Does Coach’s experience with Tmall offer livestreaming lessons for U.S. retailers?
Sheena Butler-Young, senior correspondent for Business of Fashion, on Monday took to the NRF Big Show stage to moderate a robust session with Renee Klein, vice president of global digital experience and customer marketing at Coach, and Mei Chen, director of fashion and luxury North America, UK and Northern Europe at Alibaba Group – globalization business.
The discussion covered a host of innovative strategies Coach has implemented through its partnership with Alibaba’s Tmall Luxury Pavilion. Especially noteworthy: holiday-edition assortments and livestreaming.
Ms. Klein explained that Coach launches livestream content scheduled around, and relevant to, individual Chinese holidays, which has proven largely successful with consumers. She and Ms. Chen shared a list of several significant dates with commercial implications for retailers and they made a point of mentioning that the list, though lengthy, was by no means exhaustive.
Given how much weight is placed in the states on retailers’ Q4 numbers, perhaps even U.S. brands outside of the luxury arena could embrace more holiday-centric innovation beyond the usual deep-discounting approach and spread that innovation more frequently throughout the whole year.
Much of the conversation was dedicated to the livestreaming techniques woven into these campaigns to ensure not only engagement, but conversion. Ms. Chen emphasized that while the West often taps “influencers,” for livestreaming, what drives the most impact in the East is the fact that brands tend to rely on “Key Opinion Leaders” (KOLs). KOLs are not necessarily the personalities with the most followers, but the ones with dedicated fans due to the niche knowledge they possess in a particular product category. The depth of their experience in a certain space is what earns them the credibility that drives conversion among viewers.
Ms. Chen also reiterated the fact that, with Alibaba’s Tmall Luxury Pavilion technology suite, brands have opportunities to create fully customizable, unique, virtual environments for consumer engagement. 3D product visualization was a standout feature within the Tmall Luxury Pavilion destination, highlighting another key differentiator from most digital channels in the U.S. thus far. Overall, the talk offered a glimpse into the future for a shopping channel that hasn’t quite made its way mainstream in the U.S. yet, but could still be promising if retailers forge ahead.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Would a focus on key opinion leaders instead of influencers work for American retailers and brands in their social media campaigns and livestreaming? Are there opportunities for retailers to focus more on holiday-edition assortments and content throughout the year to reduce the need for discounts?