While most people would think that the explosion of hip-hop in China came about organically, iQiyi, a company that's widely labelled as the 'Netflix of China', prides itself for its role in making the local hip-hop scene flourish. The company created a show called Idol Producer, which became something of a sensation and attracted sponsors like Nongfu Spring Victory Vitamin Water and Xiaohongshu.
This, according to Liang Chengzong, iQiyi's senior director of business development, shows that innovation in content marketing "must not happen by chance".
Speaking at Campaign's third China Innovation summit, which took place yesterday in Guangzhou, Liang discussed the challenge of hyper-fragmentation of media in China. Young consumers have a lot of content to choose from, so how does a brand even begin to grasp their attention?
"Brands should be constantly changing, finding out the most basic needs of young users, and prescribing the right 'medicine'," Liang said. The medication to treat attention deficits, he added, is "high-quality content surrounding a marketable IP and marketed with scenario planning in mind".
That formula has become a top priority for many marketing strategists in China, such as Hu Qinhai, head of branding for Pechoin (also pictured below), a Chinese skincare brand that dates back to 1931. Amid slumping sales, it need to innovate.
Restructuring such an old brand is more difficult than creating a new brand from scratch, Hu said. What the brand has done of late is to inject contemporary subculture like literature and design into its skincare products, while keeping its core heritage in mind. Take last year's collaboration between Pechoin and the chief jewellery designer of the Forbidden City Zhong Hua, for example. Zhong had a forward-looking Western design style as well as an eye for oriental aesthetics, and is "consistent with Pechoin's brand interpretation of oriental beauty", Hu said.
The formula is smart, certainly, and the brand has followed it to a T by slapping 'content' onto its packaging to associate the brand with the 'marketable IP', in this case the Forbidden City and the imagery of ravishing beauties who used to live there.