Crest was facing a big challenge in the market after launching in China 20 years ago. On one hand, Crest is perceived as a “mother’s brand” among consumers under 25 years old and the brand is losing young generation consumers. On the other hand, Crest’s market share has been shrinking over the past five years because of fierce competition in the point-of-sale.
In terms of young consumer insight, this age group are really keen on following their favourite celebrities via social media platforms. Fans talk to their idols directly via their social accounts which really excites young Chinese people. Young fans psychologically project their desires in interaction with the celebrity. They are willing to contribute both their efforts and money to grow their celebrity by organising or taking part in idol-supporting activities via online. And they will follow their idol’s call to action.
Furthermore, young Chinese consumers show a different approach to the involvement with the toothpaste category. Chinese young girls (under 25 years) think teeth is part of beauty so teeth whitening and orthodontic has an increasing need. Crooked and yellow teeth make them feel embarrassed especially in some important occasions e.g. dating. Therefore, they start choosing toothpaste with superiority on teeth whitening instead of just focusing on oral hygiene needs.
Leveraging idols’ impact on young consumers and inspiring their beauty desires on Crest Whitening toothpaste were strategic directions to drive young consumer preference and convert this into sales.
The business objective was to grow market share amongst young people. To achieve the objectives, Starcom’s communication strategy was to leverage a powerful celebrity to develop in-depth and scalable engagement with young girls to drive brand preference with immediate purchase conversion.
To make the engagement strategy successful, it was critical to have the right celebrity who has strong call-for-action power to fans and a strong association with Crest whitening beauty equity. The hero of the engagement should therefore meet three criteria:
a) Mass impact with millions+ followers in social media;
b) Active engagement with fans;
c) Fans profiles consistent with Crest’s grow young need.
It invited Lu Han, one of the most powerful male superstars in terms of popularity in young female and active fans on social platforms, to be Crest’s new celebrity to engage his fans and Crest young consumers. Lu Han has 26 million followers on his social account, 70% of whom are females under 25.
Secondly, a dedicated engagement journey was designed to engage Lu’s fans with a limited edition package of Crest. Starting from fans wish list, the agency developed a series of viral video engagement and closure engagement with Lu Han’s limited edition package and delivered this to fans.
Thirdly, Starcom strategically defined social media as the key battlefield for the campaign. Weibo is the key social media to engage the core TA – Lu Han’s fans, and leverage the fan power to create social buzz. By adding a paid media resource within Weibo and outside platform, it was able to boost the campaign to become a hot topic on Weibo and further spread out beyond the celebrity’s fan group to reach a broader TA.
Leveraging fans economy, limited editions specifically redirected fans to two key e-customers and one offline customer, which would strategically convert fans passion to purchase.
At the pre-launch step, to drive consumers’ curiosity, a short teaser was released. Luhan talked to his fans, “I am having a special task in next month with Crest, stay tuned with me”. Meanwhile, an online voting engagement was launched on the Internet in order to encourage fans to engage in the campaign and following Crest.
At campaign launch, Luhan announced “I am looking for my diamond shine girl, follow Crest to know more” on Weibo. In the meantime, the details of the campaign were also introduced by Crest. It drove fans’ excitement and social topics on the Weibo social platform.
Then three whitening moment viral videos, performed by Lu Han, were released sequentially. The popularity of Luhan caused the campaign to become a heated discussion on Weibo.
Besides Weibo, more mainstream digital platforms were applied for marketing the campaign to build boarder reach on young female, including Youku Lu Jan’s channel, top post of Baidu Tieba of Lu Han, and StarTV.
Additionally, consumers could get three versions of the “Lu Han Specific Package” limited edition during the campaign period, which corresponded to the three videos. Furthermore, the opportunity of meeting Lu Han in person was also used to drive fans to purchase Crest.
In the final step, by collecting the three packages and scanning the QR code on them, consumers would have a chance to meet Lu Han. This incentive triggered sales of the limited package.
Media Performance Result: The key engagement activities on Weibo achieved 270,000,000 impressions in total. The engagement videos got 120,000,000 viewership. Over 60% were organic, driven by the social distribution. And 2,000,000 people interacted with Crest for Lu Han engagement activities.
The Crest X Lu Han campaign achieved strong engagement to fans with the social connection index of 32,358 - an index to measure how frequently Crest is mentioned when talking about Lu Han. This is a significantly outstanding performance, benchmarking with Lu Han another commercial campaign in the same period, where the social connection index was only 660, with 16 times higher monitored media spending than the Crest X Lu Han campaign did.
The campaign successfully drove young consumer’s preference. Within young females (aged 18-35) Top-of-Mind-Awareness grew to 25% - 2% higher than all females (aged 18-55).
The limited edition package really engaged the fans: 1,000 packs sold out in just eight seconds on JD.com, and Crest became the No.1 toothpaste brand in the e-supermarket; brand share of sales grew from 9.6% to 10.8% in Tmall.com Supermarket, 2.4 times vs. targeted goal. The engagement mechanism help Crest to win 250+ free offline shelf display resource and recorded 1% share growth.