How Luxury Fashion Brands Approach Douyin Marketing in China

Carolina Wu

Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, is becoming increasingly popular. In 2021, ByteDance (the platform’s developer) released data showing that the MAU (monthly active users) exceeded 850 million, with 130 million new content creators by the end of the year.

This growth is largely in part due to the recurrent pandemic in China. Watching Douyin’s short videos and live streams became a necessary daily distraction for many people confined to their homes. 

This uptick in users didn’t go unnoticed by brands either. According to official data released by Douyin, over the past year, 1.8 million new merchants set up shop in Douyin eCommerce.

Also, according to a report from the “2022 Douyin 618 Good Products Festival” – one of the biggest shopping festivals on Douyin – the platform’s total live streaming time reached 40.45 million hours between June 1 – 18, 2022, and 115.1 billion short video views with a products’ link to purchase. Shanghai, Chongqing, Beijing, Chengdu, and Guangzhou accounted for the largest buyers markets in China.

In terms of age distribution, the post-00s generation became the fastest-growing age group in terms of purchasing, seeing a 164% YoY increase. The purchases of the post-90s and post-80s also increased by 117% and 101% respectively over the same period last year.

According to a BCG 2021 survey, the breakdown of consumer age groups for the luxury market is:

  • Before 1980 (7%)
  • 1980-1990 (43%)
  • 1990-1995 (31%)
  • 1995-Present (19%)

As we can see, luxury consumers match Douyin users in terms of age distribution. Although most luxury stores are located in first and second-tier cities at present, more and more consumers in third and fourth-tier cities are gaining increasing access to luxury stores, with Douyin’s significant reach enabling brands to reach consumers more comprehensively.

Also, Douyin’s eCommerce Global Shopping – a trading platform provided by Douyin for overseas brands to sell their products in China – provides a one-stop-shop for affluent Chinese consumers to purchase “recommended products”. Again, this is a great channel for international brands to establish themselves in the Chinese market.

Luxury Brands Leverage Douyin Marketing

According to the 2021 Douyin Luxury Industry Annual Inventory Report released by Trend Insight – a platform that provides Douyin marketing data for KOLs and brands – more than 60% of the companies in Deloitte’s 2021 Global Top 100 Luxury Companies list are already active on Douyin, such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Dior.

Many luxury brands participated in Douyin’s live-streamed Online Fashion Show.

For example, Louis Vuitton’s 2021 Fall/Winter Men’s Fashion Show was live-streamed on Douyin, reaching a peak of 27 million viewers. Soon after, Louis Vuitton’s official Douyin account gained more than 250,000 followers.

Generally speaking, luxury brands would do their own live streaming on Douyin’s official account and collaborate with local KOLs when introducing their new products.

Douyin Marketing: Louis Vuitton and Cartier open VIP ROOM to enrich content and attract traffic

Cartier’s official account on Douyin

A handful of luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Gucci, and Dior made additional space on their Douyin homepage for a feature called the VIP ROOM.

This section allows brands to display their main promotional messages, campaign previews, new products, fashion show reviews, and direct links to their official website.

For example, Louis Vuitton is currently displaying content related to its fashion show in Qingdao.

For brands, this Douyin marketing function not only enriches homepage content but also encourages shoppers to click through and purchase products from the website, with the added comfort of doing so from a familiar platform.

Burberry and Coach interact through Douyin Challenge

Burberry previously performed a short video with famous actress Zhou Dongyu on Douyin. To leverage the platform’s marketing potential, it also created a Douyin Challenge. Users were encouraged to use the exclusive filters to shoot the same video of Zhou Dongyu, attracting many viewers, including Douyin Micro KOLs @小鹿式女友and @ ahua, who released short videos with a combined 1.37 billion views.

Coach also organized a Douyin Challenge on Douyin Super Product Day.

The marketing campaign encouraged users to post original content (including dancing dinosaurs!) with the challenge’s official hashtag #wowcoach for a chance to win cash rewards. Popular KOLs such as @是诺拉 and @爆胎草莓粥 participated in the campaign, and the topic # wow coach # received 210 million views.

Luxury brands can use the novel and interesting Douyin Challenges to stimulate users’ creative thinking, shoot attractive content, drive topic participation through KOLs, reach younger audiences, and enhance brand awareness and product exposure.

Prada and Gucci’s Douyin Marketing

In January 2022 Prada, in collaboration with a Douyin campaign designed by Trend Insight, invited athletes Gong Lijiao, Li Zhixuan, Xiong Dunhan, and Yang Shuyu to appear in a series of videos under the creative guidance of Hong Huang.

Prada’s Douyin campaign

The official accounts of Prada, the four athletes, Hong Huang, Douyin Sports, Toutiao Entertainment, and Douyin Star Fashion – which all participated in the blockbuster videos’ promotion and release – accounted for more than 100 million total views, generating a lot of buzz amongst viewers.

On Douyin, the videos with the hashtag #prada have been played more than 48 million times, and the related topic words of Yang Shuyu and Gong Lijiao topped the Douyin Sports Trend.

Within three days of the video’s release, Prada was promoted from 12th to 5th place on the Douyin Luxury Hot List, a brand ranking system on the platform.

In April, Gucci also launched a Douyin campaign to announce Gucci Bamboo 1947. The campaign was based on a short film featuring actress Song Jia, supermodel He Sui, pianist Chen Sa, and modern dance artist Gao Yanjinzi. The #guccibamboo1947 hashtag received 68.7 million hits as a result. Topics about the retro dressing of Chinese actress Songjia also hit the Douyin Trend, causing the entertainment Matrix accounts to post and spread.

Gucci Bamboo 1947

Summary

In conclusion, luxury brands should pay particular attention to the preferences and shopping habits of the post-90s and post-00s age groups when deciding on Douyin marketing campaigns. This means not only grabbing their attention but also thinking about how to boost brand loyalty to maximize sales opportunities. 

The multi-content features on Douyin attract the attention and increase the participation of younger audiences, so brands need to try a variety of games, challenges, and new ideas if wanting to capture this section of the market as well as leverage the significant reach of KOLs.

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