Home Consumer Fabernovel’s Rachel Daydou on digital innovation in China

Fabernovel’s Rachel Daydou on digital innovation in China

From creating WeChat Mini Programs for Bulgari, Christie’s and Penhaligon’s, to organising Learning Expeditions for leadership teams, here's how Fabernovel is adapting to China's changing consumer landscape

by Celine Tang
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Ahead of China Consumer 2023, Focus speaks to Managing Director of innovative consulting company FaberNovel, Rachel Daydou, about digital innovation, WeChat Mini Programs, and why the Metaverse is the future

Rachel Daydou joined Fabernovel in late 2017 to develop the new activities brought by Fabernovel, namely innovation consulting and upskilling. Fabernovel China then acquired 31TEN in 2021, a tech agency specialising in WeChat Mini Programs.

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Tell us more about how Fabernovel entered the China market

We entered China as soon as our founder Stéphane Distinguin understood that powerful innovations were being born in this part of the world. He connected with Patrice Nordey, a serial entrepreneur who had founded a Shanghai-based agency pioneering digital marketing for luxury brands. This connection led to Fabernovel acquiring the business and formally entering the Chinese market.

What major successes and growth has Fabernovel experienced in that time? How about challenges?

One of our major successes was the development of Learning Expeditions, namely, immersions into the China innovation ecosystem for the cohesion, fast upskilling and alignment of leadership teams. Another major milestone was our pivot towards locally-based MNC clients after the closure of borders due to Covid-19, which entailed the development of new competencies, the acquisition of 31TEN (the leader in WeChat Mini Program conception and development) and many projects for the industry such as WeChat Mini Programs for Christie’s & Bulgari, Regenerate and Penhaligon’s market acceleration and localisation, and global Chinese consumer strategies for luxury travel retail brands.

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How critical is the China market to Fabernovel’s global strategy?

We see China as critical for two main reasons:

  1. It is an incredible laboratory for innovation and digital, driven by high levels of digital savviness among consumers, the super-app ecosystem and the fast-iterating entrepreneurial culture.
  2. Our clients, mainly luxury and beauty brands, are highly dependent on the China market and Chinese consumers, so succeeding there and connecting with global Chinese travellers are major key success factors, and we are happy to support them in this success.

What are your thoughts and reflections on the Chinese consumer landscape today, and how has this changed over the pandemic?

Many changes have occurred since China isolated itself from the rest of the world during the pandemic.

The China market has been disrupted
Some of China’s digital leaders have encountered increased government regulation over the past couple of years (notably Alibaba) and the e-commerce landscape is starting to fragment, with Tmall declining in popularity and short video platforms like Douyin soaring. We are also seeing a lot of new retail models blossoming, particularly among luxury and beauty brands.

Chinese Consumers have been transformed
Now that China’s borders have re-opened, confidence is on the way up. Nevertheless, the past few years of isolation have led many Chinese consumers to rediscover their home country, and more and more people are appreciating the relevance of domestic brands. Mind-blowing culture-specific trends are also emerging.

Travel has been re-invented
Luxury consumption has relocated to Hainan, and the destination has been premiumised. That being said, the reopening of the border has triggered strong outbound travel interest despite travel capacity bottlenecks. Post-pandemic, the Chinese travellers coming back to Europe are independent, sophisticated and have money to spend.

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What do you think will be the hottest consumer trends in China over the next five years?

The metaverse as a new space for creative expression and brand connection will be the main trend. As a new technology and tool, it still lacks use cases and users, but it will most definitely become an additional layer in the consumer-brand interaction.

Live streaming, which already accounts for 20% of China’s e-commerce market (the largest in the world with 1.5 trillion USD GMV in 2022), will continue to expand in use cases to integrate more of the brand-consumer relationship.

If you could give one piece of advice to UK consumer brands entering China, what would it be?

Localise your brand, communication, channels, content and partnerships. This is critical in a market that has strong pride in its culture and sophistication in consumer choices.

China Consumer 2023

This article was produced as part of a series for China Consumer 2023.

Learn more about CBBC’s flagship consumer event of 2023 here.

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