Today, luxury would be nothing without the tremendous sales generated by Asia, and especially China. According to Bain & Company, the Chinese should account for 50% of the worldwide luxury purchase in 2025. In our fast-moving and hyper-digitalized world, 2025 is tomorrow.  China is evolving fast; more and more people improved their living conditions. The middle class is rising while the lower-tier cities are booming. The potential audience for luxury purchases became even wider and you have to understand the preferences, habits, and expectations of Chinese luxury shoppers. They are not blind to their purchasing power. They take time to analyze the brands and products through better access to information and high-quality content shared on social media. China is definitely a good opportunity to seize. This is not an open bank where you can make easy money, it is a unique country of people with expectations and preferences.

Contents

THE FIRST MARKET FOR LUXURY… IS CHINA 

In the Western mind, China is a land of opportunity. People are looking for the last trendy brand in Europe, the last best-selling luxury bag, and the last trend to catch on. In China, the figures are totally crazy and overpass anyone’s dream. A limited-edition bag of Burberry was sold out in 10 minutes, while the New York Fashion Week was live streaming watched by 90 million people in China.  As we always say to our clients “In China, everything is possible, but nothing is easy”.

MARKETING TO CHINA AGENCY

We are the top and most visible Web & Marketing Agency for China you will find on the web. Our Services: E-Commerce, Search Engine Optimization, Advertising, Weibo, WeChat, WeChat Store & PR.

A shift in Luxury Consumption Habits in China

Since the majority of luxury sales will be generated in China in the coming years, luxury brands are taking care of their Chinese audience. The 2021 movement of #StopAsianHate# after the violent incidents against Asians in the US and in Europe is a symbol of such a concern.

“We at Dior stand in solidarity with our Asian community”.

Today, luxury brands cannot neglect their Asian audience if they want to maintain growth. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of luxury brands maintained sales thanks to China. 

How do they purchase then? Chinese luxury shoppers used to travel a lot to benefit from low taxes and unique client service. Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, they switched from overseas purchases to home purchases. Any luxury brand looking to perform in China needs to seduce and attract Chinese… in China. To do so, it is essential to understand Chinese culture and national pride. What do you know about China? Know the dreams and preferences of the Chinese is key to perform in China.

China’s middle-class expansion

Chinese customers who can afford luxury items are growing. In 2015, China’s middle class represented 57% of the economy. They are expected to reach 75% by 2030. These figures indicate there will be no slowdown in this market as the Chinese avidly embrace new lifestyles and new consumption habits. According to a recent survey, the majority of luxury shoppers are going to favor fashion and jewelry over leather goods or bags. These two categories will drive the expansion and growth of the luxury market.

More and more Chinese will show interest in luxury and affordable luxury. Having a low-price entry point in a luxury assortment is key to target these newcomers in the luxury market. It is essential to target, seduce, and engage with them to build a strong audience in the future.

The rise of Chinese Lower Tiers Cities

Constant economic growth favored the development of lower-tier cities in China. Luxury brands used to head towards Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, etc… The first-tier cities were swamped by luxury flagship stores, popups, and events. While the lower-tier cities were taken out of the picture with limited access to luxury brands and luxury items unless they travel in China. The Gen Z from Tier 2, 3, and 4 cities will contribute a lot to the luxury market through social marketplaces and e-commerce platforms. Young people in these lower-tier cities are often the unique child in their families and benefit from a high revenue to upgrade their consumption. 

Toughest Competition in the world

China is the most competitive market in the world. Any brand entering Greater China will face 7 times more competition anywhere else in the world. For the luxury segment, such competition is even tougher since the market is dominated by luxury giants which benefit from global awareness and impressive campaigns. The “white space” between affordable luxury and aspirational luxury is becoming even more complex to fill. The luxury giants are taking all the market shares, leaving less room for smaller international brands. 

The key in this fragmented market is to revamp the products’ access price… and be ready to fight. Any brand looking to entering the market needs to understand they will enter the most competitive market in the world. How do you set yourself apart? Why should Chinese consumers select you? 

Combination of Offline and Online Shopping

Digital is everywhere in China. The giant Alibaba even created the term “New Retail” to designate how online and offline are becoming interdependent to offer a unique experience to customers. Only 4% of Chinese shoppers will have an “offline only” purchasing journey. Basically, they search for information online, interact with the brand through social media and purchase the product online or offline. The Chinese Gen Z favors integrated e-commerce platforms to do their online shopping. 

Today, 80% of Chinese prefer to buy online when it comes to… luxury. All the luxury brands understood this well and decided to set up digital flagship stores, live streaming sessions, digital events, gaming, etc. The boundaries do not exist anymore between you and your client.  

THE LUXURY MARKET IN CHINA: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR INTERNATIONAL BRANDS

The clock is ticking for international brands in search of a new market to conquer. China is a land of opportunity for international brands… and Chinese brands. There are more and more local Chinese luxury brands emerging across different categories to take on the market. What is their main asset? They know everything about China and the Chinese shoppers. They have figured everything out while international brands are still trying to get it right. 

Fast Growing Weatlth

China is the country counting more billionaires than anywhere else in the world. Today, there are 992 billionaires in China, more than the US and India combined. When we talk about an increase of wealth among Chinese people, we do not talk about a couple of RMB, we talk about hundreds or thousands of dollars. According to Equité, 400 million additional Chinese will have the means to purchase luxury items in the next 20 years. This evolution is key. It is more than the total population of the USA, having all the financial stability to purchase luxury sales in each and every category. 

