In our report, "Experts decipher the major 11.11 changes for 2019", marketing experts shared that KOL live broadcasts, management of consumer data, customisation and product upgrades represent the most significant changes in this year's Double 11. As such, what changes have brands made in preparing for this year's sales? And how will such changes affect the brands?
In line with marketing experts' interpretation, KOL live broadcasts have become one of the most significant changes in this year's Double 11, and as a result brands have upped their investments in social-media marketing.
“2019 marks the beginning of e-commerce live broadcasts," said Fred Zeng, general manager of e-commerce business for Master Kong's instant noodle business. "Compared to last year, we rely more on Taobaolive's capabilities in boosting sales for an explosive launch of our new products."
Brands have invested more in promoting products through live broadcasts because they can be more direct in recommending products to consumers during live broadcasts, and the conversion rate is very high, Zeng said.
Promoting products through live broadcasts also allows customers to get a first taste of the new products, thus selling off merchandise quickly while getting feedback from consumers about the new products. This will help companies further refine their products and speed up the overall product-optimisation process.
Maise Huang, national customer development director with Mars Wrigley China, said that investments in media advertising have increased, not only in traditional media, but also in a lot of social media.
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“Through media reach, we can find more consumers with precision,” Huang said, adding that the company is using an integrated strategy linking investments in non-website media with website exposure. This is the first year Mars Wrigley has taken part in the 11.11 sale, but it started using this strategy during the earlier 618 event.
“This year, Mars Wrigley will focus more on non-website exposure and website cluster management, as well as collaborations and interactions with KOLs," she said. "These are all breakthroughs for our brand."
Regarding brand marketing on social media, Jeff Ma, senior strategy director at EBP, believes that when content e-commerce and social e-commerce become increasingly mature, brands not only have to fight over website traffic during large-scale annual promotions, but also have to build stories and reputation outside of their websites. “In particular, stimulating interests prior to these grand promotions has a relatively large impact on website traffic and conversion during the promotion,” Ma said.
Kevin Guan, AdMaster growth partner, said that "focusing on return" is a key mission for brands. Helping brands "convert traffic into cash" will become the most important tasks for marketing departments and agencies, he said.
Targeting lower-tier markets
Master Kong's Zeng believes that the large platforms have increased their focus on the lower-tier markets in this year's Double 11, which will bring in more incremental traffic.
To target the lower-tier markets, Master Kong has re-arranged its existing product alignment or developed new products, pushing the right products based on the cluster characteristics and scenario-based requirements in the lower-tier markets. “In addition, we have used different product focus in different channels accordingly, and strengthened our layout in the e-commerce distribution system so that we can better reach the clusters in the lower-tier markets,” Zeng said.
Huang of Mars Wrigley also mentioned that her brand will put more emphasis on lower-tier channels and cities. "Due to the breadth of our products' target audience base, broadening the product lines and using different price positioning have become our brand's competitive advantages," she said.
Mars Wrigley will cover all channels in organising this year's Double-11 activities, integrating online, offline, new retail and other business models, and driving category penetration. The company started adopting all-channel marketing two years ago, including e-commerce platforms and offline stores and supermarkets, she said. “Different channels are used to target different clusters. Nevertheless, we will focus on online channels to promote new products in order to reach more consumers."
As for new products, AdMaster's Guan said that this is also one of the key words in this year's Singles Day. Quite a few brands have already discovered that, compared to traditional launch promotions, leveraging the big stage of the 11th of November can usually help new products take off more quickly and efficiently, he said.
“Double 11 has gradually transformed from being a promotional activity into an event that offers better experience and value to consumers," said Xuan Lin, e-commerce director at Shiseido China.
"Therefore, brands are changing according to these changes in Double 11 and consumer mentality. We believe that using consumers' preferred marketing touchpoints and a language that appeals to their touch and feel to communicate is the direction to which all brands are heading."
This year, Shiseido has set targets based on overall market development and penetration rates. “In line with our cluster management strategy, we have also refined the classification of our sub-clusters and product categories, and are applying separate personalised communication and activities to these classifications accordingly," she said.
Furthermore, AdMaster's Guan said, there will be more emphasis on streamlined operations during this year's Double 11. He believes that streamlined management of consumer data, traffic-based multi-channel positioning, synergy between website and non-website activities, control over the pacing of the entire marketing process, and platform and promotional rules upgrades. Every step taken will affect the competitiveness and conversion rate of the e-commerce platform, he said.
This means higher demands on brands' e-commerce operational capabilities, and better coordination between the marketing department and e-commerce department. As a result of these trends, the line between brand advertising and performance-based advertising will become increasingly blurred, and the brand owner's organisational structure will also change, he said. Furthermore, the need to link up website and non-website data will be increasingly important.
Mars Wrigley's Huang believes brands will pay more attention to consumer stickiness in this year's Double 11, and invoked the timeless phrase "content is king" as the most significant change in this year's Double 11.
Ma of EBP shares a similar view, saying that top brands have prepared many stories for this year's Double 11, from the product level, brand level, star level, and even in the cosmetics category. Driven by the platforms' focus on "rare commodities", brands need to think of product stories in preparation for large-scale promotions like Double 11 and 618, he said. "This is because whether it is the consumers or the platforms, starting from this year's Double 11, the expectations for the products will be increasingly high," he added.
All the brands we interviewed started preparing for this year's Double 11 very early. The earliest started product planning right after Double 11 last year. Some brands also said they started their preparations earlier this year, around February. The later ones started in June.
"All these marketing activities culminate in Double 11," said Lin of Shiseido China. "The marketing itself started much earlier through consumer communication, allowing the marketing content to sink in and ferment, and finally culminate in an explosive take-off on Double 11.”
Master Kong's Zeng said the company spent much more on marketing this year than last year. “To Master Kong, e-commerce not only represents a sales channel, it is also an integrated platform for new product incubation, branding, as well as consumer communication and interaction," he said.
On the other hand, Shiseido's Lin believes that Double 11 is no longer a platform activity. It, in itself, exerts a certain influence in the international market, and hence, investments in Double 11 and the corresponding results can also help a brand build its influence in the international arena, she said.