Last year, H&M released a statement which communicated its commitment to stop using cotton from the Xinjiang region due to its concerns on reports of forced labour in the far western region of Xinjiang. The statement has recently been resurfaced and is causing rising social buzz on China’s social media channels. H&M’s response to the statement on China’s Weibo had over 146,000 comments and 310,000 shares. Some social activists boycotted H&M and called for it to leave the Chinese market. There were also trending social topics in relation to similar brands who uses Xinjiang’s cotton. Topics on ‘H&M’ and ‘Xinjiang Cotton’ have become the leading social trends on China’s social media since last night.
China is H&M’s fourth-biggest market with sales of 2.9 billion Swedish crowns ($339 million) in the 12 months through November 2020. Other brands who gave statements on Xinjiang’s cotton such as Nike, Uniqlo, Adidas, New Balance, GAP, and Fila, etc., were also mentioned in 10s of millions of the social posts on China’s social media overnight. As the crisis continues, breaking news continues as celebrities and influencers step down as ambassadors of the brands, driving much online discussion.
As negative sentiment around related topics and content continues to heat up, voices around competing brands, such as Muji and LiNing announcing their support and use of Xingjiang cotton, have been promoted. Meanwhile, some brands who have announced they are quitting the BCI, have also received a lot of attention. Last night, a Japanese brand publicized that their products use Xinjiang’s cotton which resulted in a change to their ad creatives on related products across Chinese e-commerce platforms.
UMS’ Establish team is continuously monitoring this social trend and its social listening services have captured a number of hot topics on social media platforms. So, what have Chinese netizens been saying?
On Weibo, at 2:30pm CN time, hot topics included:
#Adidas has created 3.56 million mentions
#LiNing, a famous Chinese sport brand, has put Xingjiang cotton on its label created 1.35 million mentions
#Muji, a popular Japanese retail company highlighted Xingjiang cotton on Chinese e-commerce platforms and has created 1.33 million mentions
Other hot topics on other social media pages
#Chinese celebrities send statements to H&M & Nike, calling their resignation as brand ambassadors