Quest of a luxury lifestyle to “show-off”

In China, the cultural concept of “Mianzi” is essential to understand the consumption of luxury. The term Mianzi literally means the “face”. In other words, it is essential for any Chinese to keep his/her face and his/her honor in any situation (You are also supposed to be giving face). This is tightly linked to reputation and prestige. Purchasing luxury items is a symbol of prestige and social status and accumulated wealth. The more you take care of your appearance and lifestyle, the more you show to the world you succeed.

In the coming years, we should see a shift from a way to show off to personal pleasure.  The purchasing factors for Chinese are now well-being, happiness, and experience. They will probably no longer want to own a luxury item for the sake of it but look for a unique experience and social impact.  

Target empowered and independents women

Chinese women are spending more than ever before (Their annual spending is expected to rise from RMB3.3 trillion in 2017 to RMB8.6 trillion by 2022). They represent a significant segment for luxury, household, self-improvement, leisure, baby products (RMB367 billion in 2016, expected to double in 2021), and the cosmetics market. The main structural change that occurred is the higher education and greater participation of Chinese women in the workforce in recent years. Today, they have the financial autonomy to support their own decision and personal purchase. By comparison, 56% of women completed secondary school compared to 46% of men. For the luxury market, the modern Chinese woman is key to generate growth. 

Chinese independent women are particularly sensitive to brand reputation and storytelling. They go through social media, recommendations from the community, discussions with friends, content, and products comparison to motivate their purchase. But reputation is different from mass recognition. They are looking for niche brands with distinctive styles rather than a global giants to act like everyone else. Understand your target and make a difference. 

Engage with Chinese Millenials

Born between 1980 – 1995, Millennials are the leading force of the luxury market in China. According to a recent survey, they should account for 40% of global luxury sales by 2024. In China, they represent the larger consumer group with over 350 million highly connected people. Millennials are driving the digital explosion in China through live streaming and disruptive content. 

Data by McKinsey

Chinese Millennials are sensitive to brands’ content and experience. They are always looking for inspiring stories and insightful official accounts to engage with. International brands often make the mistake to use their social media to sell rather than to engage in discussion. Millennials rely on community recommendations and word-of-mouth. They will always favor a brand they can interact with over a sophisticated brand that remains distant. Any luxury brand should favor WeChat, Weibo, Little Red Book, Douyin, live streaming, and mobile games to engage with Chinese Millennials.  

Seduce the Chinese Gen Z

Born between 1996 – 2010, Generation Z is the truly global generation open to new trends and habits coming from the West. They are always looking for new, disruptive, and imported brands. Since the Covid-19 crisis, the Chinese youth is becoming more health-conscious and environmentally aware. They considered the global pandemic to be a sign of Mother Nature to watch out for the next generation. With new concerns and expectations, Gen Z is changing the face of luxury. They stand out against animal testing, fur, environmental impact, etc.

According to McKinsey, the Chinese Gen Z will account for 20% of the total spending growth in China by 2030. It is essential to understand their opinions and expectations to avoid any backlash. They love to discover new brands, try new products, and purchase the same items as stars and KOLs. The best strategy to target the Chinese Gen Z is to select Key Opinion Leaders and Stars. Regarding the success of K-Drama and K-Pop among Chinese youth, luxury brands are heading towards Korean celebrities to maximize their audience in China… but also in Asia. 

DEEP DIVE INTO CATEGORIES: LUXURY IS DRIVEN BY FASHION AND JEWELRY IN CHINA

In the world of luxury, each segment is facing its own opportunities and challenges. Obviously, there is no such comparison to the West when we talk about the more dynamic segments. Each luxury category is thriving with a strong growth rate and solid customer base. But Chinese firm favorite is constantly evolving. From the dynamic sector of luxury, it seems that fashion and jewelry will face a great demand and opportunity. 

The Luxury & Fashion Market in China

In China, the annual revenue of luxury fashion will reach 8 billion USD in 2021. The annual growth rate of the market is expected to be +6% for the coming year. In the Chinese consumer’s minds, the top 5 luxury fashion brands are Chanel, Hermès, Gucci, Dior, and Louis Vuitton. These brands have higher brand awareness and success in Mainland China and Hong Kong. The key to seduce and attract Chinese consumers to luxury fashion brands is to have a unique and appealing design and share an inspiring history or story of the brand. 

In 2021, the face of luxury fashion will evolve. China is entering the era of secondhand with dedicated mobile apps like Plum and influencers’ endorsements. The top KOL Viya shared with her community her last purchase of a secondhand luxury bag saying, “who will see the difference between a brand new Louis Vuitton bag and a secondhand one”. Chinese Gen Z and Millennials are more sensitive to the impact of the fashion industry on the planet and look after new consumer habits. Secondhand is definitely a trend to watch.

According to the China University of International Business and Economy, secondhand luxury reaches by comparison 28% of sales in Japan and 31% of sales in the USA.

