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Gap Inc plans to strengthen online campaigns to build brand in China

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March 1
1:32 PM 2014

Before Gap Inc introduced its Old Navy label in China, the US retailer started an online campaign which asked its possible Chinese customers if the name Old Navy was familiar to them. Not many had heard of the brand, Reuters reported.

Amid tough competition emanating from H&M, Uniqlo and Zara, Gap opened its first Old Navy outlet in Shanghai on Saturday. In an interview with Reuters, Gap's Greater China President Jeff Kirwan said they intend to open five more Old Navy stores this year and add 80 Gap Stores to the 81 it already has in the world's second biggest clothing market, the report said.

With the lack of awareness about the brand a major issue with the local market, the Gap team in China intends to ramp up their efforts to promote the brand online. This will allow it to leverage on the fast growth of the e-commerce sector in China which comprises a huge part of the retail market, the report said.

Kirwan told Reuters, "We're putting a lot of attention into e-commerce for both brands."

From the looks of it, Gap will really need to work on the sector. Its account on Twitter-like microblogging platform Sina Weibo only has 86,000 fans compared with the 3.6 million followers of Uniqlo, the Japanese retailer owned by Fast Retailing. Gap's Old Navy brand, on the other hand, signed up on Weibo in January and to date, only has 3,700 followers, the report said.

Getting talked about in social media is apparently a huge plus for brands who want to succeed in the Chinese market. KPMG Asia Pacific Chairman for Consumer Markets Nick Debnam told Reuters, "If you can get a social media buzz in China it goes fast and wide, because Chinese people are very well connected. Without one, it's difficult for a consumer brand in China. It's almost a must I would say."

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