social media

Do Chinese fashion bloggers have what it takes for luxury brands to succeed?

Chinese fashion bloggers - Gogoboi (second from left), who was ranked as the number one fashion blogger in China by Exane BNP Paribas, attended the Swarovski BeBrilliant event in New York last year. (Shutterstock)
Gogoboi (second from left), who was ranked as the number one fashion blogger in China by Exane BNP Paribas, attended the Swarovski BeBrilliant event in New York last year. (Shutterstock)

Luxury fashion brands marketing to China’s affluent consumers can no doubt benefit by leveraging the huge social media followings of local fashion bloggers. However, this strategy can leave brands with more questions than answers. Investment company Exane BNP Paribas’ recent report, The Shopping Guide: Bloggers in China, which names China’s top 10 fashion bloggers, explores exactly to what extent these influencers can be helpful.

The report ranks China’s most influential fashion bloggers based on their number of Weibo followers, and some of the most familiar names come out on top, including Gogoboi (ranked #1) and Mr. Bags (#3). Their social media feeds cover a wide range of content that varies from blogger to blogger. For example, Dipsy (called Dixi in Chinese, #2), and Vogue China columnist, whose Weibo handle is weishaonian_k (#8) both post about seasonal collections, runway shows at major international fashion weeks, and Chinese celebrities’ cooperation with brands. Fashion columnist with the handle libeika (#4) and shiliupo (#10) are styling experts who pair products from different brands to show readers how to dress.

The top 10 Chinese fashion bloggers ranked by Exane BNP Paribas based on their number of Weibo followers
The top 10 Chinese fashion bloggers ranked by Exane BNP Paribas based on their number of Weibo followers

The report illustrates that thanks to their vast number of followers, fashion bloggers are equally useful or even better than media coverage and advertisement to create buzz in China, unlike in the West, where bloggers are less influential for luxury brands compared to celebrities and fashion media outlets. This is because the rise of fashion bloggers and the development of the Chinese luxury market happened in tandem. The report explains that fashion bloggers “have filled a void on the internet ahead of luxury/fashion brands and publishers” in educating Chinese consumers about different brands.

However, when it comes to actually transferring popularity from the fashion bloggers to luxury brands, brands have to pay attention to more than just a blogger’s number of followers. Luca Solca, the author of the report and the head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas, said social media following is not a good enough metric to gauge a blogger’s value. “The number of social actions [likes, shares, and comments] and posts is a much better indicator of social media traction,” he said.

“The real ‘effectiveness’ of key opinion leaders (KOLs) also derives from their personality, specific writing style, visual style, unique skills or level of authority within the fashion industry,” said Patrice Nordey, the Shanghai-based chief executive officer of digital inception agency Velvet Group.

Examples of successful collaborations include Gucci’s turnaround in 2016, which can be said to be because of Chinese fashion bloggers who first caught on to the new designs and promoted them to consumers. Earlier this year, a capsule collection released jointly by Mr. Bags and the handbag brand Strathberry also attracted praise online. Not all matches are perfect though—when Gogoboi took over the Weibo handle of Louis Vuitton during Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2015, Chinese internet users sniffed at Louis Vuitton’s choice as they thought Gogoboi’s style did not fit with the brand image. In his latest Weibo campaign for Fendi, the number of comments under his post also dwarfed the average level of engagement he is able to generate.

What is possibly the biggest reason for brands to be cautious about seeking a one-on-one partnership with a Chinese fashion blogger is the unclear relationship between sales and influencer marketing. After Gogoboi’s November Fendi campaign, the brand’s parent company LVMH reported in its 2016 annual report that Fendi saw sales growth in China’s market. The two events may be correlated, but such correlation does not imply causation.

chinese fashion bloggers - Givenchy’s “Mini Horizon” handbag order page on WeChat
Givenchy’s “Mini Horizon” handbag order page on WeChat

Mr. Bags’ recent collaboration with Givenchy is another interesting case. Turning WeChat into a social e-commerce site, Mr. Bags gave his followers access to buy his exclusive Valentine’s Day edition Givenchy “Mini Horizon” handbags. He reported that 80 handbags were sold out in 12 minutes, but it remains unknown if such an astonishing achievement can be completely credited to his influence or if it’s a result of “hunger marketing,” a promotional strategy used by brands to boost customers’ desire to buy their new products by limiting supply. This strategy has been frequently used by Chinese brands, such as tech company Xiaomi, and has proven successful in drumming up sales in the short term.