In the meantime, the boundaries between fashion and luxury are fading. The 2020 collaboration Gucci x The North Face is a tremendous success in China. These brands introduced a campaign portraying an “urban hiker”, bringing the mountains in the city. It catches all the attention on social media, generating tons of reactions by the Chinese. Today, people want to differentiate by their consumption. For the average Chinese luxury shopper, purchasing a Chanel tweed jacket is not enough to differentiate from 1.4 billion people anymore. You need to have a unique style and be ahead of trends. The key is now to “mix and match” their style by incorporating fashion into luxury, which explains the success of Off White in China. 

Bags & Leather Goods

The annual revenue of luxury leather goods in China is expected to reach 8 billion USD in 2021. The market is expected to grow by an annual rate of 7%. The top 5 bags and leather goods brands are Hermès, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Dior for Chinese consumers. By far, Hermès has the most important brand awareness for the leather goods category. This is mainly due to the unique item design and brand reputation in China. For Chinese consumers, design and materials are the main information they are interested in, but design and brand will finally affect its decision. 

In 2021, luxury handbags and leather goods will need to be even more attractive to Chinese consumers. 68% of Chinese consumers purchase at least a handbag once a season. Even 36% purchase a new bag per season. You definitely need to anticipate the tastes and expectations of Chinese handbag lovers to seduce and engage with them. The overabundant offer on the market turned Chinese shoppers into specialists who can turn a new release into a success or a failure. In 2021, the Chinese will tend to purchase more unisex bags, where the design is matching both women’s and men’s styles. 

“Le Pliage” aka “The Dumpling Bag” – Longchamp website

In the meantime, you definitely need to look after the trend of Chinese nicknames. Especially for bags and cosmetics, the Chinese give nicknames based on pop culture, translation, or overall design to talk about a specific item. The majority of Chinese can encounter difficulties saying an international name. So, they come up with the original nicknames on Weibo or WeChat. For instance, the famous Longchamp bag called “Le Pliage” is named “The Dumpling Bag” in China. Yes, I like traditional Chinese food because the bag has the same aspect. Any luxury brand needs to stay aware of these Chinese cultural habits and could turn this trend into a key marketing strategy.

China’s Jewelry Market

In China, the annual revenue of luxury jewelry should reach almost 7 billion USD in 2021. The annual growth is expected to reach 6% and most revenue will be generated in China for the coming year. Luxury brands are heaving. They want to benefit from this unique growth and get their slice of the cake. Especially in January – February 2021, jewelry sales in China reached a 99% increase from the same period a year ago. The opportunities are tremendous like the local competition. The market is dominated by luxury giants like Cartier, Chanel, Tiffany & Co, Dior, and Bvlgari. Chinese are sensitive to craftsmanship, material, design, and brand when they look for jewelry. In a word, storytelling is everything when you want to build your jewelry brand in China. 

In 2021, the success of gold and diamond among the Chinese is still accurate. In the coming months and years, we should see a soaring success of rose gold over white gold and yellow gold. The new trendsetters are younger consumers and especially post-1980s consumers who contributed to 80% of China’s diamond sales a couple of years ago. Any luxury jewelry brand needs to understand and engage with Generation Z and Millennials. The image of luxury jewelry is evolving in China compared to the West. For instance, diamond is the most appreciated material by the Chinese, which is considered to be a trendy material rather than a symbol of commitment. 

Read: How to Sell Jewelry in China

For the coming year, it is important to stand ahead of trends since the market is evolving fast. Luxury jewelry is moving towards a gender-fluid approach. Chinese are looking for diversification and men often complain about the lack of finesse and sophistication among male jewelry. The available items often include rapper chains, cufflinks, belt buckles, and gothic rings. Luxury brands saw Chinese stars and celebrities wear women’s jewelry and followers appreciate that. Chinese men are now purchasing jewelry items like Cartier’s bracelets, Piaget’s Possession rings, Fred’s Force 10 bracelets, etc. Open your mind and take the lead of diversification among male jewelry in China. 

Luxury Watches in China

In China, the annual revenue for luxury watches should reach 10 billion USD in 2021. The annual growth should almost reach 6% for the coming year. For a couple of years now, China is the el dorado for luxury watches brands. Chinese have a great taste for materials and are always looking for unique designs.  Even the Watch & Wonders Show 2021, which will take place virtually worldwide will benefit from an exhibition place in Shanghai to enable press, retailers, experts, and VIP clients to discover it physically. Today, the top brands with higher brand awareness in China are Rolex, Cartier, Omega, Longines, and Bvlgari. Most Chinese prefer to purchase Swiss luxury watch brands since it is proof of quality for them. Craftmanship, brand, and design are the most important criteria before purchasing a luxury watch. Chinese will always favor a simple everyday watch compared to an overly complicated design with tons of jewels. 

In 2021, the keyword for jewelry watches is timeless. Luxury brands need to embrace Chinese preferences for elegance over time. Indeed, 50% of people wear a watch to bring out their personal taste and image. It is not about convenience, but about social status. In such a case, the branding will be as important as the design since brands will need to prove to their Chinese consumers they discover a timeless piece. But in China, timeless does not mean boring. In the meantime, the Chinese will look for watches that embed Chinese elements in the design or limited edition in partnership with local influencers. The limited-edition L.U.C QF Jubilee proposed by Chopard in April 2021 is only counting 25 models. Such a limited production is key to seduce and engage with Chinese luxury shoppers who could sell it out in only a couple of minutes. 

