Almost without exception, luxury brands have abandoned f-commerce in the past year, closing their virtual storefronts and focusing instead on finding more effective ways to turn social activity into e-commerce dollars. While the West has struggled mightily to do this on both established and emerging platforms–as outlined at length in our new Social Platforms report–for brands in China and greater East Asia the path to social monetization looks far more promising. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, there are cultural consumer behavior differences between the West and East. In China, for example, hundreds of millions of people live in non-urban areas without access to a variety of brick and mortar stores, therefore making them more inclined to buy online. But at issue here is also the platforms themselves. Even the savviest brands like Oscar de la Renta, DVF and Tory Burch weren’t able to turn their Facebook pages into lucrative storefronts. Regardless of the campaign strategy or product selection, the customers just weren’t biting.
On China’s Sina Weibo and Japan’s LINE, however, the numbers show that demand is increasingly there. Weibo, originally touted as China’s Twitter, has grown and been bolstered by an alliance with etailer giant Alibaba, helping launch it into so much more than just a microblogging prompt. With a strong focus on mobile (something that Facebook did late but has grown quite successful with), Weibo has capitalized on its young users’ habits. Recently, it was announced that Weibo and Alibaba would sync account logins and add “Weibank” online banking to its arsenal of features, both of these closing the gap between social media user and consumer that much more.