There is no doubt that Chinese fashion bloggers will continue to play a significant role in the luxury fashion industry. But one thing is clear: blogging is no longer a hobby for them. Apart from their large online following, they need to prove their real effectiveness and business value in the long run.

By Yiling Pan @SiennaPan

This article was originally published on Jing Daily, a Fashion & Mash content partner.

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Unboxing videos boom in holiday season; why the psychology matters

Unboxing videos
Unboxing videos from vloggers Eleventh Gorgeous

Unboxing videos, where products are unwrapped and described in an informative and entertaining format, prove most influential in the run up to the holiday season, according to packaging supplier Rajapack.

Views from October through December run at 1.5x that of other quarters, totaling 34% of the year, which lends even more credence to the argument for seasonal packaging and ensuring perfection in every product shipped out.

The craze began back in 2006, when the new Nokia E61 was unveiled on camera as it was pried out of its packaging. The trend only picked up from there, with marketers and internet fame seekers alike jumping at the chance to reveal products fresh from the box, be it electronics through to toys and of course, luxury, fashion and beauty.

In 2015 alone, over 6.5 years’ worth of unboxing videos were uploaded to YouTube. Searching the video hub today yields over 53 million search results, at time of writing.

The better-produced videos are also achieving massive viewership. FunToyzCollector sits at the number three YouTube position with over 11.6 billion views, for instance. And the unboxing hobby can prove quite lucrative: another giant in the toy unboxing space, DC Toys Collector, raked in $4.9 million in 2014.

For brands, the profit component is much greater as each video contains the possibility to convert a viewer into a customer. Psychologist Diana Parkinson believes: “It’s the best, and cheapest form of advertising ever. These videos make us drool and desire what may well be unattainable.”

But why does all of this excite the viewer when they’ve got nothing to personally unwrap? According to Rajapack, our brains contain Anticipation Circuits that fire up when we see something building to a boil. Combined with a Mirror Neuron System that sets this in motion for other’s anticipation, we feel personally stimulated watching these videos. We go through the experience with the person on camera. “[It’s] totally voyeuristic, there is no material reward, only transitory visual reward,” Parkinson said.

The key to creating a coveted product and a successful unboxing video turns out to be as much about the box itself as its interior offerings. Author Martin Lindstrom of the New York Times bestseller, Buyology: How everything we believe about why we buy is wrong, claims this as truth for all buying experiences.

In building appropriate anticipation, the brand needs to factor in the packaging’s aesthetics, its sounds and even its tactile quality; all of which will be recounted to the viewer. This is something Apple does particularly well on all fronts, as featured in the above video example which has over seven million views.

This proves even more crucial in the luxury market where the consumer buys an experience with a product, whether opening it privately or with millions across the web.

Net-a-Porter's #thenetset still content back in 2013
Net-a-Porter’s #thenetset still content back in 2013

Fashion brands have long jumped on this bandwagon, of course, not only thinking about ensuring they’re offering high quality packaging but also how to benefit from the unboxing phenomenon directly. Net-a-Porter for instance leveraged its consumer champions by encouraging them to use the hashtag #thenetset on social media back in 2013, long before that same name became the company’s social commerce channel. While this was primarily pushed over Twitter and Instagram, the content at the time noted growing use of YouTube for unboxing by their fans.

The strongest effect of the psychology of unboxing and product videos, stands in the authenticity of these non-branded vloggers – in the notion of user generated content. According to Google findings in partnership with TNS and Ogilvy, there are particularly strong yields in the beauty market, where 66% of recent purchasers noted YouTube as a product visualisation aid pre-purchase.

In a fragmented digital marketplace, brand ambassadors and social media influencers have become commonplace. Potential customers look to these figureheads for insight. Another Google study revealed that 62% of people tuning into these videos do so once they’ve begun researching a particular product. As an animated reel of product reviews, these unscripted clips have become the modern day version of word of mouth.

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Comment counts: Getting your influencer game right is more important than ever

Luxury brands need to prioritise how influencers contribute to the balance of honouring brand heritage and driving their bottom line, says Glenn Ebert, senior strategist at SapientNitro.

Influencer marketing
Selena Gomez now commands $550,000 for a post on Instagram. (Image via @selenagomez)

Ad Week recently deemed Selena Gomez the most lucrative influencer for brands to collaborate with on social media. She charges $550,000 for a post on Instagram. “Instamodels” Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid (who recently launched a social-media driven capsule collection with Tommy Hilfiger both via social and in-store) command up to $300k a post.

