Looking back several months back, We Chat made an announcement regarding their partnership with GAP. This is in line with the company’s goal to create their own clothing line. This is the very first attempt of the company to launch branded merchandise which is officially under We Chat. This is just baby steps for the company because there are signs that point to the plan of We Chat to release We Stores in the near future.
During the annual conference held by We Chat at Guangzhou, the company hinted that they are pursuing the direction of merchandising by launching to the public a limited edition line composed of branded merchandise such as pins, stickers, notebooks and pillows.
The biggest hint they gave is that the public is going to expect additional products from We Stores. The company has registered We Store’s official account as well as a mini program. As of the moment, no additional information has been released yet. According to We Stores brief description, they are going to sell branded merchandise from We Chat and the test store location is based in Guangzhou which is the home city of We Chat.
Many are of the idea that We Chat’s decision to enter branded merchandising is because of the obvious success made by Line in the industry. The success is mainly brought by the cute characters incorporated into the branding of the messaging app. Line introduced 4 friends named James, Cony, Moon and Brown. These characters have been introduced as sticker packs during their launch in 2011.
The app is banned in China but it did not stop the company from opening Line Friends store in the country – in fact there are 11 of them. Their store in Shanghai is the most famous which gathers a long queue most of the time.
Line succeeded in using the characters for a new shopping experience which they followed on with mascot characters from their brand. In case of We Chat, stickers as well as characters were never their forte and the brand did not monetize them. It is still unsure whether the branded merchandise from We Chat will be patronized by the public.