Tobacco Asia

Volume 19, Number 1

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64 tobaccoasia WeChat web-based marketing has seen consider- able growth in China for being highly efficient, swift, cheap, and highly interactive. Finding it im- perative to strengthen communication between cigarette brands and consumers, tobacco manu- facturers realized that the real, private, and valu- able WeChat users are more suitable targets for the tobacco industry to launch positioning marketing. Therefore, the WeChat platform becomes another channel for tobacco manufacturers to strengthen communication with consumers, one which is more focused, more abundant in infor- mation, and more attractive. Using WeChat web, tobacco manufacturers have virtually transformed the traditional one-way communication into a two-way interaction. Presently, the manufacturing sector, the com- mercial sector, retailers, and third-party institu- tions – the four parties in the tobacco trade – are all actively exploring ways to use WeChat web- based marketing. In general, the use of WeChat by the tobacco industry can be summarized into the following five points: 1. Strategic and tactical release of data: To re- lease to customers in a timely manner data on sup- ply of tobacco products, to enable customers un- derstand the situation of supply, and place orders in a timely manner; 2. Advertising and sales promotion: To launch activities of advertising and sales promotion at a time when new products are going on the market or when there is relatively abundant inventories of some brands; 3. Dissemination of corporate culture: To convey corporate culture and spirit to the general public, customers, and consumers, in order to gain greater recognition and support; 4. Development of brands: To vigorously pro- mote the brand development strategy of the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration (STMA) and development of low-tar cigarette brands; and 5. Maintenance of customer relations: To pro- vide better service for customers and to promote the level of service, in order to increase customer satisfaction. Public Platforms and Tobacco Manufacturers A number of tobacco manufacturers opened We- Chat public accounts for their leading cigarette brands. For example, China Tobacco Guangxi In- dustrial opened accounts for its Zhenlong cigarette brand; China Tobacco Anhui Industrial for Mount Huangshan cigarettes; China Tobacco Jiangxi Indus- trial (Jinsheng); China Tobacco Yunnan Industrial (Yuxi) ; and China Tobacco Hebei Industrial for its Road to Success brand. In particular, the official WeChat of China Tobacco Guangxi (CTGI) have been remarkably successful. In August 2013, CTGI opened ac- counts for subscription to its Zhenlong and Zhenlong Bamatiancheng brands. Through these accounts, the company developed different content and created different promotions in accordance with the dif- ferent definitions of the accounts. By modifying the design of its WeChat inter- face, the company enabled consumers to have a completely new perception about the Zhenlong brand family through online experience, and made the brand more vibrant and visual. The specific approach adopted by the company in this endeav- or includes: making use of its WeChat website to enable users to better understand the brand; es- tablishment of a micro community to enable com- munication exchange and sharing of information among fans; launch of interactive WeChat activi- ties online, including "grabbing the red envelope", "checking in every day", "showing off your beau- tiful photos", etc, and also interactive activities offline. By last October, the number of fans with We- Chat public accounts for Zhenlong reached more than 45,000, a full eight-fold increase in a year; and the number of fans of WeChat for Zhenlong Ori- gin reached more than 23,000, a 31-fold increase over 2013. All in all, through its WeChat platform, CTGI released 1,350 news reports with both text and pictures, 20 WeChat web-based marketing campaigns with more than 100,000 hits received, 8,000 stories from other sources with both text and pictures, and registered more than 100,000 pieces of information in exchanges and interaction with netizens. Emerging Web Messaging Marketing of Tobacco Products in China By Allen Liao As traditional one-way tobacco communication faces difficulties due to increasing restrictions, Chinese tobacco manufacturers more and more choose the booming WeChat ("micro message") web – a mobile text and voice messaging communication service – as a great choice to promote their products.

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