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  • Writer's pictureAkina Wong

【Deep Insight】Walkthrough of building up an “Official Weibo Account” : Marketing Strategy of Tmall

Updated: Jul 24, 2021

With the sustained and rapid economic development, technology is getting more and more advanced. Consumer electronics such as smartphones, computers, and iPads are constantly being upgraded. At the same time, online shopping has become the best choice for people to shop. In the face of this money spinner, not only do merchants compete fiercely, the competition on various social platforms is also becoming increasingly cutthroat.

Tmall, the well-known online shopping app, has made a fortune on Singles' Day on November 11, 2012, with sales of CNY¥10 billion in 13 hours. After setting this world record, it won the triumph of the largest online shopping app in the country. With 100% quality assurance, refund products purchased online without providing any reason within seven days, cashback with shopping points, and many years of high-quality pre-sales and after-sales service have won a lot of fans for Tmall.

In addition to quality service, Tmall has gone the extra mile in managing social media in recent years. In the past few years, Tmall has created several peripheral accounts such as @TmallSuper Brand Day, @ Heybox, @Tmall All-Star Project (天猫全明星计划). By adopting brand new product tasting, celebrity agents, exclusive festivals, and other elements, what Tmall could achieve was more than pursuing sales volumes, it also put more emphasis on the reputation and influence of the brand, in which it succeeded in transforming sales volume into reputation.

So, how did Tmall grow from "Taobao Mall" to the leading e-commerce platform in the industry? It will be analyzed in the following, from the perspectives of the Internet environment, the three official WeChat accounts created by Tmall, and the marketing strategies they have used over the years.

[Rise in the penetration rate of social networks and the number of Internet users]

According to relevant data, social media users now spend an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes a day on social networking and messaging apps. At the beginning of 2020, more than 4.5 billion people are using the Internet, and the number of social media users has exceeded 3.8 billion. Nearly 60% of the world’s population is using the Internet.

In January 2020, the number of people using the Internet worldwide has increased to 4.54 billion, an increase of 7% from January 2019, which is around 298 million users.

Globally, there were 3.8 billion social media users in January 2020, which is an increase of more than 9% over the same period last year of 321 million new users.

Furthermore, more than 5.19 billion people in the world are using mobile phones, and the number of users has a significant rise of 124 million (2.4%) last year.

Statistics from the China Online Shopping Industry Market Outlook and Investment Forecast Analysis Report 2013-2017 show that as early as 2010, the transaction scale of China's online shopping market was already close to CNY¥500 billion, above CNY¥498 billion, accounting for 3.2% of the total retail sales of consumer goods. At the same time, the scale of online shopping users has reached 148 million, and the penetration rate among netizens has reached 30.8%.

Compared with traditional shopping methods, online shops are not limited by the business area of ​​the store, as well as not limited by time. The product information is updated more quickly. Therefore, it is easier for consumers to compare and choose their ideal products without any regional restrictions. What’s more, the development of the logistics industry has also made online shopping more convenient.

It can be said that the time between the year 2010 to 2021 is the golden development period of the online marketing industry. With the rapid increase in the number of Internet users, traditional enterprises have started to use the Internet to commence the development of online marketing. The clever Tmall has seized the opportunity and started its journey of brand marketing.

【Tmall’s Developmental History】

The “Tmall” app was born in 2008, as a comprehensive shopping website. Formerly known as "Taobao Marketplace", on the morning of January 11, 2012, Taobao Marketplace officially announced that it was renamed as “Tmall”.

In 2009, Tmall launched the Single’s Day Shopping Festival. Since the predecessor Taobao Marketplace was the main sales channel for counterfeit and pirated goods, it was a difficult situation for Tmall at that time, as it was suffering from controversy. Hence, the idea of branding appeared.

In 2010, the famous Single’s Day Shopping Festival achieved sales of CNY¥936 million on a single day. Tmall told the merchants with its own actions: I have the ability to deal with you with a 900 million business. In the subsequent Single’s Days, Tmall has kept achieving great success.

On November 26, 2018, Tmall was upgraded to “Big Tmall”, forming three major sections: Tmall Business Group, Tmall Supermarket Business Group, and Tmall Import and Export Business Unit.

In March 2019, Tmall and Sesame Credit announced that it would open “credit purchases” to all industries. Users with a Sesame score of 650 points and above could try it out for 7 days and pay after satisfaction. Up till now, “Credit Insurance” has covered nearly 50,000 items in the app.

In 2020, the total transaction volume of Tmall Single’s Day Shopping Festival from November 1 to November 11 was CNY¥498.2 billion, or about 74.1 billion U.S. dollars, and the total real-time logistics orders reached the number of 2.321 billion. Since then, more well-known e-commerce companies have been recruited in Tmall.

According to the release of the “ · 2019 Hurun Brand List”, Tmall ranked third with a brand value of CNY¥320 billion and ranked first among the top ten most valuable Chinese private brands in 2019.

【Heybox, All-Star Project and Super Brand Day】

In 2017, Tmall released the strategic product Tmall Heybox, which excavated new global products that have been launched in the market in the past 30 days, and then through the mining of Alibaba's big data, then pass through screening by buyers and experts, to select high-quality products for consumers. The purpose is to tackle the difficulties of brand owners in launching new products.

Similar to a game-like “experience service”, Tmall’s Heybox not only solves the problem of new product releases for merchants, the marketing strategy of new products release without complete selling but also facilitates merchants to debug new products, as well as helping consumers in selecting them.

The new IP All-Star Project launched by Tmall makes full use of the fan effect and celebrity economy. By collaborating with celebrities, or inviting celebrities to be brand spokespersons, their sales and influence of the brand have been improved. Besides, it is also a great opportunity for these scattered businesses to be combined, forming a “burst point” in marketing.

With the use of popular stars to enter the youth circle, the increased interactions with the audience can help to keep a stabilized group of fans. The support of fans has brought tangible sales to the products. In addition, most of the celebrities invited by the brand conform to the product tone, hence bringing out the best in each other.

After a five-year “Tmall Super Brand Day” has undergone development and retreated from its immaturity. It is now more accurately positioned at the promotion node that unites multiple merchants. Merchants participating in the event set their own “Brand Day” this year, and launch new products on the day, or carry out discount promotions on their products, plus not missing the chance to interact with their fans.

Several peripheral “official Weibo accounts” update the latest activities from time to time, so that consumers can receive information immediately, adopting elements such as brand new product tasting, celebrity agents, and exclusive festivals, what Tmall could achieve was more than pursuing sales volumes, it also put more emphasis on the reputation and influence of the brand, in which it succeeded in transforming sales volume into reputation.


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