Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 5.51.00 PMFloral water brand Liushen, owned by China’s cosmetic giant Shanghai Jahwa, became a summer staple for Chinese households in 1990. Said to be an effective mosquito and gnat repellent, mild antibiotic, and antihistamine, floral water was frequently used by women ages 30 to 40 years old. Now as its loyal customers age, the brand is losing young consumers to foreign brands.

In June 2013, Liushen launched the “Love Summer” campaign to invoke nostalgia in Chinese youth about the product they grew up with. The brand solicited user-generated photos with the theme “Summer with Liushen” on social network Douban, known for hipster and creative users. The Douban page enabled users to customize their photos with filters and messages. Simultaneously, Liushen posted a series of videos on Youku and Tudou with vintage visuals and nostalgic narration about the brand’s history, which went viral.

The campaign, featured as a Flash of Genius in our Digital IQ Index: Personal Care report was a success. Within three months, Liushen’s Douban page gathered 180,000 visitors, 10,000 fans, and more than 9,000 photos for the “Love Summer” campaign. The campaign gathered 150,000 hashtag mentions on Sina Weibo and 1.4 million impressions on third-party BBS sites.

Prestige brands have long emphasized their heritage to appeal to potential consumers. The well-received Liushen campaign hints such an approach could work for personal care brands as well.

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