There is no disputing that influencer marketing across all facets of the fashion industry has proven itself to be more than just a trend. Yet, as the fees influencers charge per post continue to rise, how do brands justify the spend?

The first question for defining an influencer strategy is, how do brands decide on which influencer to collaborate with? The unfortunate truth is many fashion brands are guilty of vetting most influencers from a sense of “gut feeling”; be it from members of a brand’s digital team, the rolodex of creative director, or the little black book of the public relations team. The suggestions can come from anywhere. I once heard of a CMO whose 13-year-old son suggested who to partner with, based on who he thought was “cool”. Either way, qualitative assumption and emotion often outweigh consideration of analytics and impact on the bottom line when developing influencer content and collaborations.

No one likes to quantify his or her friends. However, given the dire times and budget crunches some players in the industry, including the likes of Burberry, HUGO BOSS and Prada, are facing, it’s become a necessary evil. From shallow metrics like reach and engagement with content, to more serious matters of getting the most out of your production shoot spends, influencer marketing can be a smart move for luxury brands if the fit and timing is right. But it can also be a huge liability if executed poorly or without a cohesive creative vision.

Beyond defining benchmarks and measures for success to justify influencer spend, including comparing content engagement against brand performance, cost-per-engagement and the ability to convert to sale, brands also have to be aware of the legal minefield and potential consequences of influencer collaborations.

American ad regulatory agency the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has stepped up its efforts to go after brands and influencers alike who don’t disclose sponsored content more explicitly, recently making examples out of social media powerhouses such as L’Oréal and Aimee Song (of popular fashion blog Song of Style) for not properly disclosing content. While not as blatant in making an example of luxury brands, the UK regulatory agency ASA also recently published more explicit guidelines for YouTube vloggers, outlining the obligation they have to make promoted content and sponsors more plainly clear.

Meanwhile, however, the data doesn’t lie. Many brands are finding content created from influencer collaborations consistently outperforms its in-house content. Furthermore, it’s produced at a fraction of the cost of the once-standard, multimillion-dollar photo-shoots with celebrity photographers, where the outcome is often better suited for print.

A photo posted by Susie Lau (@susiebubble) on

Yet, as emerging mass brands like Brandy Melville rely entirely on them, the temptation is strong for luxury brands to become too invested and drunk off influencer campaigns, given the strong response the content receives on social channels. If recent critiques and headlines from the old fashion guard are any indication, luxury brands walk a tightrope of perception collaborating with influencers.

With the exception of newly adorned style saviour Alessandro Michele’s spring/summer 2017 presentation for Gucci, much of what defined the recent Milan Fashion Week was not the clothes, but rather a proclamation from industry bible Vogue against influencer culture.

In their respective recap of the week, various editors voiced their annoyance on influencers and style bloggers soiling any air of prestige in Milan, and how brands such as Versace and others should be praised for not giving into a trend, whilst deeming the influencer and blogger presence at some shows “horrible” and “pathetic”.

While influencer elite BryanBoy and Susie Bubble were almost instantaneous in their rebuttals on their own social media channels, calling it hypocrisy and old school “bullying”, it epitomised just how polarising yet poignant the issue has become within the industry.

Influencer marketing, like fashion, is not a one size fits all approach. As the practice continues to gain momentum and varying levels of acceptance across the industry as a whole, it should be an increased priority for each brand’s creative and social teams to better define how influencers contribute to the balance of honouring brand heritage and driving the bottom line.

As tempting as the bandwagon may be, brands still should be highly selective in whom they seek out to collaborate with. This even more so if the said brands are seeking to maintain (or attempt to attain) “luxury” status: a construct today’s social culture and influencers are helping redefine with every new post and engagement.

Glenn Ebert is senior strategist at SapientNitro. Comment Counts is a series of opinion pieces from experts within the industry. Do you have something to say? Get in touch via


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What you missed: luxury data, Mr Porter and Apple TV, the store of the future

Mr Porter Apple TV fashion digital data
Mr Porter on Apple TV

On to Paris Fashion Week and things have certainly been quieter on the digital and technology front. The furore around bloggers and editors continues (yawn), while a little ray of hope shines through in Intel’s partnership with Hussein Chalayan.

On top of that this past week has been everything from why the store of the future doesn’t want to actually sell anything, the new Mr Porter x Apple TV app launch, and the fact even Chanel and Hermès are struggling in the current climate.

