Jennifer Zhuang
Jun 24, 2020

Gucci, Prada and more struggle on Douyin

As global luxury brands launch on new social platforms, like Douyin, the importance of creating a winning brand strategy for each new platform is a must.

Photo: Shutterstock, Prada. Composite: Haitong Zheng/Jing Daily.
Photo: Shutterstock, Prada. Composite: Haitong Zheng/Jing Daily.

On April 29, Gucci officially opened an account on the Chinese short video platform Douyin. A Gucci spokesperson revealed in an interview with Jing Daily that this move was part of its “Digital First” business strategy, resulting in Gucci becoming a fast growing luxury brand on Douyin. However, despite being a global brand, Gucci’s Douyin current stats are comparable with a mid-tier Douyin influencer, with the most popular comments poking fun at Gucci’s low-quality videos, “just because the app is called ‘Shivering Sounds’ (literal translation of Douyin) doesn’t mean you have to shake your camera.”

Many users claim they initially did a double take because Gucci’s official account looked so eerily like a “knock-off fan account,” especially with its questionable featured influencer choices, outdated special effects, and confusing visuals. For Prada, another global luxury brand on Douyin, one successful strategy has been leveraging the power of working with the popular Chinese singer and influencer Cai Xukun. However, followers commented that they solely discovered Prada’s account only through Cai’s fame, suggesting that Prada needs a more consistent strategy with its brand DNA on Douyin. Saint Laurent, on the other hand, has merely 13k followers, implying that the vast majority of users have no clue that this global luxury brand even exists on Douyin.

As the hottest short video app in China, Douyin is considered as one of the trendsetters for Gen Z culture. So it’s strange that the biggest global fashion players have either not tapped into this ever-growing sphere or remain relatively invisible on the app, especially considering the younger generation’s fascination with luxury.

One explanation could be that high fashion concepts don’t always mesh well with Douyin’s most recent memes and viral dance challenges. Given this, it’s crucial for brands to reconsider their platform-specific marketing strategies to include more collaborating  with to top Douyin influencers, following the newest hashtags, and initiating trends that invite users to participate, creating a makeshift, grassroots ambassadorial effect.

Take Gucci’s TikTok (the international version of Douyin) account, which has fared slightly better by posting a video following the viral #iusedtobesobeautiful trend, and another video detailing a self-care routine using stop-motion animation. Although the account still faces a bit of backlash from users claiming their TikTok video quality doesn’t match their luxury background, its Tiktok account has surpassed its Douyin counterpart, with one of its videos receiving over eight million views.

As more and more global luxury brands launch on new and influential social media platforms, the importance of creating a winning brand strategy for each particular platform needs to be a must. They need to invent the time, energy, and resources into what’s needed to create content that not only represents their brand DNA, but also that resonates with younger consumers.

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