking, team behaviour science, a participatory structure and a shared sense of meaning and purpose.

9:15 am

Jane Lin-Baden, APAC CEO of Isobar Group, opens DigitalWorks with a speech inspiring the young delegates from different agencies to challenge themselves. "You'll find that brainstorming with a bunch of strangers about strategic possibilities is quite enjoyable," she says.

DigitalWorks, an interactive one-day workshop for rising stars in China's media industry, is in its third year. It consists of a training programme designed to equip the region’s leading talent with best practices and proven techniques in China’s evolving digital marketing landscape.

Campaign China

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