Alibaba’s e-commerce empire, tmall, has launched a new zone on its mobile app dedicated to digital collectibles. Above all, this move illustrates that the NFT boom in China is officially underway.
In the first round of drops, more than 50 virtual collections from a total of 40 brands, including Burberry, PUMA and Versace, debuted on the platform. Tmall also counts on the blind box marketing strategy to strengthen the launch. Consumers who make a purchase from a participating brand, such as designer toy maker Ipstation, receive a digital blind box with a corresponding virtual toy from the label. Each toy contains a series of interactive elements that can be experienced using augmented reality devices.
And it’s not a one-off launch: Alibaba has indicated that more digital collectibles will be added to the platform in the future. In fact, Tmall has been active in the industry before. In honor of the mid-year 618 shopping extravaganza, it was released “Tmall No.1 Schedule” with 15 internationally renowned brands, including Burberry and KFC. Each brand used Tmall’s iconic cat logo and the image was sold as a unique digital asset, sparking massive online interest among netizens and over 210 million views of the campaign hashtag on Weibo.
These efforts come as Chinese startups and tech giants go to war in space. First, niche competitor Xiaohongshu’s special collectibles platform R-Space builds on its virtual community through monetization models, hyper-realistic digital clothing try-ons, and gamified collectibles for an enhanced user experience.
But despite the signs that this is becoming China’s next fad, luxury is still hesitant to tap into the mainland’s Web3 market. In conjunction with the launch of its brick-and-mortar toy pop-up toy store in Shenzhen, Dior unveiled a range of NFTs on China’s collectibles market HZ.Creat last month. The decline was almost completely concealed with minimal marketing efforts, signals that brands want to innovate in the local meta-market, but are ultimately proceeding cautiously. Indeed, under Beijing’s close watch, companies face uncertainty about how to take the next step in the metaverse and cultivate a digital ecosystem.
This is a way for names to experiment in a low-risk environment. Unlike competitors, Tmall’s model prioritizes the purchase of actual products and gives away digital collectibles for free. It’s a smart way for the conglomerate to boost physical sales while expanding its virtual ecosystem and laying the groundwork for a loyal consumer base in the metaverse.
In addition, the model allows consumers to dip their toes into the world of Web3 in no time less risky, tastier. Customers cannot buy or resell the collectibles themselves, increasing the risk of being involved in controversy or violating the the country’s Web3 rulebook† The launch proves there’s still room for luxury to leverage its presence in the Chinaverse — and keep pace with netizen’s insatiable demands — as it navigates the market’s regulatory minefield.