China is home to the world’s most socially active online population. 95% of Internet users in China’s Tier 1, 2, and 3 cities are registered on at least one social media site. 80% use social media to learn about luxury brands, and 40% have either read or posted a product review. With such an engaged audience to work with, prestige brands have largely adopted social media in China. In this year’s Index, only five brands out of 100 have no social presence and ten brands are now active on five or more platforms, as compared to just two last year.
The standout platform in China is Sina Weibo, which just surpassed 400 million users in November 2012. 91% of brands maintain a presence on the platform with an average follower count of 132,000 fans. Automobile brands boast the largest communities on Sina Weibo, with Cadillac leading the way with more than 850,000 fans. Fashion brands registered the greatest engagement and growth YoY and relative new-comer Coach added more than half a million followers in the past year to claim the No. 1 spot in the Fashion category.
In contrast to the strong growth of Sina Weibo, two other popular networks , Kaixin and Renren, are now both on the decline. Brands continue to suffer from low engagement on both platforms. SK-II, Elizabeth Arden, and Biotherm have all abandoned their Kaixin pages in the past year and only nine prestige brands maintain a presence on Renren. A new host of emerging digital networks, however, have piqued brands’ interests. In 2012, a handful of companies — among them Montblanc, Coach, Louis Vuitton, and Starwood Hotels — have all experimented with social geolocation platform Jiepang. On the mobile front, a few luxury brands such as Cadillac, Louis Vuitton, and Chow Tai Fook, have tested WeChat, a text and voice messaging communications service developed by TenCent. Two Pinterest-like social shopping sites, Meilishuo and Mogujie are also growing in popularity and beauty brands Lancome and Yue-Sai now maintain pages on Meilishuo.
For more information on the Digital IQ Index: China, download an excerpt of the report here.