After hundreds of millions of consumers cleared out all the items in their shopping carts during the 11/11 Singles’ Day shopping carnival, e-commerce company Alibaba is doubling down on the concept with a second shopping-culture event in December, 12/12. This time — in a move that’s not too surprising, but definitely welcomed by fans — hip-hop has been chosen as one of the event’s themes, and the company expects this trending music genre to make shopping on Taobao more entertaining and engaging.
If you open the Taobao app between now and 12/12, you’ll find a colorful “Play Music” button on the top of the homepage. Click it, and you’re sent to an AR interface with a smiling sausage, shiny high heels, and flying rockets flooding out of the screen.
Check out this video posted to Weibo by producer Harikri to feel the vibe
Original hip-hop tracks play in the background, with several young artists rapping about their own experiences and stories with Taobao, all starting with the same opening line: “Taobao, where all treasures are.” All of the songs were conceived, written, and recorded in one month — this is how efficiently the Chinese internet works.
“What makes rappers different from other singers is that they’re talented at writing their stories and expressing themselves,” said Ding Hou, an employee in Taobao’s marketing department who worked on this promotion.
Lu1 (above), a jazz rapper who graduated from UCLA with Master’s degree in Computer Science — and an online shopaholic, apparently — wrote a sad love story about his ex-girlfriend leaving un-bought stuff in the shopping cart and her shipping address on his Taobao account in “Default Address”. Bohan Phoenix, a Chinese-American bilingual rapper whose recent JALA EP has taught many Americans the phrase 加辣 (“add spice”), talks about how Taobao has helped him in “Sauce”:
You want the sun or the moon? Let’s search on Taobao
If we can’t find what you want there, I really have no idea [where to find it]
“His story, along with his overseas background, embody Taobao’s worldwide impact as a Chinese company,” Ding Hou told Radii. “Before The Rap of China, we’d noticed a considerably increasing dominance of hip-hop and electronic music in China’s music market over the past three years. Alibaba, as such a huge platform, can create superstars as well.”
Here Ding is referring to rapper BEIBEI (贝贝), a member of Xi’an rap crew HHH that didn’t make it as far on The Rap of China China as his teammate PG One, but still earned a significant following. BEIBEI’s trap rap for Taobao, “I Create”, has been reposted on Weibo 73,000 times and counting — it’s performing even better than newly-minted “data queen” VAVA’s “One Second World”, in which she raps about international shopping via Taobao.
In a collaboration between two cultural and entertainment platforms both owned by Alibaba, the Xiami music streaming site joined Taobao for this project, contributing the track “Two Dimensional Creature” by GALI. This Shanghai rapper is another Chinese internet success story: he was discovered in Season 2 of Project XG, a music competition hosted by Xiami and judged by both music industry professionals and everyday users. GALI first gained notice after dissing The Rap of China in a track called “Illusion Freestyle”, and became a winner on Project XG with his single “Sober Life”.
“Compared with other content promotion methods, like live streaming, variety shows and short videos, music is something you can repeatedly listen to,” said Ding. “So why not shop online to music that’s about what we’re doing? Actually, some users on Xiami or Weibo have said that when they’re listening to the music from this promotion, they subconsciously want to open Taobao.”
“Why not shop online to music that’s about what we’re doing?” — Ding Hou, Taobao marketing department
As for the AR component, Ding says that “it helps consumers feel like singing along with the rappers in a fun way. They are not only shopping on Taobao — they’re also listening to good music, playing, and having fun.”
While many might view this collaboration as overly commercial, according to Taobao it has already proven a hit with its target audience: the Post-’95s, or people born after 1995. This demographic block is viewed as the most powerful group on the internet in China today, willing to try every new technology and express themselves in every new way. Their behavior has even led to the creation of a new term: Fan Economics. As Angela Yao, another member of Taobao’s marketing team, told Radii: “How to attract them and other consumers to spend more time on Taobao is what concerns us the most.”