Again, the Chinese market is vastly different from the West. We often have the image of a man who will purchase his first luxury watch at the age of 40. In China, luxury watches are bought earlier as the main consumer segment is men aged between 25 and 40. Since Millennials work hard, they want to pursue a happy life and a luxury watch is definitely a symbol of personal success. Do not ignore this segment and engage with young watch lovers through short-form video platforms like Douyin or live streaming. Dare to target younger generations if you want to gain market shares and higher sales. 

Fragrances & Cosmetics

In China, luxury cosmetics should reach annual revenue of 4 billion USD in 2021. The expected annual growth of the category is about 8% for the coming year. After the global pandemic, fragrance and cosmetics faced a worldwide crisis. Sales are dropping in Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East. The only growing market with massive sales opportunities is Asia thanks to Korea, Japan, and obviously China. Makeup and skincare are the best-selling categories among cosmetics. Compared to other countries over the globe, China is not the best market to market fragrances. For a brand looking for selling opportunities in China, it is necessary to favor floral and light scents. Today, the top best-known cosmetics brands in China are Chanel, Estée Lauder, Dior, Lancôme, and Shiseido. Chinese consumers give importance to effects and ingredients over any other criteria.  

Read: China Fragrances Market Guide

In 2021, clean beauty is the leading trend of the market in China. Chinese women are more environmentally and health-conscious. They will avoid animal testing cosmetics and dirty components. Again, the market is evolving fast because China has already banned animal testing for cosmetics imported from France and will soon enlarge it to European brands. Today, 90% of Chinese expressed the importance to purchase clean or healthy beauty products. It is driven by Millennials and Gen Z who assess the value of plant-based skincare and are more open-minded to international beauty standards. 

In the meantime, luxury brands need to understand the preferences and expectations of Chinese beauty lovers. The key asset in the coming years will be the male segment. More and more men are taking care of their skin thanks to day creams, serums, eye creams, and spot curers. The same evolution is taking place in the makeup segment since Chinese men are more and more interested in putting some makeup on. The luxury brand Chanel noticed the opportunity and decided to launch the franchise BOY including lotion, cream, eyebrows pencil, mascara, and nail polish. Stay up to date, be bold and dare disruptive campaigns to talk to Chinese consumers. In cosmetics, sustainability and inclusivity are key. 

Wines & Spirits

In China, the spirits market should reach annual revenue of 142 billion USD compared to 24 billion USD for wine in 2021. The annual growth of spirits should be about 4% for spirits and 6% for wine in the coming year. For the Chinese, the main wine and spirits brands are Rémy martin, Moutai, Wuliang Yi, Louis XIII, and Hennessy. The majority of Hong Kong consumers would prefer to purchase premium red wine while Mainland China consumers favor premium whiskey. Chinese will always favor the taste, the brand, and the limited edition before purchasing a wine or spirit bottle. Before purchasing these items, they will look after information and recommendation from friends with similar interests. WeChat private groups are particularly important for Chinese who want to get access to the best imported wines. 

In 2021, the wine and spirits market is competitive. Chinese are more educated about wine-tasting since wine bars or “bar à vins” are opening in Tier Cities 1 and 2. In Hangzhou, you can enter a wine bar to taste different imported wines and participate in special tasting nights. Today, distributors are very tough, and margins are decreasing. The key is to invest in branding and storytelling. More than ever before, luxury brands share the history of their castle, broadcast videos of founders, propose beautiful pictures of vineyards. The competition is tough, and brands are even more innovative. Fancy Cellar launched a video game called “Drink different – Drink Smart” to make wine more appealing and fun while educating Chinese consumers.  

Read: Guide to the Chinese Alcohol Market

Luxury cars & Yacht

In China, luxury is essential to show off. The category of luxury cars and yachts is definitely created to answer this need. Especially in China, having a car is a symbol of social status and personal success. In the West, you demonstrate your success by taking cabs or having a personal driver who has his own car. In China, it is totally different. You are successful if you have the financial capacity to purchase your own car, and especially a luxury car. The wealthiest Chinese will purchase their own luxury car and hire a personal driver. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, luxury vehicles rebounded strongly in China. Local consumers always favor German brands and now turn more and more into luxury electric cars. Work on your branding and create high-quality content to seduce Chinese wealthy men and women. 

For yachts, the super-rich will not purchase a yacht in China. Having such a luxury item is a nightmare for the owner. There are not large marina slips in Mainland China, and a lucky owner of a yacht will need to dock it in Hong Kong, Singapore, or Thailand. The Chinese government restrictions are extremely strict regarding yachts since they created a limitation of 12 people aboard a yacht, including the crew. Basically, the Chinese will face more drawbacks than benefits by acquiring a yacht. Luxury yachts brands who want to target the Chinese should attract them and offer them yachts tours while they travel abroad. 

Luxury Tourism

When Chinese are traveling abroad, they tend to favor luxury hotels and upscale hotels. The majority of Chinese do not have sufficient wealth to afford a journey abroad. Chinese who are encountered overseas are part of the middle class and wealthier portion of the local population. When Chinese luxury lovers travel abroad, they always book their leisure trips through Ctrip, Qunar, or Booking. Luxury brands who want to market their luxury offer from hotels to trips should definitely invest in Trip promotion and advertising. 

