As global brands seize social commerce opportunities to sell in China, their main focus falls on the increasingly digital-savvy Chinese consumers. Such consumers typically rely on the popular mega-app WeChat, a social platform with 1.2 billion users across China, for brand updates. Among numerous China e-commerce options, WeChat has emerged as the must-have growth engine for retailers’ social commerce strategies.
WeChat social commerce benefits retailers by helping them engage and build trusted, personalized, value-driven relationships with customers via private domain practices. Private domain practices also allow companies to build and maintain their own customer database to boost engagement and lower marketing acquisition costs.
However, many international retailers have yet to realize the potential benefits of social commerce. Due to the lack of guidance on how to act on WeChat’s social commerce opportunities, international retailers are increasingly outperformed by more agile competitors.
Brands are already benefiting from private domain operations in China: Seven of Helena Rubinstein’s stores that participated in the sales contest achieved RMB 1 million (USD 157,000) in sales from WeChat mini program within 30 days.
This article showcases how beauty pioneer Helena Rubinstein leverages WeChat social commerce strategies to improve performance results in this lucrative market.
Diversified campaigns appeal to high-end beauty customers
The interconnected nature of WeChat’s 1.2 billion monthly active users has led to a high volume of private traffic on the app. As a result, developing a private domain qwithin WeChat can enhance the customer journey, in turn making e-commerce efforts more efficient.
Helena Rubinstein has developed a built-in Member Club, which features a sampling club to encourage customers to engage with the HR official WeChat mini program. Customers only have to complete the HR WeChat membership registration to get 3 free quotas to try out the samples.
Customers are given specific missions, such as adding HR’s staff as a WeChat contact, to obtain more quotas. Another way Helena Rubinstein is attracting customers is through leveraging WeCom (also known as WeChat Work) to provide dedicated services. For example, featuring their beauty advisor (BA) WeCom account QR code at the bottom of the sampling club page for customers to scan to add professional beauty advisors With the sample campaigns, Helena Rubinstein can attract high-potential customers and convert them into HR members.
Helena Rubinstein’s staff position themselves as personal beauty consultants who serve as product seeding and recommendation ambassadors, and personal beauty advisors to offer prestige services as needed.
HR beauty advisors can solicit and engage with customers based on social customer relationship management (SCRM) data. Personal beauty advisors give customers an exclusive one-to-one service experience to satisfy their unique demands. Existing high-value customers benefit from the beauty advisors’ extra premium offline beauty skincare treatment services.
If customers chose to add a HR beauty advisor, the BA invites them to join WeCom groups. HR BAs also guide customers to different WeCom groups based on their SCRM data.
BAs act as group assistants to publish useful content, such as product information and skincare application tips, to group members. Due to their unique demands, each group has different rights, benefits, and content. For high-end beauty brands in particular, community building is beneficial for long-term cultivation, loyalty-building, and conversion optimization.
HR has completely migrated its CRM system and management methods to focus on the creation and management of WeCom groups. Of these, there are five main groups which have been established: Black Diamond, Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Ordinary Card, and Potential Customer.
Seizing WeChat’s social features to effectively call back customers
After reaching specific customers and establishing a private domain in WeChat, Helena Rubinstein raises customer attention and interaction in WeCom groups. With these, HR can provide new product recommendations, beauty advice, skincare science, product consultation, Q&A opportunities, differentiated treatment, marketing campaigns, and points-earning privileges based on the membership level.
Helena Rubinstein proactively improves conversion with exclusive offers in WeCom groups. Within the group chat, members receive extra benefits like exclusive rewards, product purchase tips, and limited-time gifts with purchase.
For a Queen’s Day campaign in March, HR beauty advisors presented the group-exclusive offer code in WeCom groups with the objective of increasing the loyalty of high-value customers. The offer rewarded customers who spent over a certain threshold (RMB 3,500 or USD 550) with an offline skincare treatment voucher.
As omnichannel and the WeChat ecosystem evolve, WeChat’s private domain empowers brands to expand their business boundaries, specifically targeting offline BAs. In September 2021, Helena Rubinstein launched the SmartBA sales contest project to systematically promote top-down BAs to guide customers into the private domain through Helena Rubinstein’s WeCom. The digital ecosystem enables each “beauty advisor” to apply their professional knowledge and aesthetic vision to provide customers with one-to-one personalized advisory and shopping services.
