Apps BAT China Digital Business Mobile

We tried Starbucks innovative social gifting through WeChat

A new discovery to the WeChat wallet is the innovative concept of social gifting, implemented by coffee industry leaders, Starbucks.Now people can chat, pay, order a taxi and offer a drink on a single application, WeChat. Where as in the US, consumers use four different apps; Uber, WhatsApp, Apple Pay and Starbucks Apps, for the same results.We are living in an era of integration and aggregation of businesses and this new social gifting feature is a great example of the impact the app has on 020. Starbucks mini-app featured in WeChat Wallet


Check how the 765 million (01/2017) daily users of WeChat can buy & offer a Starbucks today in China, with this short video:PGlmcmFtZSBoZWlnaHQ9NDk4IHdpZHRoPTUxMCBzcmM9J2h0dHA6Ly9wbGF5ZXIueW91a3UuY29tL2VtYmVkL1hNall3T1RFNU56TTRNQT09JyBmcmFtZWJvcmRlcj0wICdhbGxvd2Z1bGxzY3JlZW4nPjwvaWZyYW1lPg==


‘用星说’ -Say it with Starbucks-, released on February 10-10, 2017 on Weixin (WeChat). The launch of this feature has matched with user service requirements. As of now, users are easily able to gift fellow friends and family a Starbucks coffee instead of sending Hongbaos. It is a temporary campaign but has already had a significant affect on how we use mobile phones tomorrow.’By leveraging the power and reach of Weixin, we want to encourage everyday simple acts of kindness to put a smile on someone’s face at any time or place, while elevating the unique Starbucks Experience beyond our retail stores in China'

That social gifting experience was set to be temporary since the beginning, and specially launched for Valentine’s day. WeChat may continue doing that kind of innovations regularly and test how it’s adopted. They might do it 2-3 times a year according to Matthew Brennan, co-founder of China Channel & WeChat expert. By now this is mainly seen as a communication method from people who are evolved in the WeChat environment. Despite the lack of information concerning the results of this campaign, WeChat experts predict it’s more likely to be a success.Why is that a big thing?

  • Non aggressive strategy: no subscription, no messages, no accounts
  • Intimate sphere of your phone: chat log and money

  • Solution to gift through a platform with a convenient feature.
  • User’s journey is fully integrated in WeChat: no need to switch apps.

  • First time you may have a thoughtful gift for someone within a Chat App.

  • Given though the results are undetermined there is a good projection for this app being a success.
  • Let’s see how many campaigns WeChat will launch.

The Mobile’s place in O2OThis is the first time that a non-Chinese company integrates the WeChat Wallet. On which there are only 9 services offered by a third party operator, from which we can cite the famous Didi Chuxing, the murderer of Uber in China.

By being integrated into the WeChat Wallet you have an opportunity of a life time.The brand can now activate sales indirectly. As a third party customer can receive a gift coupon of his phone.

Coupons in China are very popular. It’s very common to be member of ‘coupons sharing’ groups on WeChat. After buying some food on (饿了么) for example, you can share on social media your receipt and people can get coupons from it. Starbucks is also working with Tencent to use this coupon feature. An other way to empower O2O.Online-to-offline (O2O) is a valuable approach to support efforts done by Starbucks to expand in China. Thanks to the penetration rate of mobile usage in the Chinese population, O2O is a major trend  for multinationals in China. Let’s remember that China opens a new Starbucks every day for the upcoming 5 years. Which transcribes it’s desire to increase its customers base. WeChat is by now a great way to enlarge the scope of potential customers, and increase Starbucks customer base!Tencent & Starbucks strategic partnershipTencent has the technology, while Starbucks has the brand notoriety and a wide customer base. Their strategic partnership is composed of 3 main points:

  • Loyalty program with WeChat. Ability for Starbucks to access the coupons interface on WeChat.
  • Implement WePay in Starbucks shops
  • Virtual Barista

On the short term it appears very clearly that Starbucks and Tencent are enjoying great returns from this partnership. But as always when dealing with the GAFABAT, it is important to find a balance with your independence towards partners. We truly believe in the growing importance of this issue, where the CDO will more likely be a great wall against the influence of digital champions.China is a success for Starbucks, they realized early that they had to make it their second biggest market, and fully developed a strategy for the Chinese market. Also they are proving their knowledge in the importance of public relations, by having good relations with government and major actors. As an example they established a massive business by partnering with DisneyLand Shanghai.

It is very exiting to try and discover all these new features in China. We wait impatiently for the new innovations to come on WeChat Wallet. Today more than ever they definitely stand as first mover.Written by Etienne Serres & Xavier Germain.

By Etienne Serres

Multicultural student (tck) having my masters in Shanghai.
After living in several countries I am now in China to discover and understand the local culture & digital.

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