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Brands court Chinese shoppers on bulletin boards

08 : 03 : 2012 China : La Fondazione Altagamma : Netizens

China – A third of China’s burgeoning web population uses Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) and online discussion forums, a recent study by global insights agency Nielsen has revealed. Meanwhile, 80% of BBS users consult others when making decisions about what to buy.

China has the biggest online population on earth, with 450m web users, and these figures highlight the importance of social networks for brands hoping to engage consumers. Already, half of China’s web users communicate via blogs and social media, the same study said.

A recent report by Italian Trade body La Fondazione Altagamma also revealed that 58% of Chinese luxury consumers consult blogs before making a purchase, while 33% visit Facebook.

Several global brands have already been tapping into BBS’s power. Lancôme’s Rose Beauty BBS, launched in 2006, now has 4m subscribers. Burberry also has a strong BBS presence, affiliating with, and providing content for, cutting-edge sites such as Douban.

By creating these forums, or aligning themselves with popular existing ones, brands have access to thousands of China’s most connected and influential web users. These forums are respected by consumers, who feel that they are being helped, not manipulated. BBS is a potential template for how brands can effectively communicate with important and influential consumers.