  • Private data is the ultimate luxury good [Motherboard]
  • Mr Porter launches ‘first of its kind’ shoppable Apple TV app [The Drum]
  • Intel brings wearable technology to Hussein Chalayan’s Paris Fashion Week show [Forbes]
  • Why the store of the future actually doesn’t want to sell you anything [LeanLuxe]

  • Ralph Lauren maps out ‘way forward’ for global growth [BrandChannel]
  • Even Chanel and Hermès susceptible to current climate [BoF]
  • ASOS investigation claims to expose the ‘true cost’ of fast fashion [Huffington Post]

  • How Garance Doré and the street style revolution upended fashion with a camera and a blog [Wired]
  • This Snapchat game from Under Armour turns you into a NFL star [AdWeek]

  • Kevin Hart and David Beckham take a fun, disastrous road trip for H&M [AdWeek]

  • More than 50% of shoppers turn first to Amazon in product search [Bloomberg]
  • New York is full of shopkeepers who swear by cash registers that are little more than glorified adding machines [WSJ]
  • How marketing automation can help your omni-channel strategy [The Industry]

  • Every Fossil Group designer wearable launched in 2016 so far, including Michael Kors, Kate Spade and more [Wareable]
  • Long Tall Sally creates mannequin based on 3D scan of actual customer [The Industry]

  • Where to invest in fashion technology? [Luxury Daily]
  • Armarium and Net-a-Porter team to pair clothing rentals with purchases [Glossy]
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Google is making street style fashions shoppable in new LiketoKnow.It partnership

Shoppable street style on Google thanks to LiketoKnow.It’s content integration

In today’s social media age there’s an endless stream of content being uploaded across multiple platforms every day. For the 10,000 influencers who use blogger monetization network, rewardStyle and its Instagram shopping tool, there are at least 1,000 daily street style posts being shared on Instagram alone.

Some of those names are the most influential in the fashion game, which not only makes that content increasingly important, but explains why Google GOOGL -0.64% would want to get its hands on it from a search perspective. As it stands, it doesn’t have a way to index any of those images, let alone the information that comes with them – much of what’s on Instagram and indeed on Snapchat or even Pinterest is locked within those platforms.

And so Google has teamed up with LiketoKnow.It to power a new “Shop the Look” tool that pulls in shoppable influencer content. “Google came to us in the spring of this year understanding how much is happening in these closed social channels. It knew if it wanted to be competitive it had to leverage that content,” explains Amber Venz-Box, president and co-founder of rewardStyle.

Head over to Forbes to find out more, including exactly what that means for the user and the specifics of the duo’s additional partnership around fashion week season.

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Shoppable Snapchat? Popsugar launches workaround e-commerce tool

Popsugar’s Emoticode links on Snapchat make it shoppable

Popsugar has found a way to make Snapchat shoppable, introducing a companion app that enables users to screenshot what they want to buy.

Emoticode, as it’s called, allows brands and bloggers to convert URLs into shortened links that feature emojis in the first two characters. They can then include those in their Snapchat stories, or indeed their Instagram posts. Once someone screenshots them and opens the resulting image back in the Emoticode app it decodes them into clickable links once more.

Like some of the existing third-party social shopping apps for Instagram already out there, it’s somewhat of a clunky process, but it’s a workable one at this stage.

Popsugar, does of course also own e-commerce site ShopStyle, which acts as the foundation for bloggers to use these emoticodes to monetise their social posts. The business model is therefore an affiliate one – Popsugar will take 15% of each sale that occurs. Launch brands also include Uniqlo, Nordstrom and Sephora.

“It was clear that people wanted to take action from our snaps and it wasn’t as easy as it could be. The lightbulb went off,” PopSugar’s CEO, Brian Sugar, told Digiday. “It works for shopping. It will work for recipes, workouts, articles, really anything you want to engage more with beyond a snap or an Instagram post.

Businesses using the emoticodes will also be able to measure ROI – monitoring clicks, orders, revenue and conversion rate. The codes can also be used on the ShopStyle and ShopStyle Collective apps and so far in the US, UK, Australia, Germany and France.

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#Turnmeon: Instagram’s algorithm changes have fashion brands in a tizzy too


You may have noticed your Instagram feed becoming inundated with images encouraging you to “turn on post notifications” over this past weekend.

Variations of instructional script pointing to the three little dots in the upper right hand corner appeared predominantly from bloggers and influencers in a bid to encourage followers to receive an alert to their phones every time new posts are created.

