Vancouver Fashion Week (WFV) is a seven day long event, held twice a year at the ‘Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver’. It is run and curated by organizer Jamal Abdurahman. It’s the fastest developing Fashion Week on the continent after completing 27 successful events.
VFW is providing a strong international platform for designers and modelling talent with a focus on the diversity of fashion across the globe and in 2016 hosted 100 shows featuring many talented designers, many of them unable to showcase their work at the larger shows in Milan, New York and Paris.
VFW wanted to broaden its appeal to China
Vancouver Fashion Week wanted to differentiate themselves and develop their popularity in China, primarily among fashion designers, potential buyers and eMedia platforms.
Being a smaller, yet highly prestigious event they saw attracting Chinese interest as a key strategy for growing their international presence.
Many Chinese also have an affinity with Canada. There are many expats in living in the country from Mainland creating positive associations with Canadian lifestyle and culture.
The Problem – Lacking Visibility in China
Before 2016, VFW had not been noticed by the Chinese fashion industry, despite some marketing in China since 2009, they still had little presence online in this very different internet landscape.
The Chinese internet is essentially an ‘intranet’, separate and cut off from the rest of the globe by the ‘Great Chinese Firewall’. All the positive articles and content on VFW found on Google and Facebook are not visible at all in China.
VFW needed to be present on Chinese platforms and forums to intelligently target the right fashion conscious communities.
Barriers for entry are an opportunity
The fashion event proved to be quick thinking and savy, they realized they had to start over again by building their reputation and visibility on Chinese platforms but they also saw the barriers for entry as an opportunity. It often limits competition and allows brands to create a high profile status ahead of competitors on the most important keyword searches in Mandarin Chinese.
VFW as a slightly smaller but highly respected and diverse Fashion show looked towards Chinese investment, buyers, media and designers to set themselves apart from the rest.
Vancouver Fashion Week partners with Gentlemen Marketing
VFW realized they needed a partner who understood the local platforms, marketing methods and who could provide the right, Chinese specific approach. Utilizing local partners is vital for your success in China.
The mission was to create a ‘buzz’ on the right platforms by targeting fashion communities with high quality content. Gentlemen Marketing were tasked to spike interest in VFW before and after the event..
Here’s what happened..
Implementing the Right Solutions
The first step was to get around the table and discuss how VFW wanted to brand themselves in China. Research was carried out into the most active fashion communities and on what platforms they could be found.
Quality Chinese content had to created that would peak interest before and after the event with exclusive news and updates for the Chinese market. Chinese users like to feel targeted and special, in our digital era users are constantly encountering online ads and marketing ploys.. We had to curate insightful content for the discerning Chinese end user.
photo credit @news.cn
VFW wanted to penetrate into the Chinese media. The best approach was through PR. It needed to be highly sharable, concise and insightful with new information provided. VFW stories were shared about up and coming designers, Chinese fashion opportunities, the appeal of visiting cosmopolitan Vancouver and the event’s unique positioning on the world stage. Over 20 different PR topics were covered with 120 fashion websites and blogs featuring the event.
The key to success here was using the most efficient Chinese portals for spreading PR to digital media contacts. This raised the profile of the event across the e-media in China.
Journalists in China will specialize in specific area’s and are important for penetrating into the mainstream media. Two key fashion journalists in China are ‘Rayli’ and ‘Femina (伊周)’, they were both approached and featured content on the growth of VFW in China.
‘Fashion Industry Network’, a reputable fashion blog, also featured an article on how the event ‘Turned on Social Media in China’.
Chinese forums and active communities are very important to tap into. Often after searching on Baidu (70% of all online research is done here) the first hits will be the forum results and an official website. VFW very therefore very active in engaging with these communities to build their reputation.
A host of popular threads and conversations were started in targeted Chinese forums concerned with fashion. A record number of new topics and questions were posted on Zhihu, Baidu Tieba and Douban about VFW. The message was about the event being the ‘perfect fashion event for the discerning Chinese fashionista’.
Facilitating the sharing of views and opinions in forums was vitally important to the success of this campaign with a total of 10 000 responses.
Social networks in China
Official campaigns on Weibo & WeChat were launched to improve the visibility and reputation of the fashion week, it was also a key platform for sharing content.
Three new posts per week Weibo were promoted on community pages , these were also shared by Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) such as ‘Luo Ling’ and ‘Xin Fashion’ to tap into their established and influential, fashion focused user base.
On WeChat three new items of content were shared per week on the ‘moments feed’ and in targeted group chats. Relevant WeChat accounts such as ‘JAC Canada’ and ‘In Canada’ re-shared content to their followers.
An Online Success Story
In the weeks before and after the event the Chinese internet was awash with news articles, posts, comments and discussions about VFW. It became a hot topic with more Chinese posting questions on forums (such as Baidu Tieba, Douban and Zhihu..) about the event than ever before. There were 10 000 responses on Forums.
This underscores the potential for virality with a highly engaged digital user base focused around established, active communities of Chinese netziens. With the right specialist insights you can tap into targeted groups for building reputation and visibility.
Connecting with Designers
VFW in 2016 went onto connect with and invite talented Chinese designers, like Helen Lee, to attend. They are determined to explore more brilliant Chinese fashion designers in the future after significantly building their visibility and reputation online.
Chinese journalists also requested interviews with up and coming designers such as ‘Angus Chiang’. There were greater levels of interest in Chinese designers showcasing their work at the event than in previous years.
Organizer ‘Jamal Abdurahman’ emphasized the importance of Marketing to China
“As a fashionista, I’d like to see Chinese designers go to international markets, look for chances and organize international resources. At the same time.. cooperate with professional teams, share information between each other, and focus efforts on marketing and branding.”
Working with Gentlemen.. The Right Decision?
With little previous marketing experience in China, partnering with our specialist team paid off for VFW. We dramatically increased the levels of interest in the event for buyers, designers and in the digital media. The social media sphere was indeed ‘turned on’ by Vancouver’s flagship fashion event like never before.
They actually hired different PR agencies for different campaigns in different regions (LA, London, Toronto, New York, Tokyo, etc.) to help them obtain more coverage from local and international media for their emerging designers.
We are proud to be part of a truly successful, international effort on behalf of Vancouver Fashion Week. VFW certainly made the right choice by selecting a PR agency for growing their reputation and visibility in the Chinese market. more information about our Services