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Taobao: The relaunch of Taobao Mall as Tmall.

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Source: Case Studies on WARC, Lowe China, January 2012
Downloaded from WARC

Taobao is the world's largest ecommerce platform and in 2008 launched Taobao Mall in China, which
allowed businesses to sell online to consumers via a Taobao-branded platform. The new platform
carried both the strengths and problems of its parent brand, so in 2010 the company decided that
Taobao Mall needed to differentiate itself from Taobao.com in both branding and communications. Its
English name was changed to Tmall.com, focusing on the mall concept that draws direct traffic to its
brands, rather than through Taobao. Outdoor, television and print were used to communicate the
theme 'No one shopping doesn't mean no one is shopping', which emphasised the luxury of shopping
from home. Daily turnover of Taobao Mall increased by around 50% between June 2010 (before the
campaign) and November 2010 (during the campaign).

Lowe

Advertiser: Taobao
Brand: Taobao Mall
Agency: Lowe China
Market: China

Background
China's Taobao is the world's largest ecommerce platform, with over 200 million users. The consumer-to-
consumer shopping site (often referred to as 'China's eBay') was founded by Alibaba Group in 2003. As the
consumer market base in China grew and increasingly tech-savvy Chinese consumers began to shop online,
Taobao introduced a business-to-consumer platform called Taobao Mall in 2008. This allowed businesses to
sell online to consumers via a Taobao-branded platform.

Taobao Mall carried with it the baggage of Taobao.com. It inherited the strengths of the Taobao brand, as well
as its problems. Compared to its high-profile parent company, Taobao Mall had relatively low awareness.
Consumers were confused over Taobao Mall's branding and business nature as they could not discern whether
it was a consumer-to-consumer shopping site or a shopping mall.
Taobao's name, which in Chinese means 'treasure-hunting', was relevant to consumers. It hinted at the need to
hunt down good buys amidst the fake and contraband merchandise that typically flood consumer-to-consumer
shopping sites. The business-to-consumer nature of Taobao Mall was a departure from this. While a high
proportion of traffic came through Taobao.com, Taobao Mall's turnover was just 1/16th of Taobao's.

In 2010, the company decided that Taobao Mall needed to differentiate itself from Taobao.com in both branding
and communications.

Strategy
The goal was to mark the beginning of a new online shopping era and establish Taobao Mall's role as a
business-to-consumer site, offering consumers the opportunity to shop for major brands online. But it did not
want to ditch the Taobao association completely, as years of hard work had built that into a strong brand.

In November 2010, an aggressive plan to push Taobao Mall ahead of its competitors was brought to life.
Taobao Mall set out to announce its English name officially as Tmall.com, along with its URL change to
www.tmall.com. This emphasised the mall concept of Taobao Mall as a standalone entity that draws direct
traffic to its 30,000 brands rather than through Taobao. The Chinese brand name was kept unchanged so it
could continue tapping on its brand equity and traffic flow resources.

The site was adjusted to create a 'shopping mall' window-browsing experience. The virtual mall divided into
zones and 'floors', as a real-world shopping mall would be.

The company also invested RMB 200 million in advertising for Tmall.com. The specific communication
objectives were:

1. To raise awareness and perception


2. To build direct traffic flow
3. To announce the beginning of a new era of shopping

Execution
Communications were built around a nationwide campaign with the theme 'No one shopping doesn't mean no
one is shopping'. Consumers were reached via a carefully planned combination of television, print and out-of-
home advertising at outdoor bus shelters and metro stations.

TV ads showed deserted streets and town centres, with the voiceover explaining that people were instead going
to their computers to shop.

Emphasising the luxury of shopping right from home, the outdoor and print ads gave its target audience
compelling reasons (such as 'I can browse as far as my heart wishes' and 'Within the 20 sqm of my bedroom, I
am browsing from Xi Dan to Causeway Bay') to shop from home instead of going to the stores. The campaign
attracted much media attention and helped Tmall.com to achieve its communications objectives of raising brand
awareness and perception, building direct traffic flow and revolutionising the shopping experience for Chinese
consumers.
I won’t give up browsing until I land the perfect colour.

2:30 a.m. I am either browsing at the Fashion Plaza or the New Product Launch Party.

Staying at home cannot stop me from window-shopping.

Within the 20 sqm. of my bedroom, I am browsing from Xi Dan to Causeway Bay


I can browse as far as my heart wishes.

Nothing beats bringing home Electronics City.


Results
Consumers responded favourably, with a huge increase in Tmall.com's daily transactions.

Daily turnover of Taobao Mall increased by around 50% between June 2010 (before the campaign) and
November 2010 (during the campaign).

Tmall.com ran a promotion on 11 November 2010, during the brand campaign, which went on to break sales
records with an achievement of over RMB 900 million of sales in just a single day. This was more than 10 times
its pre-campaign sales figures and equivalent to a single day's retail sales takings from the whole of Hong Kong.
As a result of the campaign, Tmall.com registered high brand awareness among consumers, second only to
Taobao. In a study asking consumers which ads they had noticed for online shopping brands, Taobao was top
at around 23%, with Tmall second at around 13%. No other brand scored more than 5%, pushing Tmall well
ahead of e-commerce competitors 360buy.com, Dangdang.com, Amazon.com and M18.com.

Importantly, post-campaign research also revealed that consumers had gained a greater understanding of
Tmall's business-to-consumer proposition, and could tell the difference between Taobao and Tmall. When
asked what the difference between the two was, more consumers knew that Tmall was where you could buy
from brands rather than other consumers, and that those goods could be trusted and came with good after-sales
service.

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