How did Chinese brands handle International Women’s Day?

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One week on from this year’s International Women's Day, it’s interesting to take a quick look back at how Chinese brands approached the annual event.

The Nike campaign aimed to send a motivational message to all women.

女神节 nushenjie ("Goddess' Day") or 女王节 nuwangjie ("Queens' Day") in China, is an important day to recognise women's achievements and to bring gender equality issues to attention. This day provides an opportunity for brands to start mature conversations around important cultural and social problems embedded in the Chinese society in which men have traditionally been favoured, and are still to this day in many respects above women. It also provides a platform to engage with the "she-economy", a term used to stress the growing purchasing power of Chinese female consumers. Indeed, according to a study conducted by Guotai Junan Security, female consumption in China is expected to hit 4.5 trillion yuan this year.

In a society such as the Chinese, gender stereotypes and newly evolving gender roles co-exist. Thus, to successfully reach the women target market, brands need to offer a more empowered and relevant narrative to respect the various facets of female consumers. Let's now explore how brands gave a voice to women on this day.

“你今年多大了?” by OLAY

“How old are you this year?” is the question asked by the American skin care line Olay to 18 key opinion leaders (KOLs) in its Women’s Day short video. Although age scares most the women, Olay sends a very strong message: in Olay’s story, a number does not define a women’s age, rather her achievements and her stories do.

The success of Olay campaign, which reached 168,887 shares on Weibo, can be put down to its winning marketing message: Olay was able to identify the problem experienced by its target market, which is that women feel their age limits their ability to pursue their own beliefs. Olay encourages and motivates women, because after all: age is just a number.

“My Statement #MyCalvin” by Calvin Klein

For Women’s Day 2019, Calvin Klein promoted its new campaign “My Statement #MyCalvin”, which depicts unique stories of Asian celebrities in search of their gender identities.

The gender issue is a sensitive and difficult topic to tackle in the Chinese society. However, the stories were told in an intimate way, and through a subtle message in its advert, Calvin Klein managed to create compelling content able to challenge gender norms and showcase diversity.

“做他的公主?做自己的女王” by Jeep

This year, global car brand Jeep launched a short video targeted at female consumers. The snappy title of “his princess? My own queen” answers the question “who are you today?” with a pretty straightforward: “I am who I want to be”.

Jeep’s campaign champions the belief that women can choose who they are, independent of societal norms, an important message with the power to able to influence consumers’ feelings towards the brand.

“做自己,美有道理” by Watson

Chinese drug store Watsons released a series of short videos as part of their Women’s Day campaign. They tell the stories of four Chinese women and their lives in roles dictated by the Chinese society. However, there is always a happy ending, and at the heart of these stories lie the women’s ability to choose their own path in life.

By firmly addressing issues embedded in the Chinese system and giving a new look at evolving roles in China, Watsons’ campaign has been able to successfully captivate the attention of its audience.

“耐克:不安分女生到底能多精彩?” by Nike

For IWD 2019, Nike released a short video that puts the stories of five fearless female champions, and the challenges they went through to become the successful women they are now, in special focus.

Besides launching a very strong and motivational message to all the women, Nike, by precisely choosing ambassadors with high personality fit, not only strengthened brand personality, but was also able to enhance brand awareness and distinctiveness.

All in all, around this year’s Women’s Day, many brands were able to establish an emotional connection with their female Chinese target market. By providing compelling content which shifted attention from a simplification or feminisation of products to a more empowered narrative looking at the challenges women in China are facing, brands were able to optimise their impact and provide an effective marketing strategy.

Valentina Frigerio is a research associate at Qumin

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