WeChat, WeCan, WeDo 11 April 2019

Reaching new audiences in the world’s second largest economy.
If you’re reading this in China, chances are you’ll have an app called WeChat on your phone. A few years back, 90% of its users were based in the PRC, after all. Now it’s spreading its wings – and its digital ambitions. Today, this all-conquering smartphone ‘SuperApp’ offers so much more than chat... and with the right content strategy could be a valuable gateway to connecting with a young, increasingly affluent and mobile-savvy audience in the world’s second largest consumer market.

The numbers game
WeChat’s scale is breath-taking. As the world’s leading all-in-one social messaging platform, WeChat dominates the China market. Its 806 million monthly active users – including hard-to-reach affluent trendsetters – follow a bewildering choice of over 20 million official accounts, and engage with the app through a variety of channels including brand promotion, direct messaging, social sharing, mini-sites, games, and ecommerce and payment services, putting it well on the road to ubiquity in China.

Targeted audiences. Limitless potential.
For financial and professional services operators keen to grow their brand presence and develop a dialogue with a targeted audience, setting up a WeChat ‘Official Account’ is an essential first step. Brands can also develop what WeChat calls ‘Mini Programs’ – mini apps inside the WeChat system. In just a couple of years, over half a million of these have been created. Meanwhile, a separate set of WeChat Business services caters for online B2B and B2C businesses, with social functionality that makes it easier to sustain a direct conversation with their audiences, reaching more people and deepening their relationships.

In the banking market in China, where the ever-growing popularity of apps like WeChat is disrupting the customer experience, it’s becoming a valuable channel for promoting wealth management and other value-added financial services – especially to a younger and more mobile demographic, who seek the perfect blend of digital accessibility on demand coupled with high levels of brand trust.

Key players on the brand building journey
Some of the leading players in banking and finance have already begun using conversational platforms like WeChat to reach out to their audiences and forge deeper relationships. JPMorgan, BNP Asset Management, Schroders, Franklin Templeton Investments, Blackrock, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, UBS Asset Management, HSBC Private Banking and Citigold Private Clients now all run their own WeChat accounts to communicate with existing clients and prospect for new ones. Feng Gao, Deutsche Bank’s Chief Country Officer for China, speaking in a recent online post, reflected that its WeChat channel helps communicate the bank’s “outlooks, strategies and successes among our Chinese-speaking stakeholders, who are increasingly using the app to access information.”

Among the coterie of international law firms now using WeChat, DLA Piper, Linklaters, White & Case and FitzGerald are doing more than merely accessing a more targeted audience; they are actively extending their relationships with a relevant and engaging mix of news and insights to help maintain long run brand awareness and interest.

Where to next?
WeChat isn’t exactly the kind of tech brand to rest on its laurels. With news feeds, search functionality, localisation and mapping technology all added or in progress, and rumoured Augmented Reality development, the app is putting in place the kinds of services that give it an edge – and which forward-looking global brands will find attractive. Our challenge, as marketers, is to harness these opportunities and reach out with confidence, using an app that looks set to become the daily digital destination of choice. Then there’s the international dimension. As WeChat looks beyond its borders, what are its prospects in Europe and the US, as efforts to take the brand global come into play? Watch this space, or better still, get involved now.

How we can help
Here at Living, our deep understanding of our clients’ sectors means we challenge thinking, inspire ambition and deliver meaningful change across their businesses. In a world that’s always changing, content rich and visually crowded, we help our clients communicate their difference and stay ahead.

To make a WeChat strategy your priority and to build brand and product awareness and tap into its huge potential, please contact Greg Hobden in London, Kevin Windorf in New York or Gigi Yung in Hong Kong.

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