Due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, the travel market is dying. The majority of planes were canceled, and the local population was encouraged to stay at home. In the coming months, we will see the impact of the global pandemic on the expectations and preferences of the Chinese. The Asian population suffered from racism in major parts of Europe and the US. These countries now suffer from the “cancel culture” since the Chinese are not expected to travel to these countries where they are not respected. Luxury travel and hotel companies will need to reinvent their campaign and offering to seduce and attract Chinese when the world will reopen. Never take anything for granted. The offer will be huge for Chinese travelers when they will plan their next trip, and they will favor the most audacious, unique, and luxurious experience. 

HOW TO MARKET YOUR LUXURY BRAND IN CHINA

China is evolving fast. You need to stay up-to-date with trends and innovations if you do not want to be left behind. The moment you decide to enter the Chinese market, a dozen of other premium and luxury brands already entered it. In a couple of days, a new competitor can arrive to monopolize the market and gain bigger market shares. Another one could be delisted from e-commerce platforms and lose millions of sales because of “cancel culture” (thankfully, you can get through by avoiding certain topics). Again, nothing is easy in China. 

Digital is Key

China is the most digitalized market in the world with over 850 million people connected to the Internet. They are not only connected but highly engaged in the use of their mobile phone. On average, the Chinese spend 6 hours per day on their phone. They watch the news, interact with their friends, watch short-form videos, engage with live streaming, read blogs and forums, search for products and brands’ information, and purchase online. In a word, they do everything online. Luxury brands must take advantage of the digital world to grow their visibility and reputation in China. There, if you do not go digital you are a zero. 

To Sell Luxury Good in China there is a Need for a Strong Branding

In China when we talk about your “branding” we talk about your brand image. Even if you benefit from small notoriety in your home country or internationally, people in China do not necessarily know who you are. Chinese netizens do not use Google, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. They do not have access to your existing content and advertising campaign. Basically, when you want to enter China, you have to start again… from scratch. 

Pandora active on many Chinese Online Chanel – CNY campaign

To do so, it is essential to have quality content. Chinese are sensitive to premium photography and video. Every day, they get access to tons of high-quality content. Your content definitely needs to be appealing and stands out from the crowd. We often recommend doing some additional shooting to boost your publications on Chinese social media or on your Chinese website. For leading brands, a step further would be to integrate Chinese and Asian models in your photoshoot to enable the Chinese to identify themselves to your brand. 

LOCALIZE YOUR MARKETING CAMPAIGNS FOR THE CHINESE MARKET

The campaign localization is key in China. It is essential to understand the Chinese culture and aesthetics to avoid any “faux pas” or “advertising”. A bad buzz can happen fast in China if you do not play by the rules. It does not mean you have to spread your image out and remove your specificities. It just means you need to know and respect the local values, culture, and expectations. 

The most interesting example this year (2021) is given by Burberry. The luxury brand localized well its campaign by creating clothes for the video game Honor of Kings. In brief, these are the most profitable online games of all time, and virtual clothes contribute in a large part to luxury brands’ sales. This strategy is key if you want to target young and wealthy Chinese through the digital world. Burberry signed a partnership with Tencent to be embodied in Honor of Kings. In the meantime, the brand declared it is no longer using cotton from the Chinese Xinjiang where Uyghurs are, and supports the “Better Cotton Initiative”. Burberry learned at its expense that cultural sensitivity also applies to the virtual world. All the clothes from the brand are removed from the online game and Tencent suspended their partnership. 

The campaign was taking down from the website, but you can still see the video clips and arts on Burberry Red Account

If you know a little about China, you should have noticed that what is happening to Burberry is a double penalty. Why? Because Tencent also owns QQ, WeChat, and Weibo. The leaders of social media and online Q&A in China.

Focus on building a positive eReputation

When we say that your reputation precedes you, it is even more true in China. It is vital to develop your online reputation on forums, blogs, and Q&A sessions to instill trust among your potential customers. They always go on this type of platform to look for testimonials, references, and topics linked to recommendations. The main two threats that your brand should fear are having negative comments or no comments. In China, having no existence is as worst as having a bad reputation. And you need to take care of that. 

Review of Prada by the magazine Fashion Faith – Little Red Book

It is essential to work on your community management by posting regular content about your brand and control the online comments. You need to post massive positive comments and manage any potential negative comments about your product. In China, as we mentioned, you will enter the most competitive market in the world and the competition is fierce. Your local competitors will not hesitate to post negative comments or posts about your products to take back their market share. You should better have a local partner to monitor and control your online reputation on a daily basis. 

Gain Exposure through Chinese Social Media

In China, social media are essential to target, reach, and engage with potential customers. You will have tons of possibilities to create interaction and instill a sense of belonging among Chinese who will discover your brand. The most popular platforms among luxury shoppers are WeChat, Weibo, Little Red Book, and Douyin. They are at the center of luxury brands’ marketing strategy to gain visibility and develop a closer relationship with their local followers. 

WeChat is a Great Communication Channel For Luxury Brand in China

With 1.2 billion users at the beginning of 2021, WeChat is the most used social media platform. Every Chinese has a WeChat account. It is key to be and stay connected with everyone: family, friends, colleagues, clients, suppliers, and brands. For a better understanding, we often compare WeChat as a mix of WhatsApp and Facebook. Basically, the only difference is you can do anything with your WeChat account. You can send messages, have called, pay for products, read news, book train tickets, order a cab, post content, and follow brands. 

