This blog post is part of a new series of articles that we will be publishing on an ongoing basis, showing Western Brands succeeding in terms of digital marketing initiatives targeting a Chinese audience.

The first in this series shows how Harrods are capturing the Chinese market via digital channels:-

i). Sina Weibo
Harrods is currently active in engaging with a Chinese audience on Social Media channels.

For instance:-
In the run-up to Christmas last year, Harrods launched its Harrods Christmas Treasure Hunt campaign on Sina Weibo, targeting in-store Chinese tourists. The campaign involved their iconic green men hiding three Christmas gifts around the store labelled with the Sina Weibo logo. With the help of a printed Chinese-language store guide, Weibo fans and store visitors were tasked with finding each of the three locations in-store to then upload photos of themselves with the Christmas presents.

One winner was chosen to receive all three luxury gifts: a Harrods Steiff bear, a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Champagne, and an Aspinal of London luxury leather travel collection specially monogrammed with the initials of the winner.

The followers were given one clue per day on Harrods Weibo page – http://www.weibo.com/harrodslondon until the winners were selected on Christmas Eve.

Harrods have nearly 40,000 followers on Sina Weibo, and are highly active in engaging with their audience on this channel.

The campaign was aimed at both Chinese visitors to the UK as well as the significant existing UK-based Chinese population and was supported by leading Weibo travel influencers to extend brand awareness to future visitors to the UK.

Harrods is known for its early adoption of Chinese digital marketing tools: it was one of the earliest UK retailers on Weibo, and in September 2013, became the first major UK retailer to launch an official presence on WeChat.

These marketing efforts are likely to be highly beneficial to the retailer: Chinese visitor spending has already grown by 123% this year – and is expected to keep climbing.

ii). WeChat
Harrods was the first UK retailer to establish a presence on WeChat; the Instant messaging service based in China. WeChat has a user-base of over 600 million and growing.

Harrods launched on WeChat at the tail-end of 2013 and used the channel initially to give away prizes to consumers who signed up to chat with the retailer. The prizes were selected from Harrods special-edition Archive Collection.
Each of the items in the Archive Collection had a scannable QR code. Consumers who scanned the icon were brought to the download page of Harrods smartphone application where they were able to view an augmented reality video.
WeChat has a group chat feature prompted by QR codes that bring together multiple consumers who have scanned the same code for a conversation, allowing Harrods to tap into a local discussion.

iii). Mobile Apps
Harrods also recently launched its Harrods magazine and its luxury timepiece magazine iPad application in Mandarin. The apps include interviews with designers, behind-the-scenes content, photo shoots and beauty tips from leading luxury brands.

iv). In-Store Initiatives
To attract Chinese customers, Harrods has recruited over 70 Mandarin speaking in-store staff, produced Mandarin store guides and recently expanded the tax return service space to help Chinese customers process tax return forms.
Recent sales figures show that watches, jewellery, fashion and accessories are most popular with Chinese shoppers at Harrods; hence Harrods has put in considerable efforts to ensure a good portfolio for these sectors, including securing some exclusive items and special edition goods from partner brands.