China Content: Taobao ahead of the curve

This was an interesting approach for Taobao to move into really high quality content production with the same protagonist, whose content has nothing to do with a hard sell proposition of product placement. Have a look at the vignettes they produced, they are great short films and look like it cost a fair amount to produce.

You’ll find great cinematography, each with a storyline and very entertaining – the sales proposition here is the excitement of a lifestyle and a thoughtful approach to how we live life through the “1001 nights” theme. There is however food that runs through each episode, from a leg of ham to instant noodles, fish dumplings to coconut, featuring the cleaver often.

What’s even more interesting is they launched it purely on their mobile site, driving all the traffic there, without using any of their social media channels to promote the videos. If you watch the videos on a desktop you can see the specs were made for mobile.

Interesting strategy of connecting with the “post 90s” generation (people born after the 1990s) millennials with very short attention spans.

Socialbrandwatch gives a brief overview  here.

Data has shown that most of the people who are on Taobao do so at night before bed time, and these vignettes would be viewed before bedtime inspiring people to shop or give them a better night’s sleep – a bed time video (rather than story) if you will.

A great branding exercise for Taobao and shift in positioning making it sexy and fun, which is all feel good and interesting to watch what they’ll be up to next, when you “go upstairs” in Taobao.

Perhaps, this also serves as a sneak peek on what’s to come in the next phase of e-commerce where content leads to conversions. What they’ve done here is entertained but also tapped into emotional needs and wants on how we want to live our lives and like the 1001 Arabian nights, we need fairy tales and things like this that adds that sparkle and hope to our lives.

With times, we’ve moved into the digital space rather than re-read classics, so I found these vignettes filling the gap in a brilliant way, in our otherwise is dull and mundane existence.

I suppose Taobao as an e-commerce platform is evolving into an all life encompassing platform that fills the void in more meaningul ways – whether it’s through a parable or poetry that retail therapy sometimes cannot fill. In this day and age of short attention spans and pervasive ennui and restlessness, Taobao’s move is refreshing and inspirational which is a brilliant way to segway into brand building, moving away from merely the e-commerce platform it is known as… moving into the direction of selling a lifestyle, a story rather than mere products.

While clearly Taobao has good SEO as a website and tops the searching ranking, this strategy to drive all the traffic onto their mobile site (instead of social channels) is an interesting one that continues to keep them at the top of the search ranking for SEO and an interesting bold step towards their new brand positioning.

Taobao invites you “upstairs” at 10 at night – New Campaign


Juliana Loh

Juliana is a freelance marketing communications strategist with more than a decade of experience in the field of advertising, journalism and luxury hospitality, with a focus on China and the Asia Pacific region.

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