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Digital trends from China are going mainstream

TikTok isn’t the only disruption in social media and e-commerce to come out of China in 2020.

Other trends from Chinese e-commerce are now going mainstream.

China, the land of online marketplaces, is already home to 3 of the top 5 highest-grossing marketplaces in the world.

In many ways, e-commerce in China is still starkly different than what we’re used to.

Everything in China is app-driven and centralised to a handful of platforms.

The centre of growth is shifting and Asia is expected to represent 56% of global consumer demand by 2030.

Global brands are already using China as a blueprint for developing their e-commerce strategies for the next decade.

The two biggest e-commerce trends to come out of China this year are:

  1. Live e-commerce
  2. Social e-commerce

Amazon ran Amazon Live in the US on Prime Day.

And Facebook introduced ‘Live Shopping’ for both Facebook and Instagram.

Now all major social media apps – Pinterest, Snap Chat, YouTube and TikTok – offer shoppable content or integration with your Shopify store.

Influencer-driven ecommerce and live-streaming are excelling in China.

You’ve may have seen this video – “Creepy Social Media Influencer School in China” – floating around lately:

During a live-stream, customers can interact with each other and the influencer, discuss the product, ask questions and place an order – all at the same time.

On Singles’ Day this year, JD made $15m in a 6-second live-streaming session.

Brands are embracing influencer-driven e-commerce with open arms.

Because it offers a combination of entertainment, engaging with brands and meeting your favourite influencers.

Consumers in Asia skipped the credit card altogether.

They went straight from cash to e-wallets instead.

And the same is now true for new business models.

Mobile banking, robo-advisory services, and wealth management tools have all enabled a shift towards mobile-first e-commerce.

Consumers in Asia aren’t only open to these new technologies but actively embracing them.

And this is giving rise to a new type of business model – the super app.

For consumers, super apps offer a single point of contact into a vast ecosystem of services.

And for businesses, it brings down the cost of marketing and sales – furthering the benefits of building digital value networks.

What does this mean for you?

There are differences in regulation, consumer maturity and consumer preferences with China.

And you shouldn’t chase advancement for the sake of advancement itself.

But you should be focusing on finding new ways to serve your customers.

Focus on building digitally-enabled value chains, collaborative ecosystems for e-commerce and innovative go-to-market solutions.

The blueprint already exists.

Now you just have to make the most of it.

Self-care isn’t a luxury anymore

This dumpster fire of a year has had one up-side: a growing interest in self-care and wellness.

We don’t see wellness as a luxury anymore.

The global pandemic has changed how we work, socialise and unwind.

Not to mention that it’s taken a toll on our mental health.

Facebook says mindful wellness is a major indicator that people are making time for self-care.

Over the course of the year, this trend has graduated from treating yourself to small indulgences, to planning for the future.

Pinterest is calling 2021 the year of rebirth.

In their ‘Not-yet-trending’ report for 2021, Pinterest is predicting that when people can’t venture outwards, they turn inwards.

They say that next year we’re looking forward to turning our homes into sanctuaries for work, play and relaxation.

Pinners are seeking inspiration on a whole host of activities.

From mindful wellness activities for kids, prepping gourmet meals at home and advice on being financially independent to creating a better aesthetic at home with LED lights.

And brands are already responding.

Like Colgate, who partnered with the meditation app Headspace, to reward people for using Colgate Hum, a smart brushing app.

Colgate gave their customers ‘smile points’ in exchange for brushing their teeth and completing other in-app tasks.

When you earned 200 points, you got a free 60-day trial to Headspace with the Hum app.

And the possibility to continue using Headspace through Hum after the trial period.

Check out more campaigns that promote mental health and are making a difference.

SMS marketing is blowing up

With search and social becoming ever more congested, churn rate going up and performance of email marketing flattening out, DTC marketers are branching out.

And SMS marketing is blowing up.

As a channel, it’s still nascent but it’s been growing steadily in the last 18 months.

In an interview with Digiday, Digishop Girl’s CEO told that 70% of their clients are already using SMS to find new ways to reach and engage customers.

In the same article, an investor and advisor to the DTC brand Judy explained that SMS campaigns are getting around 70% CTR and upwards of 25% Conversion Rate.

I gotta say that’s pretty impressive considering Mailchimp’s average open rate is 21% and CTR is less than 3% which isn’t too far from other industry benchmarks.

SMS can be a very personal and intimate communication channel.

I’m a bit torn, to be honest.

SMS and text messages are by far my favourite way to reach out to friends and family.

I was 28 when I finally gave in to talking to people on the phone and taught myself not to get anxious anytime my phone buzzed.

It seems that DTC marketers know how big a deal it is when someone signs up to receive as SMS and they’re being mindful of that when planning their campaigns.

You can check out many examples of SMS marketing in use here and here.

For the time being, it seems that SMS marketing is working for DTC brands but it remains to be seen if and to what extent other consumer brands can use it as well.

Past surveys have shown that people do want to receive service-related information such as an appointment reminder but will they like brands to bombarding them with SMS marketing. 

I have my doubts.

One thing is certain. There are new opportunities for brands that embrace empathy and offer personalised experiences as people continue to reward them with loyalty and engagement.

That said if you’re really serious about using SMS as a way to have ongoing conversations with your customers, you need to look for ways to prove the value of the service before you press send.

Millennials now wield more decision making power at work. What does that mean for marketing?

Since the global lockdown started we’ve all been spending a lot more time staring at our screens.

And that’s true for both our personal and professional selves.

Since the start of the pandemic, B2B buyers are consuming more online content than before.

And there are differences in the type of content consumed as well.

For instance, interest in reading:

  • Executive summaries increased by 265%,
  • Landing Pages increased by 139% and
  • Webinars increased by 108%.

For the digital natives, this is more ‘duh’ than a revelation but bare with me.

(I know I have a stack of downloads that I opted in for and then promptly forgot about.)

The interesting thing is that, for the first time, online content and digital interactions are not only replacing in-person meetings, but people seem to have developed a preference for them!

Research by McKinsey shows that buyers have enjoyed the efficiency and convenience of self-serve and remote interactions so much that only about 20% hope to return to in-person interactions.

As an introvert, I’m pleased by this statistic. As a digital marketer, I’m ecstatic!

This shift is already reflected in how marketers across Europe are planning their budgets for 2021.

There’s an increased focus on investing in innovation and the use of new technologies for engaging customers.

This isn’t a ‘new normal’ type of shift either.

Because I know you’re sick of hearing everything slightly out of the ordinary getting put under the ‘New Normal’ blanket.

But believe me when I tell you that this one is different. And I’ll tell you why.

Millennials have officially grown up (yay us!).

And they’re moving up the ranks and taking leadership roles in the workplace.

All generation shifts bring their own challenges. 

Millennials are the first cohort of digital natives that don’t have any professional experience predating Google, Facebook, Amazon and thousands of other cloud-based apps for, well… literally everything.

GWI and LinkedIn explored this generational shift and discovered that millennials, whom they’ve dubbed BETA, are already key influencers in their organisations as well as approach B2B purchasing very differently.

You can download the research from here.