mac and honor of kings

An exemplary cross-industry collaboration example in China: What do lipstick and China’s most popular mobile game have in common? | Daxue Consulting

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M.A.C successfully collaborated with China’s biggest mobile game to boost brand awareness

Cross-industry collaboration in China. Last month, the Canadian cosmetics brand M.A.C and the most popular Chinese mobile game Honor of Kings released five co-branded lipsticks, featuring the lip colors of 5 well-known game characters. This cross-industry collaboration has become a huge success and caused an enormous response from Chinese consumers. Over 14,000 pre-orders across all three platforms (Tmall, the official M.A.C. website and a WeChat mini-program) were placed; and all five shades sold out across all sales channels within 24 hours of the launch.

The most popular mobile game in China – Honor of Kings

王者荣耀 (Wang Zhe Rong Yao, unofficial translated: Honor of Kings) is a multiplayer online battle arena game developed by Tencent, which was launched November 2015. Tencent’s 2016 annual report stated that the game had amassed 200 million registered mobile users, including more than 50 million daily active users. Honor of Kings has shown a very interesting demographic of the players: according to an estimation by data firm Jiguang, more than half of the players are female by May 2017; and in 2018, 63 percent of the Weibo viewers of the Honor of Kings pro league games were female.

cross-industry collaboration example in China

M.A.C and Honor of Kings five co-branded lipsticks

How did a world-class make-up brand and a Chinese mobile game decide to collaborate?

According to M.A.C China marketing director Weng Yanling, this cross-industry collaboration was inspired by the players of Honor of Kings. The cosmetics brand observed the players attempting to find lipstick shades that perfectly match the lip colors of their beloved game characters; these players mentioned M.A.C a  number of times. Moreover, the two brands share the same target audience, who are girls between the ages of 18 and 24.  These factors created a perfect opportunity for a cross-industry collaboration.

Also, five celebrities from an eleven-member Chinese girl group formed by Tencent in 2018, called “Rocket Girls 101”, participated in the marketing campaign. In the promotion poster, each of these five young stars presents a unique M.A.C lipstick color. In addition to make-up enthusiasts and fans of the game creating a stir, M.A.C and Tencent managed to make an even bigger buzz among Chinese young netizens through the celebrity’s endorsement.

Honor of Kings

Rocket girl M.A.C promotion videoAlso, five celebrities from an eleven-member Chinese girl group formed by Tencent in 2018, called “Rocket Girls 101”, participated in the marketing campaign. In the promotion poster, each of these five young stars presents a unique M.A.C lipstick color. In addition to make-up enthusiasts and fans of the game creating a stir, M.A.C and Tencent managed to make an even bigger buzz among Chinese young netizens through the celebrity’s endorsement. As a result, these celebrities have had a huge impact on young Chinese consumers; each Rocket Girl has several million followers on their personal Weibo accounts. Two of them even have over 17 million Weibo fans; while one of the Rocket Girl’s Weibo page achieved 4.7 million views and caused over 120K discussions after a 15-second promotion video for the M.A.C lipstick.

Cross-industry collaborations in China: Takeaways for foreign brands

As we can see from the results on Baidu Index, the search index of M.A.C has been stable for the last 6 months. After collaborating with the popular local game, the brand has successfully boosted its brand awareness among the Chinese people. So, what can be learned from this successful campaign and how it can be implemented?

M.A.C marketing company in China
M.A.C search frequency on Baidu index peaked on the day of the product launch (Jan. 8, 2019) [Source: Daxue Consulting]
  • For company/brand who is searching for more exposure, find a well-known Chinese brand with a similar target audience to launch a co-campaign. For brands already in the Chinese market, such collaboration could be used for new product promotion or just to boost the brand awareness; it could also be used for brands who seek a proper entrance into the Chinese market.
  • Thinking outside the box might help your brand stand out from the crowd. Brands from the e-sports and cosmetic industries becoming partners is something consumers don’t see much. When you can literally use the same lipstick colors as your favorite game characters, things are really getting interesting.
  • KOLs have a more powerful impact on Chinese consumers than their counterparts in the West. To further ensure the campaign’s success, recruiting the right celebrities/KOLs will help to push the collaboration to another level.
  • It was consumers who first mentioned M.A.C in the context of the game character lip colors. M.A.C was attentive to what target consumers were saying on social media and seized the opportunity. So, never cease to research and understand your consumers. Through social media listening, brands can achieve the same level of consumer insight that M.A.C demonstrated.

Author: Chencen Zhu


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Do not hesitate to reach out to our project managers at dx@daxueconsulting.com to get all answers to your questions.

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