Gucci Brand Zone in the Wechat Search Tool

Compared to other social media, WeChat is a very private social media. For luxury brands, it is key to develop great interactions and a deeper sense of belonging. Why? Because brands need to search for your brand to connect with you and see your content. Every follower you gain on WeChat is gold because they made the decision to search for you and engage with you. 

Weibo 

Weibo is the second most used social media in China with 523 monthly active users. Weibo is popular among Chinese Millennials and Gen Z because it is the best place to express themselves. They share their thoughts, pictures, and visions. It is often compared to Facebook and Twitter because people do not fear that much censorship on social media. This platform is essential for luxury brands not only because they will have freedom of publication but because 82% of Weibo users purchase online. In a word, you will maximize your e-commerce stores or online distributors. 

Community Magement – Lancôme – Weibo

We often recommend the opening of a Weibo official account when you open a Tmall flagship store. It is a great drive-to-store strategy to increase your traffic and sales. The main asset of Weibo after the pandemic is the strong development of live streaming sessions. In 2020, Weibo recorded a +50% increase in live streaming sessions on its platform. 

Little Red Book: The Chinese Social Media Luxury Brands Should Not Ignore

Little Red Book is the literal translation of Xiaohongshu. It is considered to be the Chinese Instagram with the regular quality content posted and the influence of key opinion leaders and influencers on the platform. This social media benefits from a lower user base but a better-targeted audience. On average, there are more than 100 million monthly active users. Among them, 50% are from Generation Z. From what we said previously, Gen Z is the leading force of luxury in China and you definitely need to link into RED if you want to target them effectively. 

Gucci on Little Red Book- Shopping note – Gucci RED Store

The other great asset of Little Red Book is the gender users’ base since more than 80% of the users are women. This information is gold for women fashion, cosmetics, and women jewelry brands who want to reach Chinese women. If you want to perform on this social media you need to post quality content, share fans’ posts, engage with KOLs, and open a Little Red Book store. There are tons of results-driven features you need to look into before opening and managing your RED account. 

Douyin

Douyin is the first video platform in China. Basically, if you know TikTok you know Douyin since it is only the Chinese given to the same platform. On average there are 800 million monthly active users and 600 million daily active users. Especially due to the pandemic, short-form video platforms faced immense success among Millennials and Gen Z with even older users in China. The daily active users increased by +200% in only 2 years. This growth is essential to keep in mind when you want to digitally perform in China. 

Chinese people always favor short and insightful content over long-form videos. They watch videos during transportation or while they are waiting in line. Brands decided to take advantage of these habits to target the Chinese with dense short-form videos that will remain in people’s minds. Luxury brands benefit from the double asset of promoting their products easily and make them accessible to their audience. In March 2021, Douyin launched store features to enable brands to open their own stores on social media. More than 220 brands are already registered including the premium cosmetics brand Perfect Diary. 

Luxury Brands Should Collaborate With Chinese Kols

Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) are extremely important in China. They set trends and drive traffic to brands’ stores. Fashion, cosmetics, and jewelry are the two main categories on which KOL will have the highest level of influence. But in any category, you will have your own leading KOL who have the power to increase your conversion rate and double your sales within minutes. For the bags and leather goods, you definitely need to link into Mr. Bags who generated 460K USD in only 6 minutes for the brand Tods. For cosmetics, you need to take a look at Lipstick King who can try 380 lipstick shades during a live streaming session and can decide whether a shade will be sold out or a bad buzz. 

Piaget

By order of importance, Weibo, Little Red Book, Douyin, and WeChat are the key social media platforms for KOL endorsement. 60% of Chinese go on Weibo to obtain recommendations from KOL or bloggers. If you want to reach a wider audience and increase your conversion rate, you definitely need to invest in KOL or KOC. From small influencers to celebrities, you can give a unique aura to your brand in China.

LUXURY & E-COMMERCE ARE TIGHTLY LINK IN CHINA

In China, e-commerce is the quintessence of business. If you have ambition for your brand, you definitely need to open a store on e-commerce platforms like Tmall or Jingdong to generate higher sales. These two platforms only accept high-quality brands with a good image and a positive reputation. In China, the e-commerce decision is not only yours, but platforms will also decide whether they want to sell your products and make you appear on their website. If you want to get ahead, you need to show sales opportunities and the brand’s success. 

TMALL 

Tmall is the first go-to e-commerce platform for luxury brands in China. This is the most performant platform for luxury and premium brands that want to offer a unique consumer experience through digital features. There are 780 million consumers in China who purchase through Tmall, and the number of new overseas brands joining Tmall Global increased by 64%year-on-year in 2020. All the luxury and international brands get to know this e-commerce leader and do not want to miss the opportunity to generate tons of sales, especially for key shopping dates like Chinese New Year or 11.11. 

The CEO of the jewelry brand Fred, Charles Leung, explained it in his own terms:

“Tmall is not only e-shopping but also an information platform, like a digital magazine but with a shopping function. It helps a lot at the stage, where we try to expand and recruit new customers in China”.

