Tmall, Alibaba Group’s B2C online marketplace, has designed a new space for showcasing brand experiences at Shanghai’s K11 shopping mall.
Starting this week, Tmall will partner with brands to feature pop-up activations exclusive to the venue, including a street-culture exhibition from Vans to live-band performances and ice-cream-themed immersive plays. Bobbi Brown, Make Up For Ever, Abercrombie & Fitch, Swisse, Oral-B and Scotch whisky brand Ballantine’s are among the first to leverage the space to reach Chinese consumers.
Tmall sends invitations to the brand’s premium customers, although anyone can sign up using the website for Tmall Club, the platform’s experiential-marketing unit. By measuring the initial interest of consumers, brands gain insight into participants, enabling them to better engage those consumers offline. “As a key destination for brand-building, Tmall needs to help brands connect their members with their physical stores and events and bring one-of-a-kind experiences to consumers,” says Liu Bo, general manager of Tmall and Taobao Marketing.
Bringing the world of e-commerce together with brick-and-mortar is a specialty of the Alibaba Group. Just recently the Alibaba Group-owned online marketplace Taobao opened a multibrand store at the Hangzhou Kerry Center shopping mall named Taostyle. The concept: Taostyle offers items from fashion brands within the Taobao online marketplace, which are being showcased for the first time at a physical store. Taostyle’s fashion buyers determine which brands and products will be placed in the sales area based on a mix of market knowledge and consumer insights drawn from Alibaba’s platform.
The Chinese also know how to retain customers and create shopping experiences outside the digital world. Since its launch in 2017, the Tmall Club has joined forces with over 200 brands to offer its premium shoppers the ultimate shopping experience. This includes, for example, a trip to the Dead Sea in Israel to get to know the products of the beauty brand Ahava, test drives with cars in the Porsche Experience Center, an exclusive tour through the British Museum in London or a visit to the mineral water spring of Evian in the French Alps.
“Companies increasingly need to build experience into the consumer journey. By providing consumers the chance to engage with a brand offline, they can heighten their online engagement as well. These experiences ultimately lead to stronger brand loyalty and retention,” says Liu Bo.