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Marketing in China goes green

The Autumn/Winter marketing campaign of AWI subsidiary The Woolmark Company in China last year utilised proven strategies that highlighted the eco-credentials of Merino wool to consumers and helped leading brands increase the sales of their wool products.

 Campaign highlight results 

  • 4,000+ participating brands
  • 525 million impressions
  • 102 million total video views
  • $122.4 million in wool sales
  • 150% increase in sales compared to pre-launch period

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Building on its successful marketing campaigns of previous years in China, The Woolmark Company’s new campaign was aimed at making Merino wool the most desirable apparel fibre for consumers in China during the recent Autumn/Winter season.

“The marketing campaign involved a two-step rollout to consumers, to first build awareness of wool’s premium natural benefits, followed by a major digital, social and e-commerce component to drive purchases of wool products,” said AWI Country Manager China, Jeff Ma. See above.

The theme emphasised that Australian wool can play a role in helping to ‘heal the earth’ due to the fibre’s natural, circular eco-credentials. The campaign slogan was: ‘Merino wool back to nature’. The campaign was a strategic extension of the company’s earlier Spring/Summer 2023 campaign which had highlighted that wool is a biodegradable fibre that returns to nature when it is buried in soil.

“The sustainability of products is a major concern for consumers across the world, and this also applies to consumers in China. Natural and eco-friendly materials have become an important consideration for Chinese consumers when buying clothes, with sustainable fashion messaging becoming increasingly resonant within the China market,” Jeff said.

 

1. Building awareness of wool’s natural eco-credentials

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Screenshots from the video that highlight wool can help heal the planet.

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Screenshots from the video that highlight wool can help heal the planet.

Screenshots from the video that highlight wool can help heal the planet.

A key part of the campaign to raise awareness of the natural credentials of wool was the launch of a highly shareable 45-second video titled ‘When Merino met Mother Nature’. The video uses animation, which has proved to be a highly effective medium for delivering emotive messages and achieving a large impact on Chinese consumers.

In the video, a young child goes about healing the planet by placing woollen plasters on degraded parts of the landscape resulting in a healthy, biodiverse environment. At the end of the video, the child’s grandfather tells him (and the audience): “There are lots of people who care for the land just like you. They're called woolgrowers and they've been doing it for a very long time.” The grandfather, child and entire set of the video are made from Merino wool.

“The video places Merino wool at the centre of the sustainability movement by telling a poignant narrative of the natural origins of wool, and how the fibre can play a valuable role in healing the planet,” Jeff said.

“Designed to be memorable and informative, the film highlights the positive way that Australian woolgrowers and their sheep can reduce consumers’ environmental impacts, set against the backdrop of a heart-warming interaction between a grandparent and grandchild.”

The video and key visuals were launched in September on Chinese digital and social media platforms, and were also streamed on Xiaomi Smart TVs in China. The video received 84 million impressions (the number of times the video was presented) and 41 million video plays.

“The video was very well received, with our research showing that viewers, after watching the video, had a high recall of the campaign slogan ‘Merino wool back to nature’ and they said their intent to purchase Merino wool apparel had significantly increased,” Jeff said.

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Well-known Chinese actress Guan Xiaotong was an ambassador for The Woolmark Company’s campaign, pictured here in a campaign photo wearing Merino wool in a natural, green setting.

In the lead up to and during the major retail component of the Autumn/Winter campaign, The Woolmark Company leveraged the growing awareness and association of wool with nature and environmental sustainability, by launching a celebrity endorsement of the fibre on social media with famed Chinese actress Guan Xiaotong. Her films for the campaign received 145 million impressions and 33 million video plays.

“Securing A-list celebrity Guan Xiaotong as an ambassador for the Wool Week campaign proved to be a highly successful strategy, attracting substantial attention and driving significant traffic to the campaign,” Jeff said.

 

2. Driving wool purchases at retail

For the retail aspect part of the campaign, The Woolmark Company partnered with TMALL – the largest e-commerce platform in China – for the fifth consecutive year for Wool Week, during which TMALL had a dedicated ‘Wool Pavilion’ page which highlighted thousands of wool products for consumers to buy.

Widely known by industry insiders and highly recognised by consumers, Wool Week has become an annual campaign that brands and consumers look forward to. This year, a total of 4,000+ brands participated in the shopping festival. Taking place in September, it is the best time for new wool product launches.

Media and retail activations following the awareness phase of the campaign maximised consumer traffic to retail partners and increased sales of wool products in the peak selling period of Autumn/Winter.

The campaign achieved remarkable average daily sales growth, experiencing an impressive 150% increase compared to the pre-launch period.

During the campaign, the Wool Pavilion received more than 230 million page views. Key visuals of celebrity Guan Xiaotong featured in the Wool Pavilion and digital advertisements. Push notifications about the campaign were sent to 53+ million users across popular apps.

During Wool Week, there were also live shopping events during which consumers were able to view on TMALL people talking about, wearing and promoting various wool apparel products from international and domestic brands. The live shopping pages alone received seven million page views.

This was also the fourth year of the collaboration with global luxury e-commerce platform Net-a-Porter, which selected more than 50 high-end brands to promote Merino wool to high-end consumers.

The campaign also led up to brand partnerships in the run up to China’s Double 11 online shopping extravaganza. Double 11 (also known as Singles Day) is an online shopping festival held on 11 November in China that is similar, in some ways, to Black Friday in western nations. There is also a Double 12 shopping festival (also known as Couples Day) on 12 December, which involved further brand partnerships.

“While the campaign was successful in building and reinforcing consumers’ awareness of the all-round benefits and natural credentials of Merino wool, it importantly increased consumers consideration and purchase intent for Merino wool,” Jeff said.

“Most crucially, by providing a direct link between consumers’ sustainability values and the point of purchase, it was successful in driving increased demand for Merino wool products which will benefit Australian woolgrowers.”

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The home page of TMALL’s Wool Pavilion (featuring popular celebrity Guan Xiaotong at the top), which received more than 230 million views.

 

This article appeared in the March 2024 edition of AWI’s Beyond the Bale magazine. Reproduction of the article is encouraged.

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