Brands have access to Tmall, Tmall Global, and even Tmall Luxury Pavilion. This pavilion is an “app within an app” to enable top selected clients to get access to the most premium and luxury brands with dedicated flagship stores and unique experiences including AI and AR. For instance, Estée Lauder used Augmented Reality (AR) on Tmall and the Chinese spent 70 seconds instead of 30 seconds on their products pages per visit. 

Tmall Luxury Pavilion

Tmall is key for luxury brands who have ambition in the Chinese market. With strong branding and advertising, you can generate millions of sales and level up your brand. 

JD

Jingdong or JD.com is also used by luxury brands since it is the most trustworthy e-commerce platform in China. On average, luxury brands will be available on Tmall only or on Tmall and JD depending on their size and marketing strategy. Compared to Tmall, JD is more pertinent for brands’ in-home appliances and technology devices. The luxury brands like Prada that decided to go along with JD in addition to Tmall are playing an “image strategy” rather than a “sales strategy”. They want to show their striking force on the Chinese market by taking over all the e-commerce platforms of the country. 

If you want to enter JD, you will also have to prove your brand awareness and potential sales in China. You will manage your store and advertise with key drive-to-store strategies. 

China is a complex ecosystem mixing word-of-mouth, reputation, social media, influence, and e-commerce. If you want to enter the first market in the world, you need to be prepared. To do so, you need to build a local team in China to help you through all these operations or select the local agency with the most expertise and results. 

ABOUT US: DIGITAL MARKETING AGENCY FOR LUXURY BRANDS IN CHINA

Who are we?

Finding the right partner before entering China is key. We are a specialist agency with almost 10 years of experience in the development of fashion and luxury brands in China. We worked with a lot of international brands to help them build their brand, develop their audience, and double their sales. At Gentlemen Marketing Agency, we fight for cost-effective strategies to achieve great results. 

How can we help you?

Our focus is to promote your brand with your target and objectives closely in mind. We will hold several meetings with you to understand your history and potential for the Chinese market. Then, we will manage the campaign and assure its optimization and success. In a word, you have found your local partner to achieve your growth in China. 

An International Team

We are a team of +75 experts passionate about digital and China. Each member of the team is specialized in a field (design, web development, business analyst, etc.) with a long experience and proven efficiency. We benefit from a multicultural background with French and Chinese experts. This is our key success factor: we understand the Chinese culture and consumers while we respect your international brand DNA.  

An ROI focused Agency

The commitment to success and results is essential. We are a results-oriented agency, which means we thrive for success. We are committed to the results we will achieve for you in the most competitive, dynamic, and challenging market in the world. The solution is to seduce, attract, and re-target the most qualified audience for your brand to increase your conversion rate. 

Professionals of Branding & eCommerce in China

We are professionals in branding and e-commerce. We guide you through your journey in China by taking care of all your operations: website, social media, community management, KOL, PR, undercover marketing, e-commerce setup, customer service, etc. In a word, you are not our client but our partner. We always build long-term relationships to achieve success.

Bonus…

We are a friendly team, we offer coffee if you book a meeting with our consultants to discuss your project in China. We have already worked on fashion, jewelry, watch, wine, and tons of luxury projects. If you’re interested in being part of the Chinese market and want to reach your Chinese target, you need to adopt the most intelligent strategy. 

Our luxury division is directed by an LVMH former talent. She worked for the two luxury Houses of Givenchy and Guerlain and will provide you with the best insights on luxury strategy and operations to implement. Our dedicated team can offer a China digital strategy adapted to your brand universe, products, and target. Don’t hesitate to reach out for more information. 

HERE ARE SOME OF OUR LUXURY CASE STUDIES IN CHINA

With almost 10 years of experience in the Chinese market, we helped brands from different luxury categories to enter or better perform on the market. What challenges did they face? How did we help them to overcome them? Discover below some of the unique stories we lived with our clients. If you want to know more about our realizations, you can ask for our case studies. 

FASHION CASE STUDY – Smiley

Smiley is the award-winning brand shaping and sharing happiness all around the world. For the past 45 years, the brand is dedicated to shaping the way its clients share happiness online and offline. In China, Smiley needed to pursue its happiness revolution with a strong strategy. The happy revolution needed an impactful social media strategy to take off. Our team of experts created and managed the Weibo and WeChat accounts of the brand. Thanks to a personalized social media campaign and several Chinese KOLs endorsements, Smiley’s brand awareness increased drastically. 

Bershka – Smiley collab – Wechat

What are the results we achieved for Smiley?

  • 1.5+ million views on Weibo
  • 40K+ followers on Weibo
  • 20K+ followers on WeChat

JEWELRY CASE STUDY – Jaubalet 

Jaubalet is a French jewelry designer located on the iconic Place Vendome, in Paris. The team of artisan jewelers provides custom-designed and customized unique pieces of jewelry using traditional techniques with a modern touch. In China, the luxury brand needed to acquire visibility and build its differentiation from other Vendome jewelers. They contacted us to have a better understanding of the Chinese consumers, especially wealthy Chinese traveling abroad. After running a website audit and optimization, we drastically increase the organic ranking and traffic of the brand to reach wealthy Chinese clients. 

Jaublet – Baidu & Website

What are the results we achieved for Jaubalet?