Through the BA sales contest, beauty advisors can continuously communicate with customers on WeChat and provide them with personalized services, such as appointment booking on behalf of customers.
In addition, HR initiates the “bonus + honor” double incentive mechanism in service and sales, and sets multidimensional indicators to incentivize beauty advisors in physical stores. For online users who have not yet visited a shop, Helena Rubinstein can match them with a beauty advisor in the nearest shop based on their positioning on the mini-program to provide an exclusive one-to-one consultation.
Within 30 days, 7 stores participating in the sales contest reached sales of over RMB 1 million (USD 157,000) accounting for more than 15 percent of total sales. Helena Rubinstein provides a new consumption scenario for high-end customers that have made offline purchases and brings new growth points for HR’s offline business. The contest guides BAs to break the limitations of space and time, deliver quality service to the brand’s loyal customers and approach new customers, thus promoting overall sales growth.
Activating high-value customers with first-class services in the SCRM program
Helena Rubinstein has also developed a membership program for SCRM that allows customers to accumulate and burn points. The system integrates online and offline sales data, so customers will always receive points wherever they shop.
HR develops a membership tier with high perceived value to elevate the customer experience. The brand divides membership into six tiers: Fan, Celebrity, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, and Black Diamond. Each tier has its points limit and qualifications, and comes with redemption privileges, birthday rewards, new product trials, exclusive information, campaign priority, skincare treatments, and event invitations. One of the best ways to enhance member loyalty is to redeem points. Helena Rubinstein’s points can be redeemed for a wide range of products in full-size and travel sizes.
The items redeemed with HR points are different each time and the number of points is dependent on the product. Designing gifts or prizes that can attract customer participation is crucial as it fosters a sense of belonging amongst customers and increases their likelihood of repeat purchases.
Combined with the SCRM program, HR members can make appointments for premium facial care services at offline counters. These treatments, however, are only provided to high-tier members with membership level upgrades based on purchase behavior.
Brand members who spend more than RMB 6,000 (USD 900) in a single transaction at an offline counter will receive a first-class skincare voucher. In addition, a facial treatment voucher is offered to all members after the first full-size product order purchase from any official sales channel. Among all offline skincare services, HR Exclusive Life Pearl Cellular treatment is an exclusive privilege available to reserve for Diamond Card and Black Diamond Card members only.
As such, HR’s exclusive skincare service effectively attracts repeat purchases and builds customer loyalty. The CRM program, on the other hand, is an important aspect of Helena Rubinstein WeChat’s private domain operations, which is also embedded with other functions and features to make private traffic interesting, participatory, and profitable.
Providing personalized solutions via a dedicated customer skin quiz
Helena Rubinstein differentiates brands with an individualised skin quiz in its private domain. Through this, HR not only captures the attention of customers, but also elevates customer engagement with the brand.
HR WeChat mini program integrates this skin quiz to find the perfect products for the customer’s skin condition. By applying information about customer demands, the mini-program recommends an individualized set of products for skincare routines. The products are divided according to their different skincare effects. If the customer receives a whole set of solutions, rather than a single skincare product, it will be more helpful for the brand to improve the customer unit price. For example, HR will recommend a combination of moisturizing toner, serum, facial cream, and mask for customers who have identified water-oil imbalance problems and aging concerns. Through this, HR can cultivate brand awareness and customer recognition of products as a set rather than individually.
Throughout the purchase process, and afterwards, customers are able to communicate with HR beauty advisors continuously on WeChat. The beauty advisors, in turn, provide personalized services, such as one-on-one skincare solutions to their high-end customers, resolving any questions they may have about product use and precautions, hence greatly enhancing customer experience.
Through the optimized operation of the WeChat ecosystem and the innovative mini-program gameplay linking online and offline retail, Helena Rubinstein has brought new inspiration and insights to other brands and set the standard for exceptional service and experiences.
To see how global beauty brands successfully use WeChat social commerce best practices, including private domain, to drive e-commerce sales in China, see Azoya’s new whitepaper, Capitalize on WeChat Private Domain: Best Practice 2022.