SMOOTO is a facial mask from Thailand. The raw materials they use in their products are mainly extracts from tomatoes, combined with Vitamin C, E, and organic moisturizer. This facial mask has many skin care functions including; whitening, hydrating, and anti-aging benefits.
The brand has grown significantly as a successful international brand and subsequently set its sights on China, the fastest-growing market in the world for beauty products.
A Growing Market
The health-based, beauty market is still growing by 10% year on year as China’s number of ‘middle-class’ consumers increases to 350 million in relative income terms. Smooto rightly saw a huge opportunity and understood the importance of digital marketing in China to get their product seen by this new health & fashion-conscious sector of Chinese society.
Nowadays, in the Chinese market, there are many specialized facial mask products. Customers have many different choices with lots of domestic competition.
SMOOTO, as a completely new brand in China, lacked awareness and reputation. Moreover, they needed assistance in how to attract loyal customers.
The Chinese Buy Brands
In a society dominated by consumer culture branding is everything, Smooto needed to grow its visibility and reputation in order to generate sales. Chinese customers are famously loyal to the brands they buy into but hard to win over. Especially as a new offer.
Chinese consumer society is all about ‘face’, how your status and image are perceived. The way middle-class consumers project ‘face’ is through their choice of brands. In this case ironically their choice of facial mask!
Partnering with Gentlemen
Smooto approached us to develop its digital marketing strategy to increase its visibility and reputation in the right, targeted communities. It was important to tailor the brand to the Chinese market by producing quality Mandarin content whilst staying true to the brand’s light-hearted image coupled with its international quality.
Getting Smooto featured in e-media sources was important, it legitimizes the brand and reinforces its reputation. Chinese middle-class consumers are very discerning and selective because of the many poor-quality Chinese options out there. They will research extensively before purchasing, content featured in news articles is often at the top of search results.
Weibo – Still Wildly Popular!
Weibo or literally ‘micro blog’ is the second largest social network in China with 300 million active users. It is similar to Twitter but has a larger active user base.
It is very important for branding because it is an ‘open network’, e.g users can see posts from anyone, they don’t have to be connected first.
Interacting with customers was the bedrock of this campaign. Chinese consumers expect brands to be personable and actively social in this type of media.
We set up a chat function for Smooto to interact with potential customers and used Weibo as a launchpad for quality Chinese content. The Chinese have a strong culture of sharing content on their news feeds which helped Smooto gain traction.
Customer Testimonials in Forums
Customer testimonials in forums helped improve the reputation of the brand. We started many positive conversation threads about the brand and encouraged users to give their feedback after trying the product. Forums are highly visible with sites such as ‘Baidu Tieba’, ‘Douban’, and ‘Tianya’ the go-to platforms for consumers to discuss product experiences.
Promotion by ads and events
On social media, we set up some banner adverts on targeted groups based on the socio-demographic data available from users’ profiles. This helped us to target the ads at the most relevant, potential consumer. In this case 20-30-year-old females in the cosmopolitan cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.
Fashion and make-up bloggers promoted brand
These bloggers are an interesting way for new brands to tap into active communities of consumers engaged in industry news and new product launches. Chinese consumers know the best to keep on top of new developments is through specialist blogs and these individuals were more likely to be early adopters of the Smooto product.
Smooto’s exposure has dramatically increased with 8 000 interactions per month on social media & forums. For a new brand, creating waves like this early on in its development will serve as a launch pad for its future growth.
On Weibo, there were over 4 000 interactions on social media posts and increased virality with all users seeing the post without having to be connected first.
Bloggers fuelled interaction by reposting and commenting on content from Smooto’s official account.
Once a brand has built up a following it will benefit from starting loyalty programs to incentivize users to re-share posts and engage with the brand, a very important first step to high-level, commercial sales in China.