Fashion brands including Net-a-Porter, Gucci and BCBG Max Azria also posted something similar. “Don’t miss a thing! Turn on our post notification and stay in the loop!” wrote BCBG alongside an image of two models taking a selfie topped with a scripted prompt (as above). Net-a-Porter opted for simple white text on a black background, while Gucci posted several images from its watches campaign with just the copy guiding followers to click.

Head over to Forbes for the full rundown on why that’s happening, what users have to say about it and how to otherwise combat the algorithmic changes being proposed by Instagram.

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Asos relaunches members-only platform as mobile-first, focused on education


Asos HQ dispatched 1,300 shiny parcels last week and it had absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. The free gifts were instead part of a campaign to celebrate the relaunch of Access All Asos.

#AccessAllAsos, as it’s known, is a members-only platform where the UK-headquartered e-commerce site communicates and collaborates with a small selection of brand advocates. These “insiders” (including bloggers Laila Daho, Olivia Purvis and Robin James) get things like early access to new product and invites to brand events. In return, they inevitably provide thoughts and feedback to the company, as well as share all things Asos with their own growing fanbases.

While decreased activity in the program of late suggested the e-tailer was intending to abandon it, it turns out it was instead undergoing a dramatic makeover.

Central to those plans is its relaunch initially as a mobile-only platform, which is testament to its commitment to developing and expanding its mobile offering, and evidence of the intended millennial userbase. Unsurprisingly, a core part of the Asos strategy going forward is “to offer a totally optimised digital experience on any device”.


Collaboration remains a key part of the all-new #AccessAllAsos but there’s also a distinct shift towards education. The University of Asos has been introduced, which aims to give users “the tools you need to grow your media savvy”. Rather than inspiring influencers and ambassadors with the standard freebies, this is about offering its loyal members the opportunities to gain new skills as well as exposure around building their own businesses.

This change of direction was also reflected in the selection of gifts Asos sent out in those shiny parcels, including new notebooks, pencil sets and a book on how to speak emoji.

Watch this space for further news: a spokesperson at Asos told us to expect a lot more with the initiative in 2016.

Images via @phasesofrobyn and @leebenecke

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Infographic: Bloglovin’ data shows key blog search terms by country

Fashion is the most popular blog subject in Spain, couture in France, and weddings in Canada. That’s according to data from blog discovery platform Bloglovin’, which analysed the top search terms from its userbase in 96 countries.

The research took into account 750,000 searches made on the platform each month between July 1 and September 30, 2015, with a resulting infographic depicting the most interesting and versatile of the terms.


Some other highlights include yoga in Italy, interiors in South Korea, crochet in New Zealand and tattoos in Argentina. Meanwhile, the UK is searching for vegan and the US is all about travel.

The Bloglovin’ team put the latter down to the fact 68 million Americans travelled abroad in 2014, which is a record for the country. In terms of blog searches, they’re favouring this kind of inspiration over say fashion or food.

Josh Fischer, Bloglovin’s VP of product, explains: “What was interesting was the emergence of other more ‘lifestyle’ topics such as fitness, yoga, family and travel. A common trajectory we see for many bloggers is that they start out primarily talking about what they wear, but as they build an audience, people want to know more about them as a person; where they vacation, how they stay fit, etc.”

He says the data is useful for brands and content creators alike when planning on a global level, because it shows what resonates the most in different markets.

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Digital snippets: Breaking up with the Apple Watch, NY or London as fashion-tech capital, Ted Baker opens virtual store

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech…


  • Vanessa Friedman: Why I’m breaking up with the Apple Watch [NY Times]
  • New York vs London: which is the world’s fashion-tech capital? [BoF]
  • Ted Baker experiments with virtual reality as digital concept store opens in Shoreditch [The Drum]
  • Net-A-Porter moves into profit after a year of digital innovation [Internet Retailing]
  • Bonobos profiting from surge in online menswear sales [The Street]
  • Avon Ladies learn to tweet, embrace e-commerce [Digiday]
  • Knyttan, a customisable knitwear start-up, gets investors’ seal of approval [Fashionista]
  • Why Amazon’s drone delivery is growing trickier [CNBC]
  • 3-D printing will fix the way we order shoe sizes [PSFK]
  • This high-tech hijab will literally make Muslim women cooler [BuzzFeed]
  • Why ‘buy’ buttons will pose big Challenges for Google, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter [re/code]
  • Real-time strategies essential element of retail rehaul: report [Luxury Daily]
  • ShopStyle banks on bloggers, relaunches influencer network [WWD]
  • How a mole in the tech sector is helping shape the look of ‘Silicon Valley’s’ women [LA Times]