Consumers have become harder to reach through traditional advertising alone. The splashy, celebrity-filled bashes and over-the-top fashion shows are gradually losing their cachet.
These traditional forms of marketing are being replaced by practices that establish genuine connections with consumers through subtler and authentic approaches to influencing consumers. One of the most effective approaches of such is through branded content, primarily in the form of film or video infused with the brand’s presence, providing consumers an equal measure of entertainment and marketing.
Bilibili’s core value for brands is its unique and highly engaged youth-oriented community. Bilibili is a gateway to China’s young consumers and a bellwether for China’s youth culture, and a platform to build trust and affinity with young Chinese people.
“Bilibili’s key differentiator is our tight-knit, vibrant and highly engaged community, which is comprised of a great number of interest-based sub-communities with passionate users bonding with each other over shared interests. Cultivating an engaging community where every user feels a sense of belonging has always been our top priority”, said a Bilibili’s spokesperson to Retail in Asia.
Bilibili has a large and fast-growing user base. In the first quarter of 2020, we had an average of 223.0 million MAU, an increase of 30% over the same period in 2020. Bilibili’s users are young, well-educated and culturally aspiring. They are looking for and are willing to pay for high-quality content and engaging experiences. The individuals in China born from 1985 to 2009, i.e. Generation Z+, or Gen Z+, constitute the core of Bilibili’s user base. According to iResearch Report
- Over 86% of MAU were aged 35 and below in 2020.
- With the total population exceeding 452.5 million in 2020, Gen Z+ are the driving force and trend-setter of all kinds of consumptions in China.
- They are leading the way in videolization and contributed to 64.8% of the video-based market in terms of revenue in 2019.
As of 2021 Q1, Bilibili had 223 million monthly active users, which means that one in every two young people in China is a Bilibili user.
The number of beauty consumers on Bilibili specifically is increasing rapidly, along with the increasing number of beauty brands that have joined the Bilibili community.
In Q2 2020, users who have watched beauty content within a 30-day period increased by over 50% year-over-year; The number of beauty brands that launched an official account on Bilibili increased by 130% year on year.
Bilibili has built an ever-growing content ecosystem with high-quality PUGVs at its core, complemented by live broadcasting, OGVs and events. At Bilibili, content and advertising is interchangeable.
“Part of our monetization strategies is to diversify our revenue sources by expanding our VAS (Value Added Services) and advertising business,” Bilibili’s spokesperson explained.
Besides joining Bilibili with an official account and partnering with Uploaders to create branded content, there are various other ways for fashion and beauty brands to market on Bilibili. This includes performance ads, live streaming, IP partnerships, sponsoring Bilibili events and more.
In July 2020, Bilibili launched Sparkle, a platform to match Uploaders with advertisers. Brands’ repurchase rate on the Sparkle platform reached 75%. As of December 2020, the number of brands that had utilized the platform had increased by 5 times.
Based on big data from Bilibili’s platform, Sparkle provides Uploaders with services including “smart” pricing recommendations, showcasing of sample work, and access to statistics on followers and user engagement to facilitate the monetization of Uploader’s high-quality content. For advertisers, Sparkle provides targeted Uploader recommendations, data analytics and project management tools, enhancing the efficiency of content marketing while giving them direct access to some of China’s most influential content creators.
At Bilibili, content and advertising are inter-changeable. Brands can create branded content targeting a coveted cohort of young and well-educated consumers, in addition to marketing campaigns around Bilibili’s content ecosystem including PUGC, OGV, livestreaming and events. Bilibili offers international fashion and beauty brands the opportunity to take their connection with Chinese Gen Z consumers to the next level by marketing in a way that “blends in” with Bilibili’s highly engaging content and interactive community culture.
Besides traditional display ads and native ads, brands can also:
1. Directly operate a brand channel or host livestreams. The key to converting
Bilibili’s hyper-engaged community into brand evangelists is engaging with them on a genuine level, moving beyond the one-way communication of highly polished ads and formal product showcasing. Having a platform-specific content strategy is critical, which means becoming well-versed in Bilibili’s culture of memes, visuals, and music, which are all shaped by the tastes of Bilibili users.
2. Use the “Sparkle” platform to connect with Uploaders. For brands that are unfamiliar with the culture of Bilibili, an efficient entry point is to collaborate with fashion and beauty Uploaders who already create original content on the platform. Uploaders are the creative engine of Bilibili and are highly influential amongst their followers.
