Double 11: Three blunders to avoid this shopping season

This year will mark the 14th year of China’s biggest shopping festival, ‘Double 11’. Since its inception in 2009 by China’s eCommerce juggernaut Alibaba, the parent company of Tmall and Taobao, this shopping festival has grown into a widely anticipated industry event and sale bonanza. In 2021, the gross merchandise value (GMV) of Double11 reached 965 billion RMB across all digital platforms.

With this year’s Double 11 pre-sales already underway, consumers will have the shopping day in mind, and will be ready to shop. Many brands will have their sights set on bagging the biggest revenue, meaning they will prepare well in advance of November 11th – with stocks, human resources and advertising budgets in place. The last thing you want to do is miss the key dates and opportunities for maximising your brand awareness and sales. Here are the biggest blunders you need to avoid this selling season.

‘Disappeared’ brand accounts on social media

Before China’s annual mid-year shopping event, 618, kicked off earlier this year, a few famous skincare and cosmetics brands including Fancl, Whoo, Judydoll, were faced with a platform penalty on Little Red Book (RED) due to unreported influencer collaborations, which ultimately led to the sudden ‘disappearance’ of their accounts. Although those accounts managed to recover following the 28-day penalty, they had already missed the best promotion period of 618. It not only shocked brands and marketers, but it also highlighted the importance of following the guidelines.

‘Disappeared’ account name on search result page due to penalty

On 20 April 2022, RED, one of the most popular social platforms in China, launched a new brand violation points system. Every brand account active on their platform is given 10 points to start with, and every misconduct against the platform rules (mainly unreported influencer collaborations) would incur a two-point deduction. Each time a rule is violated by a brand account, more points are deducted from their account and more severe penalties are applied by RED, such as a post traffic limitation or short-term account bans anywhere 7- 28 days. If a brand loses all 10 points, the brand account will be suspended until the brand removes the problematic content.

Little Red Book brand violation points system

Among all misconducts that a brand account can commit, the most common issue is unreported influencer collaborations. As discussed in Croud’s blog series on marketing with Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu), some platforms like RED, already set up their official platform, or Pugongying, to regulate all paid campaigns with influencers. If brands bypass this system through means outside of Pugongying to save the 10% service fee, brands could face a tough penalty from the platform.

This type of misdemeanor check is known as a ‘woodpecker’ plan on RED. Every year before major marketing events like Double 11 and 618, RED reviews brands to identify any ‘woodpecking’ accounts and bans any that fall within this category. According to an unofficial source, this was one of the main reasons why a number of brand accounts suddenly disappeared from the platform.

Undoubtedly, social media influencers have gradually become another vital force for brands’ Double 11 marketing campaigns, especially in the run-up to the event. The right influencers will help promote a brand’s products efficiently and effectively. If you are thinking of taking advantage of influencer marketing for your Double 11 campaign this year, it is essential to comply with any new platform regulations in place – otherwise, brands run the risk of receiving no return on your influencer investment. More importantly, it might backfire on your brand and disrupt your overall Double 11 campaign.

Livestream is facing stricter regulations

Livestream ecommerce is another flourishing promotional channel during Double 11. In 2021, the GMV generated through livestreaming passed 131 billion RMB, highlighting the incredible opportunity this channel has to offer brands. The booming business, however, grabbed the attention of platform regulators, leading to the implementation of new restrictions and guidelines for brands participating in livestream ecommerce.

On 24th June 2021, the China Advertising Association (CAA) issued the first code of conduct for online livestream marketing, engaging brands, livestreamers and livestreaming platforms, to prevent any type of marketing scam or fraud. Although this code of conduct is not legally bound, livestream platforms are actually held responsible for their own livestreaming content. As a result, each platform has set up its own strict rules and regulations to avoid any potential misconduct or violation. In the case that a livestreamer associated or cooperated with a brand who violated any platform rules, their livestream session would be suspended by the platform, and the brand’s reputation would most likely be damaged.

In August 2022, Douyin released a Livestreaming Platform Regulation whitepaper, summarising the eight main actions that accounts should not be participate in, including:

  • The infringement of children’s rights. Accounts may not instigate, threaten or force children to participate in livestream ecommerce
  • Showcase vulgar content, including sex, violence, vulgarity, etc.
  • Any form of misleading or false advertising
  • Exaggerated advertising to advocate excessive consumption
  • Promote sales involving any underground industry, such as a romance scam, loan fraud, etc.
  • Data fraud
  • Gambling
  • Bribery

If brands choose not to properly regulate their livestreamers, they will not be able to successfully drive sales, as this issue could inflict long-term negative impacts on their brand image.

Double 11 design elements cannot be overlooked

As mentioned above, Double 11 has become a well-known shopping festival, reaching platforms beyond Taobao and Tmall. Even if you haven’t launched a Tmall store yet, you can still promote special deals for Double 11 across your website or other social platforms.

However, brands must be aware that, as the creator of Double 11, Tmall still owns the copyright for the ‘Tmall Double 11’ logo. Every year before the campaign period, Tmall will release a set of exclusive official logos only for collaborating brands to download. These logos can be used by these brands across any creatives and store decorations during the Double 11 campaign period. Tmall will also provide specific design and usage guidelines for brands to reference. Below is an example of Michael Kors’ authorised use of Tmall’s Double 11 logo:

If you have not yet signed your Tmall store up for the platform’s official promotion scheme, or you don’t have a Tmall store at all, you are not allowed to use their official logo on your campaign creatives. If any Tmall store was found using official logos without permission, the store could potentially be downgraded, with their products removed from the platform. Brands using Tmall’s official Double 11 logos across their own website or other platforms could face even worse penalties, as this would be deemed copyright infringement. 

However, brands can always work around the lack of Tmall’s official logo by highlighting ’11/11 sales’ messaging in their creatives. Here are examples of Lancome and Mazda’s original creative designs published on their Weibo social media account.
Are you interested in learning more about how to maximise your Double 11 marketing strategy? Get in touch with Croud’s APAC team to explore how we can help you create a bespoke strategy for your brand for this year’s Double 11.

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