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Despite the rise of messaging services and social networks, BBS sites (enhanced versions of forums) remain a center of online activity in China. Born as a place to discuss social issues, and a powerful tool for influencing perspectives, BBS sites have become popular marketing tools. Many BBS discussions center on lifestyle tips, which gives brands an opportunity to influence a captive audience without overt selling tactics. Many brands in our Digital IQ Index: Personal Care China report have taken advantage of third party BBS communities or fostered their own.

For example, Tissue and Hygiene brands Huggies, Johnson’s Baby, Pampers, Whisper and Mamy Poko are educating consumers about their products on Pregnancy and Childcare BBSs. Mamy Poko is the most active and participates in six.

Our report features Procter & Gamble and Amway’s BBS sites as Flashes of Genius. In 2009, P&G launched an online community for its personal brands called the “Living Artist”, and in October 2013 added e-commerce and loyalty programs. The site is compatible with the brand’s Sina Weibo, WeChat, Renren and Baidu Zhidao accounts. Amway has a similar BBS site for its personal and home care products, which is less focused on e-commerce.

Third party BBSs control on average 15% of first-page organic brand term search results on Baidu desktop. 77% of brands have a PCLady page, which has on average 110,000 visits. P&G’s “Living Artist” has more than 350,000 registered members. These discussion sites show no sign of fading.

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