Sunspel: Bringing British Style to China
How Influencer Marketing Can Help Your Brand Crack China
The menswear sector continues to grow steadily in China, thanks to the increasing spending power of male consumers. Menswear sales are expected to reach over 590 billion RMB in 2020. The influence of social media has encouraged many men to invest more in fashion to express their individuality and personality. However, the increasing saturation of the market makes it difficult for brands to compete, meaning strong brand storytelling is more important than ever.
Sunspel’s specialism in everyday luxury essentials appeals to a growing interest in simple and easy-to-match high-quality essentials among male Chinese consumers. China’s maturing and dynamic consumer base is increasingly interested in heritage and craftsmanship, putting British brand Sunspel and their 160 years of experience in an excellent position.
Having identified the opportunities available in China, Sunspel wanted to start building their presence in China’s e-commerce sector but like many companies new to the market, they were unsure where to begin. We were tasked with running their full market launch into China, including building a WeChat store, handling logistics and creating a strong brand image. In order for Sunspel to stand out amongst the fierce competition, we maintained a unified and consistent brand identity across Chinese platforms. We’re really proud of the beautiful content we've created (and continue to create) for Sunspel, which allows Chinese shoppers to engage with and understand the brand’s 160-year-old story.
Working closely with Sunspel, we created and ran their official WeChat and Weibo accounts, along with a WeChat store. We managed every aspect of their presence in China, including producing organic content, handling customer service, and facilitating sales. Building on their existing brand identity in the UK, we produced content that expressed Sunspel's story in a consistent manner, aimed specifically to engage and connect with Chinese consumers.
In order to make the sales process as seamless as possible for customers, we built an integrative WeChat store for Sunspel. This store has successfully seen the launch of the AW19 and SS20 collections, with country-specific curated posts. The store has seen strong sales that continue to increase as Chinese consumers gain in confidence as COVID-19 comes under control.
Starting in June 2019, we’ve successfully grown Sunspel’s Weibo official account to 2341 followers, with an additional 1640 followers on WeChat. Although we saw a good level of organic growth, we used influencers to promote the account - an effective method of standing out in China’s highly competitive social commerce sector. We continue to augment organic follower growth with targeted influencer campaigns, for example, giveaways in which fans followed Sunspel’s WeChat Official account to be entered into the prize draw. See below for detailed examples of our influencer campaigns.
We have coordinated several influencer collaborations for Sunspel, using our deep knowledge of Chinese social channels to ensure we find the right KOLs. For Sunspel, we focussed on finding influencers with the right style, looking at their previous brand deals to make sure they were of a similar luxury nature. Our key aim is to find influencers who are passionate about the brand and will convey that to their followers. Of course, our belief in tracking and transparency meant we paid close attention to KPIs with these campaigns and reported them back to Sunspel.
CKverymuch is a WeChat influencer with whom we’ve cultivated a long term relationship. Based in Shenzhen, she creates high-quality content about beauty, skincare and fashion. Her boyfriend works in finance in Hong Kong, and as such represents one of Sunspel’s target groups: young professionals. They produced a couples photoshoot wearing Sunspel’s classic white tee, which not only looked great but had the added benefit of tapping into the trend for unisex clothes that’s currently popular in China. Alongside this content, we ran a giveaway of the classic white tee, in which her fans followed Sunspel's WeChat account in order to be in with a chance of winning.
Ray is a popular male influencer on WeChat, whose content usually focuses on fitness, fashion and lifestyle. His Sunspel-collab article focused on showcasing popular British gentlemen, such as Tom Holland and Henry Cavill. He chose some hero pieces from Sunspel and modelled them, along with storytelling about Sunspel’s uniquely British heritage. Over 200 people followed Sunspel through the giveaway QR code included in this article.
Tanliren is one of a growing number of Chinese influencers based in London. We find that working with UK based influencers can be really effective, as not only is it easy to send products and invite them to offline events, but they’re followers are usually high-income younger people with an interest in British culture. Tanliren was really inspired by the brand, and chose two pieces from Sunspel’s AW2019 collection – to model on both WeChat and Weibo. He liked the clothes - so much he even included them in an additional free Weibo post!
Zelax is a rare breed: a male influencer on Little Red Book. Our experienced account manager reached out to him personally, as his style was a perfect match for Sunspel. He modelled some Sunspel pieces in Beijing to curate posts for both Weibo and Little Red Book, which garnered over 1,000 likes. We were really pleased when he collated the photos into a video for Douyin (known in the West as Tiktok) which got over 250k impressions!
Working with a range of carefully selected influencers has helped establish Sunspel as a luxury heritage brand in China. KOL collaborations are an effective way for brands to boost their presence in China and engage with a targeted audience. If you're interested in working with Chinese influencers, but aren't sure where to start, please reach out.