The improvement in the air quality of China's cities caught the country's home environment purification market off-guard. Chinese ecommerce giant JD's new approach augurs a transformation of the industry, setting the stage for a comeback that addresses the new challenges
BEIJING, June 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Long periods of unhealthy air conditions due to smog have been a consistent feature of China's urban landscape, with such conditions having become most persistent since 2013, spurring the rapid growth of the country's indoor air purification market. However, as the Chinese government's efforts to control air pollution have intensified, notable periodic improvements were achieved in 2017, with the environment quality showing demonstrative improvement across many of China's cities. This has presented itself as a challenge to the air purification industry after many years of rapid growth. The key players have been looking for a new approach to revitalize the beleaguered sector.
The 2018 air purification industry summit sets the stage for a comeback
JD.com, Inc., the largest retailer in China's air purification industry, shoulders the responsibility of leading industry development and creating a new sales scenario. On May 25, 2018, the retailer brought together more than 40 leading air purification industry players across China, including Philips, Blueair and Honeywell, for the aptly named 2018 JD Air Purification Industry Development Summit.
In view of the current challenges facing the industry, participants at the forum openly exchanged opinions and discussed how to best implement JD's advantages in big data and sales channels as well as its open empowerment strategy across the country's various air purification brands under what is being referred to in China as the era of "unbounded retail" (defined as "using all available offline and online channels to create a positive seamless experience for the consumer"), putting in place the elements that could lead to an entire new cycle of growth and development for the air purification industry.
What was made abundantly clear during the summit was that consumer trends are indicating without a doubt that "one solution fits all" is no longer a viable strategy, as consumers are breaking down into categories or groups, each with their own set of expectations and demands. JD and its air purification brands need to move beyond all traditional thinking in terms of product portfolios, rethink strategies in order to meet the varying expectations from each category of consumer, and make use of JD's "empowerment" strategy to reshape the traditional framework of "people, goods and markets", jointly creating an entirely new experience for consumers when it comes to the topic of air purification.
As a result, JD launched the JD June 2018 Air Feast campaign together with several major air purification brands, marking the official beginning of a new effort to leverage the "unbounded retail" trend that links online and offline with a focus on optimizing each touch point with the consumer as well as the end-to-end customer experience.
The culmination of the JD June '18 Air Feast campaign -- the opening of the JD Air Restaurant
On June 8th, the opening ceremony of the JD Air Restaurant was held in Beijing's 751 art district and attracted wide attention across multiple market segments, reflecting the success of the campaign. The opening ceremony represented a new method and new attempt to leverage the concept of unbounded retail and the integration of online and offline channels, with the goal of delivering an entirely new sensory experience to consumers.
An AI-powered robot, dubbed "L'il Luo", was the attention getter at the event, engaging with audience members without a moment's hesitation throughout the festivities. Luo's song and dance routine ended with a well-earned round of applause from the audience. In addition, a master in the art of traditional ventriloquism, an intangible cultural heritage going back to the Song Dynasty, delivered a natural voice ventriloquism performance, going beyond the boundaries of the senses to let the air be "heard", drawing the attention of attendees to the importance of clean air and a healthy living environment. The performance was a turning point in terms of the atmosphere of the opening ceremony. Awareness of the June '18 air purification campaign was further raised through an online live broadcast, arousing curiosity about the air restaurant.
Online and offline linkage of the air restaurant unlocks new opportunities for unbounded retail
The JD Air Restaurant -- a restaurant that serves air rather than food -- drew attention at first simply as a result of the curiosity factor, with many attendees wanting to sample the available fare. Based on an extremely simple design concept, the air restaurant consists of five special spaces: a bar counter, a dining area, a film and television area, a shopping area and a kitchen area, with a distinctive air bottle bar design and air experience bottle design that drew the most attention from the participants.
In the interactive experience segment, the air restaurant menu offered six exclusive air meals: Air at 300 feet above the clouds, Air from a pristine environment, Air from the "science and technology" cuisine, Air over a flat boat while out on the open water, Air from the arctic -- a precursor to romance, and Air infused by seawater visited by salmon. Participants can experience the clean air through a special suction device, enjoying the air meal in much the same way that a succulent food meal would be enjoyed, while, at the same time, watching the video to enhance the enjoyment of the selected air delicacy, fully experiencing the sensory air feast.
Similar to what would be experienced through the online channel, users who order offline can also enjoy the discount price on offer during the June '18 campaign. The follow-up launch of the air restaurant H5 gave potential shoppers the opportunity to explore the kitchen of the air restaurant and discover the production secrets of the air meal, enabling them to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of clean air and air purification products. The event was the culmination of a comprehensive marketing campaign through the linkage of online and offline efforts.
The kick-off of unbounded retail opens up a new era for the air purification industry
The new shopping scenario has arrived. JD's air feast campaign has proven to be a successful attempt by China's air purification industry to rethink the methodology for stimulating market demand, and sets the framework by which, given the current market environment, the transformation of product, marketing promotion and strategy leading to a market transition can take place. It not only removes the boundary between product experience and consumption, but also integrates the new marketing model created by online and offline marketing channels in the new era characterized by unbounded industry, channel, demand and experience, successfully launching the journey into the next era -- the industry's 2.0 era.