Puckababy’s elegantly designed baby sleep products have been a hit among mothers in Europe for over ten years. The brand is ready to win over design and quality savvy Chinese mums. China Director Fabian Nijlant explains how a Tmall Global Store, WeChat, Weibo and Little Red Book fit into the plan to make Puckababy the most popular premium baby sleep brand in China.
Welcome to the world of cradles, swaddles, wraps, newborn sleeping bags, sleepsuits, pyjamas and even anti-leak bodysuits. “Puckababy plays a niche market where design-aware mums find comfortable and smart sleeping products for their littles ones”, Fabian Nijlant explains. He wholeheartedly embraced the Puckababy brand when he got involved via his China marketing business Playhead. Since then, he participated into the brand that he wants to make a big hit in China.
Successful trade mission
It was a successful Alibaba trade mission to China – with 150 other companies – that started the Chinese adventure about 1.5 years ago. “Puckababy was one of the participants in this ‘familiarization trip’. Tmall’s consultants and experts picked out Puckababy as a brand with an enormous potential in China – because the lack of premium baby sleep products. Several Chinese media interviews followed, and Puckababy was featured in magazines and newspapers. This was the push the company needed to take the big step.”
The baby & mum segment in China is a clear and growing market, with millions of mums that want the best for their little one. “It is a popular cross-border category”, says Nijlant, “and Puckababy can benefit from the trust that Chinese parents have in European products.”
Backbone of the operation
From the moment the investment plan for China was initiated, it was clear that a Tmall Global Store would be the backbone of the Chinese operation. “As opening up our own brick-and-mortar store was out of the question, e-commerce via the established and well-trusted Tmall platform was the prime option. As we did not envision setting up our own organization to handle the practicalities of the business, partnering with Tmall seemed logical. For a fee, this company takes care of many activities such as payment handling and logistics, a route that many international brands have followed before us.”
After having closed the deal with Tmall, Nijlant knew the hard work was yet to come. “Having your own e-retail space on Tmall is like having your shop window in a part of an online shopping that customers have not discovered yet. We decided to focus our promotion on a mix of social media, to targeted by both our own Chinese staff in The Netherlands as well as locally active partners. Our goal, reaching the mums that live in first-tier cities with above-average incomes and with an interest in premium products for small kids.”
WeChat, Weibo and XiaoHongShu
In China, the mix currently consists mainly of advertising on Tmall and promotion on WeChat, Weibo and XiaoHongShu, also known as Little Red Book. Nijlant: “No one can run a business in China without a decent presence on WeChat, as it is the most popular multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app in China. Weibo, China’s immensely popular microblogging solution, offers a great way to interact with our audience with videos, much like Facebook”, says Fabian, who is fond of Weibo’s advertising options and its easy connection with the Tmall store.
An interesting choice is Puckababy’s launch on Little Red Book. Fabian Nijlant is particularly fond of this booming Chinese social media app. “It looks a lot like Instagram, with an emphasis on visual content from international brands. We can show our designs there and interact with our target groups, while offering direct buying options. Little Red Book fits us like a glove.”
As business is beginning to pick up, the customers’ preferences are beginning to show. “It is wonderful to notice that interest in certain products like our ‘Bag 4 Seasons’ – a sleeping bag that can be adapted for all-year use – is growing. However on a small scale, interaction with our audience is working.” Similarly, the number of shipments from Puckababy’s warehouse in Europe is picking up.
To keep the flow alive, Puckababy’s Chinese-language social media experts in The Netherlands and Shanghai will need to work 24/7. Fabian’s staff still have plenty of new ideas to try.
Beyond that, Nijlant expects that Puckababy can benefit greatly from teaming up with one of the major department store brands in China. “Brick-and-mortar retail can contribute, additional to our e-commerce efforts”, Nijlant insists, “like showcasing our products and live interaction with our customers.” Puckababy’s China Director emphasizes that a current and successful strategy should not be carved in stone. “We are aware that, as the future unfolds, new opportunities both inside and outside China’s social media arena may come up. We need to be ready to take advantage of them.”