  • Top ranking position on Baidu
  • +500% organic online traffic
  • +250% offline traffic

WATCHES CASE STUDY – Jean Rousseau 

Jean Rousseau is distinguished by the “Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant“ label. The Maison communicates a story: its history of love and passion for beautiful materials and objects, luxurious treasures that will be with you for a lifetime. Over the decades, Jean Rousseau has established itself as an authentic luxury leather goods brand whose independence, creativity, and excellence make it a highly respected and desired brand today. The brand contacted us to have a better understanding of the key success factors to target and reach Chinese watch lovers. We developed a full online strategy, from social media management to media coverage. 

The campaign is currently running showing first great results. Stay tuned! 

LEATHER GOODS CASE STUDY – D’Auchel 

D’Auchel is the epitome of true luxury: a Maison and Atelier located in the heart of Central that brings centuries-old French craftsmanship to Hong Kong with exquisite leather goods. Created by authentic French artisans with traditional know-how and made with the finest imported European leathers, each handbag is meticulously hand-stitched, flawlessly detailed, and a masterpiece of art. The brand contacted us to receive insights on the luxury market in China. The main objective of the collaboration was to launch a new product line in Mainland China through a live streaming session during an offline event. 

Results are kept confidential

COSMETICS CASE STUDY – Lancôme 

Lancôme is a French luxury perfumes and cosmetics house that distributes products internationally. Part of L’Oréal Luxury Products division, the luxury brand is heading towards China for fifteen or so years. Since the brand is already existing in China, our work was to clarify the work that has already been done and find out the main objective for the future development and growth of the brand. Lancôme requested our help to create the right strategy in China, including social media tactics. 

Lancôme O2O strategy

Results are kept confidential

WINE CASE STUDY – Château Palmer

Château Palmer is all about finesse and elegance. In 1814, Charles Palmer is not only a name but a legend when he acquires the Gascq domain in Bordeaux. The complexity of the terroir is expressed in Château Palmer wines. The daily know-how of the Château protects and enriches a plural nature by developing notes of fruits, flowers, and spices: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. Such a terroir, heritage, and passion needed to be shared in China in the most delicate manner. We worked on the branding and e-reputation of Château Palmer in China. Through social media campaigns and premium content creation, we increased the visibility and desirability of this ancestral Château in China.

Château Palmer – Wechat Search Results

Results are kept confidential

SPIRIT CASE STUDY – Kuheiji Sake

Kuheiji is a spirits brand specialized in sake. Each year, the brand pays attention to the Earth stories and movements in the lands of Hyogo and Okayama, where the rice is cultivated for their sake. Through articles on Sakagura and sake in general, the brand offers an intimate approach to this exciting world. This passionate universe is all about craftsmanship, rice, essential components, know-how preservation, and heritage over years. In a word, Kuheiji creates terroir vintages that express all the dramaturgy of fields and rice paddies. We provided high-end campaigns via WeChat and Weibo to and we implemented an impactful social media campaign with several KOLs endorsements to increase its e-reputation in China. 

What are the results we achieved for Kuheiji?

  • 9K+ exposure on WeChat
  • 1 million exposure on Weibo
  • Baidu top position with increased traffic and visibility

YACHTS CASE STUDY – Dream Yacht Charter

Dream Yacht Charter is a luxury tourism company providing yacht tours in different destinations around the world. Regarding the increasing number of Chinese rich men, they desired to reach and attract more and more Chinese customers. They contacted us to be their local marketing team to promote their services. After the analysis of potential customers and the market, we suggested they could be engaged in SEO on Baidu as the first step with the Chinese website.

Baidu Search Results

What are the results we achieved for Dream Yacht Charter?

  • Top ranking position on Baidu
  • +150% traffic on their official website 

TRAVEL CASE STUDY – Royal Mansour Marrakech


Royal Mansour is located in Marrakech, Morocco. This 5-star luxury hotel and spa is defining its services with private riads and fine dining. The hotel wants to create something special for Chinese guests, to make their visit more thrilling, magical, and full of discovery. Royal Mansour contacted us for helping them to build a strong marketing strategy to reach Chinese tourists.

What are the results we achieved for Royal Mansour Marrakech?

  • First page position on Baidu
  • +80% traffic on their official website 

You could be next to share your story and results… 

Are you ambitious enough to enter the first market in the world for luxury? 

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6 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this very informative report about the China market. This is important to understand the global luxury market trends.
    B.R.M Chronographs is an independent SME French luxury watch brand that started with my passion for karting and mechanical precision. I am looking for a trusted somebody who is serious and open to understanding my Brand’s vision and DNA but it is not easy to find someone who bilingual in Chinese/French and really knows the China LUXURY market specially bespoke timepieces like my brand. All our products are handcrafted in our workshop located in the suburbs of Paris, France. B.R.M is the only watch manufacture in the Regional Nature Park of French Vexin. I am open to any propositions of collaboration or partnership.
    Bernard

  2. What is possibly the biggest reason for brands to be cautious about seeking a one-on-one partnership with a Chinese fashion blogger is the unclear relationship between sales and influencer marketing. After Gogoboi s November Fendi campaign, the brand’s parent company LVMH reported in its 2016 annual report that Fendi saw sales growth in China’s market. The two events may be correlated, but such correlation does not imply causation.

  3. I have not checked in here for some time because I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are great quality so I guess I will add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

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