Tmall, Alibaba Group’s business-to-consumer (B2C) online marketplace, is launching an experiential retail center in Shanghai’s popular shopping mall, K11. Visitors can take part in exclusive pop-up activations, immersive theatrical plays and live-band performances. Brands such as Bobbi Brown, Oral-B, Abercrombie & Fitch, Make Up Forever and Ballantine’s are among the first to leverage the experiential pop-ups designed to appeal to Chinese consumers.
Vans kicked off the opening of Tmall’s experiential retail center with a two-week urban art exhibition celebrating street culture. Complementing the exhibition is a workshop where shoppers can partake in the process of designing their sneakers via screen printing.
Earlier this summer, VF Corp., the parent company of Vans, The North Face and Timberland, announced it will utilize Tmall’s data-driven product development and marketing initiatives to reach Chinese customers. VF was the first apparel company to work with Tmall’s Innovation Center (TMIC)—an end-to-service platform that tracks trend discovery, consumer research and post-launch performance—in 2017 when it launched. TMIC has since partnered with 800 brands including L’Oréal, Shiseido, Samsung, Unilever and P&G.
To gauge interest in its experiential retail center, Tmall will send invitations to its premium customers which will provide brands with insight on how to engage them offline. The Tmall Experience Center marks the first of many to open later this year.
“As a key destination for brand-building, Tmall needs to help brands connect their members with their physical stores and events and bring one-of-a-kind experiences to consumers. Brands might feel reluctant to expand traditional retail stores to smaller cities, but they are very open to adopting this pop-up approach,” said Liu Bo, general manager of Tmall and Taobao Marketing.
There’s no shortage of brands delivering experiences that transcend traditional retail experiences developed for Chinese consumers. In 2018, Porsche offered Tmall shoppers the chance to test-drive its cars at its experience center in Shanghai, what has become the luxury auto brand’s fastest-growing market. This year, Isareli beauty brand Ahava hosted a live-streamed sales event on Tmall broadcast from the Dead Sea. The result? Ahava sold out all 14,000 of its newly launched hydrating mud masks just one minute into the session on Tmall. By the time the day was over, Ahava had become Tmall’s top-selling brand across three categories including facial masks, lip balm and body lotion.