According to Statista, WeChat penetration in Singapore is approximately at 24% as of the 3rd quarter of 2017. With a population of about 5.6 million, WeChat Singapore users stand at about 1.3 million, of which, I personally estimates that about half are users who are from China, or rather, Weixin users (the Chinese version of WeChat).
Also, Chinese visitor arrivals increased 22% year-on-year to 2.1 million in 2015, and they are the top spenders among the visitors in Singapore, with more than SGD2.54 billion spent per year.
Since half a decade ago, Singapore businesses have been trying to reach this lucrative market and below are 5 companies that have started on some initiatives to reach the Chinese audience, either in Singapore or China.
Orchard Road Business Association (Orba)
The Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) established their WeChat account in 2016 to promote the shopping district directly to the consumers in China and boost the flagging retail and tourism sectors.
Besides sending teams to different cities in China regularly to promote their street, setting up a WeChat account was their next best alternative. According to Steven Goh, Orba’s executive director, it is impossible to communicate or reach the Chinese audience in China without an official corporate WeChat account.
With a WeChat account, Orba has been promoting Orchard Road as a prime spot for shopping and F&B two times a week, with various attractive deals from familiar brands that appeal to the Chinese consumers. They have also used the account to highlight their annual Christmas light up event at Orchard Road, pushing out related promotions a few months in advance for tourists to have enough time to plan a holiday to Singapore. Storytelling, or rather, pushing out useful content, is definitely what worked and will work for Orba now and in future.
But they definitely realised that managing WeChat is a long-term project and there remains the efforts needed to generate more online traffic and build up the number of followers so that there can be significant awareness and finally revenue created for the various brands along the street.
A bunch of retailers from ION Orchard shopping mall had partnered with FOMOPay in one WeChat marketing campaign termed the “WeChat Shake” (摇一摇) campaign over the Golden Week in China, a 7-day holiday in October yearly.
WeChat Singapore users could exchange for free gifts and get good discounts from participating retailers in ION Orchard such as Lee Hwa Diamond, Shu Uemura, Belif, Carven, CommonThread, Fresh, Nespresso, Origins, Skin Inc, Timberland, Proof, Diane von Furstenberg and Calvin Klein Platinum. They were notified of the campaign through posters placed outside each individual stores and coupons can be obtained by scanning the QR code on the poster or shaking their WeChat.
WeChat Shake, a popular function in WeChat that helps offline retailers get the attention of consumers that are about 20 metres near their stores, uses the iBeacon technology, a Bluetooth device that let mobile apps detect the WeChat user’s physical location. This function allows businesses to increase their store traffic and conversion rates without spending much on publicity or advertising.
Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore
Shangri-La Hotel Singapore is the first hotel in Singapore to engage their guests in Asia with WeChat in September 2014, launching a “Share and Win” campaign to encourage WeChat Singapore users to share the news of this initiative and stand to win a one-night stay in the Garden Wing Pool View Room with breakfast for two. Mechanism is very simple, just follow Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore on WeChat, share their page through the Moments tab and recommend it through a group chat to be entitled to a chance to win the prize.
With this campaign, WeChat users are able to book hotel rooms or dining appointments, learn about special promotions, find out more about the hotel’s facilities or more after subscribing to Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore’s WeChat official account.
This is also the hotel’s first-ever effort to bring their consumers in China closer to their product by engaging with them in a platform that they are comfortable with, strengthening their commitment to both business or leisure travellers from across the region.
According to Louis Song, country manager for WeChat Singapore and Malaysia, the campaign saw users booking hotel stays directly from WeChat, and contests being launched from their official WeChat account, followed by more campaigns during major festivals such as Christmas and New Year.
In September 2017, StarHub, Singapore’s second largest telecommunications company, partnered with WeChat to launch a new SIM card that will offer travellers unlimited WeChat messages for Chinese tourists in Singapore.
Tourists can buy the prepaid SIM card before they leave China, from travel agencies online like Toncheng Tourism, Mafengwo and Qyer.com, or when they reach Singapore at Changi Airport, 7-Eleven outlets and StarHub stores in Singapore.
This is the first time that StarHub SIM cards are being marketed directly to tourists from China. The idea was to provide WeChat Singapore tourists with enough data to stay in touch with their family and friends without worrying about incurring excess local data charges. StarHub plans to add options such as extra data and validity extension that visitors can pay for by credit card or WeChat Pay.
Zalora Singapore stepped into the WeChat world in November 2014, with the launch of their official WeChat account and their “ILoveZALORA” campaign on Singles’ Day, where the first 1,000 users who followed Zalora on their WeChat account and sent a text “ILoveZALORA” will win Zalora vouchers worth S$11, with no minimum spent required.
WeChat Singapore users can connect with the brand through the WeChat official account, and keep up with the latest fashion news and promotions from Zalora, and easily navigate through its online shopping app using built-in keyword shortcuts, all within WeChat itself.
This partnership had opened up a whole new shopping experience for WeChat Singapore users. Zalora hopes that with the new collaboration, it will help in their customer engagement and will let them reach Chinese consumers easily.
Other WeChat Singapore Official Accounts
Other companies that have hopped onto the WeChat bandwagon includes tourist attractions such as Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands, as well as Easy Taxi and Lianhe Zaobao, all of whom launched official accounts in an attempt to reach out to potential Chinese consumers, and also in response to the rapid expansion of WeChat users in Singapore. Something of interest, Zaobao actually launched six different WeChat official accounts with a channel focused on a particular type of content such as food, travel and so on.
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