What is a WeChat Mini Program, And Can Your Brand Make Use of One?

With over 1.1 billion daily users WeChat is China’s most important social media platform - read our previous blog to find out why luxury brands need to be using it.

Once your brand has successfully set up an official WeChat account, the next step towards increasing your digital presence is to develop a Mini Program.

Launched in 2017, Mini Programs effectively work as a separate app, but operate within another, larger, app. These lightweight micro apps are accessible without download and are often available offline. Currently, there are over 2.3 million Mini Programs within WeChat, including games, life-style mini-apps, blogs, and e-commerce sites. With over 350 million daily active users, Mini Programs are a powerful way of monetising WeChat, an otherwise expensive Program, through social commerce.

The beauty of Mini Programs is that they combine social media and sales into one smooth customer journey. It’s not surprising that 95% of e-commerce brands have developed a Mini Program - they integrate directly with WeChat pay, making the payment process incredibly simple.

Remember that the key to an effective Mini Program is simplicity. Ideally, they should be sleek, easy to use, and with one clear function. McDonald’s does an excellent job, segmenting functions into 5+ separate Mini Programs, accessed through one main launch page.

Mcdonald’S Mini Program
Mcdonald’S Mini Program

Brands can use Mini Programs for social commerce in multiple ways. Mini Programs are a highly effective way to launch a limited edition product that requires additional storytelling. Balenciaga’s Popup Mini Program was used to test the market by launching single limited edition items and creating an air of mystery as individual images and snippets of information were posted on their WeChat official account.

Balenciagas Mini Program
Balenciagas Mini Program

Mini Programs also offer a great way to launch in a lean and scalable manner. Take MAC, who launched their MAC X HOK collection through a Mini Program, using their collaboration with a popular girl band to reach a new generation of consumers.

Mac X Hok
Mac X Hok

Brands can also create a more permanent Mini Program store to act as an additional, or even primary sales, channel. L’Oreal Paris uses its store to highlight best-sellers, provide an O2O booking system for makeup services, live-stream fashion shows, and offer tester and sample giveaways in exchange for customer data.

L’Oreal Paris Mini Program
L’Oreal Paris Mini Program

Our Walpole WeChat Report 2020 revealed that some 40% of Walpole members with WeChat accounts have linked their accounts to a Mini Program. The number actively selling through WeChat remains relatively low, but in some cases, additional functionality has been added. To access the full dataset, download the report here.

The report also highlights some of the best examples of WeChat Mini Program used in the luxury sector. Johnstons of Elgin has successfully developed a Mini Program that operates as a fully localised WeChat store offering curated selections of seasonal collections, as well as limited edition products. Payments are taken through WeChat Pay and fulfilment is carried out by local Chinese partner.

Johnstons Of Elgins Mini Program
Johnstons Of Elgins Mini Program

Burberry’s May 2019 campaign, launched on 5/20 (China’s second Valentine’s Day – the characters for ‘5’, ‘2’ and ‘0’ when read aloud sound similar to ‘I love you’) coincided with the release of its new Monogram product range. Alongside highly localised, creative WeChat content, readers were directed to a beautifully designed Mini Program game, integrated with Burberry’s WeChat store for a seamless user experience.

Burberry Monogram
Burberry Monogram
Burberrys Mini Program
Burberrys Mini Program

Every retail brand will at some point need to build and integrate a Mini Progam if they are serious about the Chinese market.

How to set up a Mini Program:

We can help you explore template-based applications to overcome high development costs, develop more advanced functionality and data analysis, and consider VIP schemes and booking engines to help your brand drive O2O engagement.

If you'd like to book a consultation with one of our China market specialists to understand how you can develop or improve a WeChat Mini Program, please reach out.

This article is part of a series highlighting the key findings of the TONG Walpole WeChat Report 2020. Watch this space for our next posts and upcoming events, which will cover sector-specific insights.

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