China’s social media app WeChat, or Weixin, is now the most popular service of its kind in the country, judging by the explosive consumer reaction to its Chinese New Year promotion.
WeChat, which is owned by Tencent Holdings Ltd., allowed users to send virtual “hongbao” to people on their contact lists this Chinese New Year. Traditionally, hongbao are money-filled red envelopes given out to friends and family during the Chinese New Year. In WeChat’s version, the amount of gifted money is generally small at 0.10 yuan to 100 yuan (US$0.02 to US$16.50) and can be transferred to the recipient’s bank account. The app also has a wild-card feature that asks the user to define a total amount of gifted money and a total number of recipients, though it’s up to WeChat to decide how to divide that money among the user’s contacts, according to Want China Times.
According to Tencent, “from Chinese New Year’s Eve to 4pm on the first day of the lunar calendar, January 31,” more than 5 million WeChat users sent more than 75 million e-hongbao to each other, at an average rate of 9,412 envelopes received each minute.
The incredible success of the app has ruffled some feathers, however. Tech analysts believe that the corporation sought a connection to WeChat user’s bank accounts, and found it in this Chinese New Year promotion, thereby “substantially strengthening Tencent’s ability to charge WeChat users in the future.” Analyst Bill Bishop has gone so far as to call the e-hongbao a “nightmare” for the competitor Alibaba Group’s chairman, Jack Ma.
Despite some detractors, WeChat is on a roll and is attracting companies to its platform from across the world.
Pepsi China used the app for their “Bring Happiness Home” advertising campaign, creating a feature that allows users to have recordings of their voices mixed into renditions of the Pepsi theme song to share with friends and family.
British Airways has also used the app to appeal to “social media savvy Chinese travelers.” The airline launched a Chinese New Year promotion through WeChat on January 10 and attracted more than 10,000 followers within 10 days. Its goal right now is to redirect its current 350,000 followers on Sina Weibo to WeChat and it has selected Social@Ogilvy to create a campaign for just that purpose.
British Airways’ Chinese New Year promotion also included significant giveaways. The first 2,014 followers on the new WeChat account were sent red envelopes containing a New Year’s greeting from regional CEO Tracy Dedman and a $50 promotional coupon. Three followers were also chosen at random to receive round-trip tickets to fly between China and London, tucked inside hongbao-like envelopes.
Jeremy Webb, national director from Social@Ogilvy China, says that these efforts will spark considerable consumer interest.
“Our offline-to-online approach was all about creating a shared experience that would create suspense across the community — think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but in China and with golden air tickets,” Webb said.
image credit: tecnomovida caracas