The following is an excerpt from Jing Daily’s market report Big in China: brand cooperation. Packed with in-depth breakdowns of the top revenue-generating collaboration trends for brands, retailers and more, the report is a must-read for anyone looking to engage China’s most influential luxury consumers. Get your copy today on our reports page.
Given the popularity of digital collectibles among young Chinese consumers, it’s no surprise that collaborations can significantly raise their public profile. This is especially true for emerging IPs looking to quickly increase their brand awareness. For example, in April 2022, Chinese sportswear brand 361 Degrees collaborated with local art toy brand Fatko on a series of five collectible figures wearing 361 Degrees outfits.
Consumers could obtain the collectibles by purchasing two items of clothing from the featured series either online or offline. Alternatively, they could enter an online lottery by posting pictures of themselves with 361 products in the comments section of the brand’s Weibo with the hashtag “My picture with 361”.
This online engagement strategy was a success, with the hashtag receiving 4.2 million views and the “361 Degrees debuts digital collectibles” hashtag receiving 41.4 million cumulative views on Weibo.
Independent designers who want to promote their work as much as possible can also turn to NFT collaborations to gain public exposure. For example, Chinese streetwear designer Chi Lei, also known as DrCHI, collaborated with Chinese streetwear brand Definex to release a tiger-themed collection, which launched in February 2022.
The collection included 1,000 digital collectibles depicting the same tiger from the physical collaboration jacket, with consumers able to purchase the collectible by buying the jacket online or paying more than 200 yuan (approx.
The digital collectible was also featured in Tmall’s new Have Something (有点东西) section dedicated to branded digital collectibles. The hashtag “Chi Lei Collaboration” has totaled 17 million views on Weibo. Similarly, Chinese art toy brand BuerBear collaborated with modern day calligrapher Zhu Jingyi on a series of 300 limited edition bear toys depicting Zhu’s calligraphy. Each bear contains a built-in NFC (near field communication) chip, allowing any buyer to claim a digital collectible.
Partnering with a well-known brand or IP can quickly expand an independent designer’s public exposure. Even if the collectibles only generate a limited amount of revenue or are gifted, such collaborations are an increasingly popular way for designers to reach China’s highly digital young consumers.
However, for brands, the “reverse” strategy – converting NFTs into physical products – can also be successful, although “real” NFTs are not allowed to be issued in China.
A prominent example of this is Chinese sportswear giant Li-Ning. In April 2022, Li-Ning Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) licensed #4102 as the “face” of a new motorcycle and frisbee-themed collection with BAYC #4102 as the central design element. To promote and sell the collection, Li-Ning held a
Yang Guang, head of Li-Ning’s BAYC project, admitted in an interview that it “took a reverse approach: we materialized a virtual IP and gave it real-life value.” Yang explained that cooperation is key for Li-Ning to win the hearts and minds of young Chinese consumers:
“(Although) there are few people who really understand the metaverse and Web 3.0, they have sufficient appeal at the advertising level… When it comes to brands and NFTs, attitude is key: as long as it’s attractive to young consumers or us allows communication with them, we are ready to understand this as soon as possible.”
Get your copy of Big in China: brand cooperation today on our reports page.