China Case Study: How to build a brand from 0 to 300 million revenue with social media?

Shilin Song China Digital News

PMPM is a Chinese skincare brand founded in October 2019 and got its first-round investment in January 2020. In six months after the brand launch, their Tmall GMV (Gross Merchandising Value) reached 15 million CNY (~2.2 million USD). In 2020, the GMV of the brand surpassed 300 million CNY (~45 million USD) in the first year of launch. The growth rate is much quicker than average. (source: Weiboyi 微播易)

What’s their secret to success? Let’s look at this case study for social marketing in China.

PMPM C beauty case study products

Unique Positioning, Branding, and Story-telling are important

PMPM is inspired by “Pour (le) Monde Pour (le) Monde” in French. It means “For the world, to the world”. It’s the first skincare brand positioned in “exploration”: explore the world, empower the skin.

The naming of PMPM products also contains overseas travel destinations and their local ingredients. For example, BULGARIA Rose Black Tea Essential Oil, ICELAND Cetraria Islandica Essence Cream, etc.

The idea of exploring the distant world resonated well with young Chinese consumers, especially when overseas traveling is restricted for more than two years. In May 2021, before the 618 Mid Year Shopping Festival started, PMPM did three live streamings from Britanny, France, and brought the beautiful French coastline to Chinese people. The non-sales-driven live streamings also left a positive impression and strengthened the emotional connection with the consumers.

PMPM C beauty case study branding

Focus on Red/Xiaohongshu, Douyin, and Bilibili to connect with young Chinese audiences

PMPM’s target audiences are mainly millennials and Gen-Z. Therefore, PMPM decided to focus on social media such as Red, Douyin, and Bilibili. The reason is that Chinese consumers are actively consuming content about beauty, fashion, and travel. Young audiences are also open to exploring new brands.

PMPM C beauty case study audience on social media

The success of PMPM is based on a profound understanding of the target audience’s consumption habits and expectations. Therefore, PMPM designed customized content and KOL strategy for each social media platform:

Douyin KOL strategy

Douyin is a great platform to maximize exposure with entertaining content. PMPM worked with beauty KOLs for makeup tutorials, celebrity same style makeup, etc. Besides, they also worked with other KOLs to reach a broader audience, such as daily-life sharing, relationships, friendships, short videos with a plot. These are the trendy topics among young female audiences on Douyin.

Red/Xiaohongshu KOL Strategy

Chinese consumers heavily use Red during the research period, actively looking for skincare tips and product recommendations. Besides working with beauty KOLs, PMPM also collaborated with travel, photography KOLs, and lifestyle KOLs who can produce high-quality content. This strategy boosts the mentions and awareness on Red while maintaining a solid brand positioning.

Bilibili KOL Strategy

Bilibili is an important platform to connect with all kinds of “subculture” groups. PMPM collaborated with anime KOL, biochemical KOL, and foreigner KOLs to offer differentiated content that their Gen-Z audience enjoys.

(source: Weiboyi 微播易)

Align overall marketing strategy with China Commercial Calendar

618 Mid Year Shopping Festival is one of China’s most important sales festivals. Brands need to work with different tiers of KOLs and KOCs during various stages.

PMPM C beauty case study KOL strategy
PMPM C beauty case study KOL strategy

PMPM started to work with many KOCs and tier 3 influencers on Douyin and Bilibili at the beginning of April, two months before the 618 Mid-Year Shopping Festival. Although it didn’t create any peak of engagement, this strategy works well to create a word-of-mouth effect.

In early May, PMPM worked with more top-tier KOLs and influencers on Douyin to boost awareness and engagement. Combined with three live streaming sessions from Britanny, France, PMPM reached out accurately to its target audience on Douyin and successfully created a trendy topic.

From late May to June, the pre-sale period of 618 has already started. PMPM worked with more mid-tier KOLs, invested heavily in Red, and created several viral posts. During this period, KOL content such as “my list to buy/not buy during this 618” is the hottest topic. The reason is that consumers rely on KOL’s recommendations to select from hundreds of similar brands taking part in the 618 Shopping Festival.

In July, the big day has ended. PMPM still kept a KOL distribution strategy of top-tier KOLs : mid-tier KOLs : long-tail KOLs of 1:7:3 to keep generating content and discussion.

Summary

PMPM planned its social media, influencer content, and live streaming to ensure a successful debut in the 618 Shopping Festival. While keeping a strong brand positioning. Foreign brands can learn from PMPM’s case study, and adapt the social media marketing strategy according to each one’s context.

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