March 1st, 2018
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Let’s face it. Sharing a gift for a friend or colleague always stems from good intentions – but finding someone to share the cost of the gift with, and eventually splitting the bill in a way that everyone is agreeable with, can be quite tiresome.

Which is why Swarovski’s new Mini Program on WeChat comes as such a breath of fresh air. Created in collaboration with its digital agency in China, DLG, the Mini Program introduces a crowd-funding concept for its products – and comes just in time for the Chinese New Year festivities (where naturally, gifting comes with the territory).

The idea of this Mini Program came from the good folks at WeChat, who noted that the changing spending patterns and preferences of young consumers called for an innovative way to reach out to them. This is the first time the social media giant has launched a crowd-sourcing model on its platform, and it is currently exclusive to Swarovski.

Not unlike how well known crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo work, the Mini Program allows a user to pick an item for a friend (or for herself, really) and start a fund-gathering campaign. Users may input a paragraph of text below the item specifications, explaining why others should help fund the purchase of this gift and whom it is intended for.

After which, users have the option of sharing the campaign with their friends on WeChat with the “Seek funding from friends” button on the bottom left of the page. They may also start contributing to the campaign with a tap of the button on the right, and select an amount to contribute. Payment is handled through the platform’s native mobile payment method WeChat Pay, making the entire transaction seamless and quick.

True to the crowd-funding model, there is no limit to the number of participants in a campaign. There is, however, a time limit that should be taken note of. Each item can only be held for up to 6 hours, after which it is returned to the inventory for other users to start funding campaigns with. Should a campaign expire before reaching its targeted goal (i.e. the price of the product selected), all users who put in money will have their contributions refunded automatically. Users will also be sent system notifications reminding them of the funding gap closer to the deadline.

In a clear indication of how successful this Swarovski Mini Program is with the Chinese audience it has been presented to, over 1956 requests to start a crowd-funding campaign were made within an hour of its launch on Sunday. Of this number, 512 campaigns were successfully started – basically its entire online inventory. The other requests were temporarily put on hold simply due to the lack of inventory stemming from the overwhelming response.

After users started the funding campaigns, payments for items hit a peak between 10:00pm to 10:30pm on the same day. Over 59 payments were made on that day.

“This idea of group gifting was inspired by the pervasiveness of social media in today’s society, especially among the younger generation. We wanted to offer an interesting and convenient way for people to gift others,” explains Elsa Wang, Swarovski China’s Head of Communications. “And so while we are thrilled by the public’s enthusiasm for this crowd-funding model on our Mini Program, we are even happier that this can help encourage the spirit of gifting loved ones over the festive season.”

Now, can someone please help fund that necklace we like so much?