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  • Writer's pictureAkina Wong

A growing interest in fragrances among Chinese Gen Z - not just because of the smell

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

It has been the end of an era when the Chinese thought there is no need for fragrances because they do not smell bad. As Gen Z and Millennials taking over the market in China, such products have become a medium for these young consumers to express their individuality and personality. The functional benefits of fragrances are not the top selling point for brands anymore, as Dao Nguyen suggested on The Future of C-Beauty webinar hosted by Jing Daily.

The founder of a beauty and fragrance brand in China also highlighted the increasing sophistication of China’s Gen Z consumers as to searching for information. Ye Chen, a senior research analyst at the think-tank ChemLinked, seconded the idea, adding social media has helped boost Chinese consumers’ exposure to foreign fragrance products.

While homegrown brands are advantageous in the knowledge of Chinese culture and understanding how to speak to their fellow consumers, foreign brands are gearing up to collaborate with Chinese celebrities and leverage the power of KOLs in succeeding in Chinese market through the digital realm.

Among them is Chanel, the French luxury fashion house that brings its flagship No. 5 perfume through an offline exhibition known as Sense Chanel. The campaign joins forces with a total of nine brand ambassadors, including the internationally acclaimed Chinese actress Zhou Xun, the Hong Kong actor William Chan and Wang Yibo, a popular Chinese actor and a member of the Chinese-South Korean boy group UNIQ.

The immersive environment goes beyond smell and activates all senses with a romantic and mysterious ambience. Having featured 18 paintings that represent its perfume collections, the campaign video also showcases the individuality in its products. And by having a slightly different colour in the background of each individual’s part in the video, it indicates the uniqueness of these celebrities and allows the value of personality to run through the campaign.

Having found this “emotional touchpoint”, this campaign has drawn more than 9.8 million engagements, including 4.3 million likes and over 4.7 million forwards. With 17 million views, the video has generated 1.1 million voices.

The team of celebrities, who are also top-tier KOLs, has unsurprisingly been the main driver of this effective delivery. With several of them seen in the top 10 mentions in the brand’s content on Weibo, Chanel achieved an overall SOV (Share of Voices) at 60.3% during the campaign.

China has shown its potential for fragrance consumption as 60.5% of its post-90s are perfume consumers with 51.5% of them using such products on daily basis in the year of 2020, according to a report by LeadLeo. Identifying an “emotional touchpoint” has been a challenge for most of foreign brands when marketing in China, as 30.7% of Chinese consumers willing to pay for products out of the sense of resonance.

Having understood the changing views on fragrances among Chinese Gen Z, Chanel skilfully incorporates Chinese consumers’ pursuits of individuality and personality into its campaign. While it also smartly leveraged celebrity KOLs in building up a sense of connection and in disseminating its brand voice to the young generation through digital marketing.

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