With more than 700 million consumers using it daily, brands targeting Chinese consumers need a WeChat strategy.

Would you try to sell new Minis on Facebook? Or how about Givenchy handbags on Twitter? Probably not.

But these are just two examples of the digital commerce activities taking place on Chinese app WeChat, and they are the tip of the iceberg in terms of the transactions and customer engagement that Western brands are developing via the platform.

WeChat is a cross between Facebook, Twitter, Uber and ApplePay among its many uses.

Brands can create Official Accounts – the WeChat equivalent of a verified account – and make use of the platform’s functionality, including the wallet, WeChat Pay, and even build an ecommerce store within their account.

“In just the same way that many flagship stores in major cities accept Union Pay and even Alipay, the next step could be to develop a WeChat presence”

Of WeChat’s 900 million users, 31% say they are happy to make purchases through the app. Market research business iResearch estimates that the gross merchandise value of items sold through WeChat will hit $74bn in 2017, and $147bn a year by 2019.

It’s also a platform for engaging consumers who want to complete their purchases through more traditional online and offline channels, especially through tie-ups with influencers.

Both the Mini and Givenchy sales of special edition products via WeChat were run in conjunction with bloggers. And it’s not just for brands that have Chinese stores or a localised Chinese site.

If Chinese tourists visit your stores in other parts of the world, or can buy your goods through an international site, then WeChat could be for you too.

In just the same way that many flagship stores in major cities accept Union Pay and even Alipay, the next step could be to develop a WeChat presence, and maybe accept payment in-store via WeChat too.

One brand to see the potential of WeChat is designer outlet centre operator McArthurGlen, which has created a WeChat presence to target Chinese tourists when they are planning to visit Europe and encourage them to visit one of its centres.

McArthurGlen shares content such as fashion news, promotions, travel tips and centre information through its account.

Followers can also download vouchers – for free shuttle bus transfers or ‘red packet’ cash –  which they can redeem when they visit McArthurGlen’s centres.

So, whether you want to attract domestic or tourist spend from Chinese consumers, it’s worth examining how WeChat could play a role in your strategy.

Joanna Perry

Joanna Perry is head of marketing at Practicology