More than a hundred museums open in China every year. As many shopping centres are on the lookout for works of art to brighten up their spaces. In e-commerce, platforms like Taobao offer numerous cultural products to satisfy Chinese consumers’ thirst for contemporary art. For Zoe Zhang, CEO of the start-up Artable, a link in the chain was missing. Namely the community!
Artable puts customers first by letting them dialogue with one another directly and with the artists. It also empowers consumer empowerment by suggesting that they help fund an art project.
To reach the public, Artable has decided to use the instant messaging application WeChat, highly successful with 500 million active users per month. Now it is even a “lifestyle” application in its capacity to interact with 85,000 other applications in one place! A brand in China can no longer do without this preferred channel to develop a close relationship with customers. Which explains why start-up Artable was chosen. It is banking on WeChat to bring art into the everyday life of consumers, and on the Wallet offered by the messaging service to encourage in-app donations or purchases of works of art.
Artable’s project is emblematic of users’ expectations for a privileged communication experience between a brand and its customers. Here it draws on the community and instant messaging.
Instant messaging meets the expectation of an ongoing, individualized and instantaneous relationship with the brand. On WeChat, messages between a brand and the customer can even be enriched with pictures, audio and videos, hence the feeling of a personal and rewarding experience. In France, the number of New Year text messages even fell below that of MMS messages and instant messaging applications like Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat or Snapchat. Tomorrow, a service will be conversational!
In fact, instant messaging is becoming the entry point for a service platform. WeChat has shown the way: the Chinese company was the first to transform its chat application by combining media, social, retailing and payment capacities. On WeChat, a user can stay in touch with their friends and relatives, reserve air tickets, order a taxi, transfer money, make in investment, pay online or in store, make an appointment with a healthcare professional, etc. “At any time of day there is a point of interaction between WeChat and everyday life” adds Stephen Wang, senior Project Manager at WeChat.
No wonder then that these applications are now central to the strategies of the BATs (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) and the GAFAs, led by Facebook (see: Google and Facebook enter the war of personal messaging assistants): they are reshuffling the cards of customer engagement on mobiles.
The community constantly puts conversation at the heart of the customer relationship. It is now the backbone for generating long-term engagement with a brand.
Furthermore, the possibility for a customer to actively fund a project totally resonates with the reality of the Chinese crowdfunding market. This market is growing so fast that giants like Alibaba, Baidu or Jingdong have all launched their own funding platform (donations, loans, investment).