How Bjorn Borg Entered China with Weibo and Taobao

This post is cross-posted from our blog, Taobao Field Guide.

On August 24th, Fashion brand Björn Borg announced they would be entering the Chinese market, with a store online on Taobao, and a physical store in Shanghai. In fact, BB began promoting their brand months earlier on Weibo, building their brand story and connecting to the fans that were already talking about their brand.

Weibo + Taobao as a market entry strategy is picking up steam among foreign brands looking for a effective way to quickly start building their brand in China. (We personally think that the retail outlet won’t be useful for them, and some experts agree.)  This is an analysis on what Bjorn Borg is doing on Weibo and Taobao, and the lessons we can take from them.

On Weibo

Take advantage of local trends

When the the 74-story Gate to the East in Suzhou was revealed, the popular reaction in China was that it looked like a pair of long underwear. The Bjorn Borg China social media team’s ears perked up, and they quickly took advantage of this by creating their own proposed modification to the nighttime lighting display. Accompanied by a pithy message, this one brought the brand right into the local conversation.  Point: Borg – 320 reposts.


Expand your following by running contests

Contests enable a brand to quickly expand its audience on Weibo.  Bjorn Borg ran this contest to giveaway 20 branded USB wristbands. From the contest description:

On August 30, Bjorn Borg delivered a gift bag to Lady Gaga at her concert in Helsinki. Want to know what was inside? Better to guess: 1. Follow @ BjornBorg  2. Reply with the Bjorn Borg outfit that would best suit Lady Gaga  3. Forward to three friends

This is the a popular contest format on Weibo.  And tying the contest to someone who is well-known among young people in China helped them build more interest in a key demographic.  By registering the contest with the Weibo official promotions website, they expanded their account’s visibility to a new audience. Point: Borg – 1642 contest entries, 3400+ forwards and 2500+ comments.


Cross-promotions back to Taobao

Bjorn Borg pulls people to the store with time-limited discount deals exclusive to their Taobao store.  This eye-catching grand opening launch promotion offered up to 50% off merchandise. Point Borg: 311 forwards, 85 comments


On Taobao

Bjorn Borg chooses Taobao, not Tmall

The first thing to recognize is that Bjorn Borg decided to open on Taobao, and not Tmall.  A common perception is that Tmall is a B2C platform and the only place for big brands, and Taobao is a C2C platform for small businesses.  In reality, many large companies prefer to stay on Taobao, as Tmall stores are significantly more expensive and restrictive to own and operate.   This, and the fact that Taobao and Tmall search results show up side-by-side on Taobao, further dilutes the distinction between the two platforms. When Bjorn Borg fully knows what to expect from their China ecommerce operations, they can consider the pros and cons of switching to Tmall.

Brand the JA! out of your store and product pages

Every page on Bjorn Borg’s Taobao store and product pages feature big bright branding.  This branding signals to consumers that the store is an official, premium flagship store.  Their branding features big images, and localization that mixes of Chinese, English and a sprinkling of Swedish: BJORN BORG SAYS JA TO CHINA. They also prominently feature their brand history. Their second navigation link after Home is Our Story, a page which covers Bjorn Borg’s history going back to 1956.

Go longform

This is a zoomed-out view of a single Bjorn Borg Taobao product page. You’ll notice that it is long with a lot of images: several screen-filling high-res product shots with Chinese annotations. Taobao product pages are like this – the more info the better, since most search shoppers see only your product page. Click the image below for some description of what’s going on in there.


Cross-promote with Weibo

Just like their Weibo account referenced their Taobao store, their Taobao product listings also demonstrate their good reputation on Weibo. Bjorn Borg’s popular product pages include highlighted screenshots from Weibo of people talking about their affinity for the Bjorn Borg product line.


Advantage: Borg!

The Bjorn Borg brand’s market entry activities weren’t only online, but the online components feature an strong presence on Weibo which interacts seamlessly with their own branded Taobao store. They’re doing it right, JA?


If you want to comment on this post or see more articles, check out our blog the Taobao Field Guide

If you want to explore the potent Weibo+Taobao combination for your own business, get in touch.