H&M ties up with ZALORA in SEA to target about 400m consumers

H&M has selected ZALORA as its eCommerce partner in Southeast Asia, specifically Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia, and is set to reach about 400 million consumers. The partnership was first launched in Indonesia in mid-March, on 1 April in Malaysia and on 14 April in Singapore. Both parties have also extended the initial two-month collaboration in the Philippines, which began in the fourth quarter of 2020, to a long-term one. 

In line with the Malaysian launch, H&M ZALORA is offering consumers a 20% shopping discount when they spend at least RM159 and they will also receive 10% cash back from 1 to 3 April. H&M's spokesperson told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that its dedicated marketing communications plan for H&M ZALORA includes online advertising, social and PR pushes, influencer activation, and affiliate marketing, among others. These are done in collaboration with ZALORA, beginning with the teaser which was launched three days ago.

Without revealing the actual brand, the teaser was done to entice attention and engage customers with the tagline “Get ready for the biggest launch of the year. The only April 1 surprise you’ll want to get”, the spokesperson explained. The call to action was the sign up and pre-shop opportunity three hours prior to launch. Key fashion influencers were also sent mystery gift boxes with the URL, leading them to the brand site. The relaunch campaign for Philippines begins next week. The spokesperson declined to comment on the monetary value of the partnership and the ROI it has seen so far. 

Oldouz Mirzaie, regional manager of H&M South Asia and Pacific, said ZALORA compliments its extensive physical store portfolio as well as its digital stores at hm.com. "We see great potential for substantial future growth and ZALORA will be an important part of this to cater to the evolving needs and demands of our customers, so we can shape a more sustainable future for fashion and be even more locally relevant," Mirzaie added.

Meanwhile, ZALORA's CEO Gunjan Soni said it is excited to continue working with a globally renowned fashion brand like H&M. "We will leverage our deep local expertise and strong fulfilment and logistics network to support H&M as they continue their strategy of integrating offline and online retail," Soni added. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to ZALORA for additional information.

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Last July, ZALORA named m/SIX to manage media duties and in November, both parties rolled out a campaign in Malaysia and Singapore to cater specifically to consumers who are shifting from offline to online shopping. The campaign's main driver was to penetrate the consumers' psyche and frame ZALORA as their top of mind brand for everyday fashion. At the same time, it also took over Singapore's public transportation lines with DOOH banners in places such as bus shelters, MRT lines, train panels and taxi digital screens to create awareness and intercept shopping intenders to place ZALORA at the top of consumers' minds, as well as an alternative to offline purchases.

Separately, H&M found itself in a sticky situation recently after facing a backlash in China when it voiced concerns last year about alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The fashion said in a statement on due diligence that it is "deeply concerned by reports from civil society organisations and media that include accusations of forced labour and discrimination of ethnoreligious minorities in Xinjiang". H&M added that it strictly prohibits any type of forced labour in its supply chain, regardless of the country or region.

"If we discover and verify a case of forced labour at a supplier we work with, we will take immediate action and, as an ultimate consequence, look to terminate the business relationship," the brand added. According to Reuters, the statement was published last year.

Shortly after, Gao Feng, a spokesperson for China's Ministry of Commerce, said it hopes that the relevant businesses can "respect market rules, adjust their wrong actions and avoid the politicisation of business". H&M products were also reportedly removed from Alibaba and JD.com, said CNBC.

Amidst the online rage, H&M said in a statement yesterday that China is a very important market to the company and its long-term commitment to the country remains strong. "Having been present there for more than thirty years, we have witnessed remarkable progress within the Chinese textile industry. Being at the forefront of innovation and technology, China will clearly continue to play an important role in further developing the entire industry," the brand said.

H&M also said that as a global company, it complies with local laws and regulatory frameworks in all the markets where it operates. Its values are also built on trust, respect, integrity, and dialogue, and H&M said it wishes to focus on its core business and on what it does best.

"We are dedicated to regaining the trust and confidence of our customers, colleagues, and business partners in China. By working together with stakeholders and partners, we believe we can take steps in our joint efforts to develop the fashion industry, as well as serve our customers and act in a respectful way," H&M said.

In addition to H&M, other Western brands including Nike, adidas, and Burberry also faced boycott calls for raising similar concerns about Xinjiang. Multiple media reports including NBC News and CNBC said many users have called for the boycott of these brands on Weibo, and the hashtag #ISupportXJCotton has accumulated more than three million likes on the platform.

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