Since 2013, the world’s largest digital retail market has been China. As more and more Chinese consumers use their mobile phones to access the Internet, mobile purchases have become the primary way e-commerce is done, reaching 72.8 percent in 2017.
With a savvy and ever-expanding young customer base, the sense of authenticity that comes with influencer marketing has proven crucial to online business. The microblogging site Weibo determines an influencer as one who has a minimum of 10,000 followers, for example, and considers around 30,000 of its users in that category.
Entrepreneur Ella Zhang designs and sells clothes in China. When she wanted to grow her small business ElleoZhang, she set a goal to expand 15 percent faster than the market. Having built it on Taobao, a digital shopping marketplace that facilitates sales directly between small businesses and consumers, she found the platform expensive and decided to explore other platforms.
Focused on growing her known market segment of urban young professionals, Zhang’s research led her to the areas with the highest percentage of those consumers: Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and associated regions. She used Weibo to post articles advertising ElleoZhang’s designs and quickly became an influencer, growing her audience to over 200,000 followers. She grew ElleoZhang by 18 percent in 2017.
Read more about how Zhang grew her business and evaluates digital platforms in Meghan R. Murray’s article “A Fashionista’s Tool of the Trade: Weibo,” in the Darden School of Business/Washington Post “Case in Point” series.
The article is based on the case ElleoZhang and Weibo (Darden Business Publishing), by Meghan Murray, Siyuan Sun, Siming Xu and Xiang Yu.