3. Sponsor Bilibili produced live events and shows. Bilibili hosts offline events such as an ACG-themed concert called Bilibili Macro Link and produces programs from documentaries to reality shows to Bilibili New Year’s Eve Gala. Leveraging shows and events like these are also a great way to reach Chinese Gen Z consumers. For example, this year’s Bilibili Macro Link-VR 2020, which consisted solely of virtual performers, has secured Alibaba’s Tmall as its sponsor. Sponsored by Alibaba’s group-buying and flash-sale platform Juhuasuan, Bilibili’s inaugural New Year’s Eve Gala last year was a smash hit. This year’s Bilibili New Year’s Eve Gala was sponsored by Genki Forest, a Chinese indie beverage brand popular among Chinese young people, as well as Midea Group, China Mobile and China Merchants Bank Credit Card.
4. Use Bilibili’s unique ad format, bullet chat advertising. Brands can share Bullet Chat Red Packets with viewers and create Bullet-Chat Ads in videos. Accommodating current Bilibili user behavior, both are adapted from Bilibili’s signature Bullet Chats function and are native to the video at play.
Among the brands able to leverage on Bilibili’s community engagement and seize momentum in being pioneers in the platforms are Dior, MAKE UP FOR EVER, Fendi, Nike, Clarins, Lancome, and Chando.
In June 2020, Dior became the first luxury brand to have an official channel on Bilibili. It later participated in the “Double Eleven Museum of Good Things” campaign, jointly launched by Bilibili and Alibaba’s Tmall leading up to the “Double Eleven” shopping festival. Within two weeks, 37,000 videos have been submitted under this campaign theme, amassing over 100 million views. Dior specifically released a video of a “Double Eleven” limited edition handbag, which received nearly 400,000 views.
In September, Dior also organized a “CHRISTIAN DIOR, DESIGNER OF DREAMS” exhibition in Shanghai, featuring a special show for 200 Bilibili fashion Uploaders. The Uploaders, in turn, created videos of the show with behind-the-scene brand stories, which has become a new way for luxury brands to collaborate with Bilibili.
MAKE UP FOR EVER
Launched in August 2020, Rap for Youth is Bilibili’s first self-produced music variety show. It has been a smash hit and has reached 500 million video views and inspired wide public discussion and media coverage. The theme of the show is to call for more Chinese rap artists to express themselves in their own way.
The show’s slogan, “You can rap about everything”, echoes MAKE UP FOR EVER’s brand message of “No set limits for beauty” and aligns with the cultural environment on Bilibili. In October 2020, MAKE UP FOR EVER designed a marketing campaign around Rap for Youth, including ten head leader videos in the beginning of some episodes of the show, brand exposure and product placement during the show, as well as branded videos featuring participating rappers.
In 2020 Fendi launched a very innovative and original campaign about its Peekaboo Bar across Bilibili’s personal and discovery feeds, as well as on the video page (with a redirect to the official Fendi site). It allows consumers to customize the brand’s well-known Peekaboo handbag. To reach China’s Gen-Z community, the campaign featured a comic-influenced illustration that was created by Bilibili’s in-house design team. The ad was well-received and sparked many consumer comments on this novel idea.
Livestreaming has become a staple for new product launches in China. As a response to this trend, Bilibili launched “Bilibili New Product Day”, a live- stream driven, integrated marketing solution for new product launches. Nike’s JORDAN BRAND launched JORDAN ZOOM ’92 to pay tribute to the iconic basketball shoes of the 1990s. As part of New Product Day, JORDAN BRAND launched a “90’s vintage fashion party” live stream. It not only looked back to and refreshed the retro styles of the 90’s, but also, and helped viewers gain a comprehensive understanding of the new Jordan Zoom ’92. Before the broadcast event started, more than 190,000 people signed up to watch the livestream. The total page views of the event feature page exceeded 2.6 million. The one-hour live streaming event achieved a peak popularity index of 3.3 million and generated more than 220,000 bullet chats. The total exposure of the event reached 150 million views.
Clarins was among the pioneers in joining the platform and sharing branded content through Uploaders. Among its smart moves, the collaboration with a foodie Uploader that received over 3 million video views and another with an animation Uploader, which reached over 660,000 video views.
Lancome created an exclusive gift set for Bilibili users, the Lancome x Bilibili World IP collaboration, which was sold out in 2 days.
SEE ALSO : Digital advertising in China: what’s next?
CHANDO x Bilibili Little TV IP (intellectual property) partnership delighted Bilibili users in 2020, when Chinese beauty brand CHANDO partnered with Bilibilli to create a gift set with Bilibili Little TV, an instantly-recognizable icon and IP owned by Bilibili.
The first batch of products were sold out within 10 minutes. In addition, CHANDO commissioned Uploaders to create branded content, and featured a cosmetics factory experiential booth at Bilibili World (BW). As a result, CHANDO’s overall sale from its cosmetics category grew by 80%.