Let’s dive into the wonderful opportunities that represent the Chinese jewelry market to foreign luxury brands and find out what are the best practices to succeed in the middle kingdom. According to figures from the China Industry development and Research website, the precious metal accessory market swelled from RMB567 billion in 2014 to RMB737 billion in 2019. As of 2021, China is the biggest market for Jewelry ahead of the United States and India. A market dominated by Luxury giants but full of potential for smaller brands. The market growth is not slowing down as it can be shown by January – February 2021 data, recording a 99% years-on years sales increase.

Jewelry in China: A Promising Market

In recent years, following the economic development of China, the Chinese market has grown exponentially becoming a leader in the jewelry industry with more than 40% of the worldwide market share, which attracts everyday companies from the four corners of the world, from international brands to smaller startups.

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China: A market full of opportunities

According to the Jewelry Industry Report published by GlobeNewswire, the global jewelry market edged down in 2019, decreasing from 1.4% compared to 2018. Its revenues amounted to US$257,889m worldwide in 2021. However, even after the Covid-19 pandemic that had disastrous consequences for the jewelry industry, the Chinese jewelry market is still worth more than US$64,665m. As a matter of fact, China ranks first in the jewelry industry, followed by the United States.

In 2018, the jewelry market in China amounted to 697 billion yuan and is expected to reach 874 billion yuan by 2022. We can also note a rise in demand after the lockdown, as consumers were ready to buy products again. While most of us might think that Chinese consumers only want to buy luxury jewelry, it is indeed estimated that by 2021, 64% of sales in the jewelry industry will come from non-luxury goods. So, even if you don’t sell luxury jewelry, you will be able to do business in China, targeting the Chinese middle class that is having a greater purchasing power.

In terms of selling channel, brick & mortar are still the to go place with more than 90% of jewelry sales being done in a physical store in 2019. However, we should note the rise of online chanel, registering a 26% growth in 2019 & totalling RMB54.18 billion or 7.2% of the total revenue made from jewelry sale in China. The Chinese online sale of jewelry is almost 20% point higer than the wordwide average and is forecast to keep growing.

The Jewelry Industry: A Very Competitive Market

With the huge success and demand for jewelry in China, many brands have decided to open brick-and-mortar stores across China, especially in the first-tier cities. You will be able to find international brands with specific luxury jewelry, and retailers selling all kinds of jewelry.

The market is still dominated by locals brands as well as internationnal luxury brand. For instance in 2019, Jewelry brand leader in China, Chow Tai Fook and and Lao Feng Xiang respectivelt held 8.1% & 6.6% of the market shares.

What are the trends in China in terms of jewelry?

According to a survey about Chinese online shoppers, more than 56% of Chinese consumers have a preference for accessories or jewelry with concise design and approximately 38% of them said that they like to buy accessories with a hollowed-out design.

Your main target when selling jewelry will be the upper and middle-class of Chinese society. However, as they are more and more inclined to travel, they will have higher expectations when it comes to the quality of your products. Chinese consumers are looking for creative and unique jewelry and they can afford to spend thousands of dollars if they are interested. They approximately spend 40% of their budget on accessories like jewelry and watches.

Note: Chinese Gen Z (27% of china’s population) spends more and more of their disposable income to purchase luxury goods, great read here

Therefore, a successful marketing strategy requires an in-depth understanding of the traditional Chinese culture. In order to do so, you will have to take advantage of various opportunities and occasions. For instance, apart from the wedding market, many jewelry companies are targeting the gift market for families and friends, especially for newborn babies or for birthday presents. 

The different categories of jewelry in China

If you want to export your products to China, it’s important for you to know what kind of jewelry Chinese consumers are ready to buy. In fact, there are different categories that are especially popular in China:

  • Metal jewelry: it includes jewelry that is made of precious metals such as gold, platinum, and silver, but also non-precious metals like copper and aluminum. Still is the most preferred type of jewelry, for instance, in 2018, gold jewelry represented 47% of the market sales, diamond, and K-gold 20% and jade 19%.
  • Precious stones: a segment that is growing in 1st tiers cities. It includes precious stones such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires, crystal, jade, pearls, amber, and topaz. If China as a whole prefers gold, the country is still second when it comes to buying Diamonds. The interesting things with diamonds sell in China, is bridal jewelry is not driving sales. Indeed, with a drop in the marriage rate, jewelry brands in China have launched versatile series that can be worn at any time and bought for any occasion.
  • Then you have other jewelry such as ivory, leather, clay, wood, and string.

What type of Jewelry do Chinese consumers love?

When it comes to jewelry, Chinese consumers have a clear preference for gold as seen above; Gold is symbolic in Chin, it represents financial and spiritual protection (and being part of the upper class, although this tends not to be true with younger generations). The gold jewelry market is dominated by locals players but non-Chinese brands are still highly appreciated. However, the younger generation and especially the Gen-Z is not that focused on gold anymore, but more on the meaning each jewelry has.

The accumulated retail trade revenue of gold, silver, and jewelry in China skyrocketed to nearly 55 billion yuan between January and February 2021. It represents a 100% growth in revenues compared to the same period of time in 2020.

Jewelry for women

Chinese actress and singer Li Bing Bing (李冰冰) for Gucci

Foreign jewelry brands have always been popular among Chinese consumers, especially ladies. Sales have accelerated even more as their income has increased and as they are willing to spend more when it comes to fashion and jewelry. So, it is important to focus on jewelry for women, by creating unique and elegant jewelry for every occasion.

Jewelry for men

Chinese singer and actor Jackson Yee for Tiffany & Co

The industry of jewelry for men grew significantly in China these past few years, thanks to consumers who are enthusiastic and engaged about men’s fashion. China’s young male consumers are thus increasingly interested in sophisticated, diverse jewelry offerings. They are indeed more comfortable than before wearing jewelry and cosmetics. The jewelry industry for men is an interesting market to conquer and the opportunity of development in China is quite important for creating new brands entering the Chinese market. For example, a growing number of Chinese men are posting pictures of them wearing jewelry with the hashtag #MenJewelry (男士珠宝) on social media platforms such as Xiaohongshu (小红书). On top of that, more and more KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) are giving tips and advice to their followers on how to choose jewelry.

This segment represent a real opportunty as most brands in China are very slowly starting to pay attention to it. In short, there is a demand for more designs and products types that has not been met yet.

How to sell and promote your jewelry in China?

To attract people, shops tend to reduce their margins and offer a discount which allows them to sell goods at a lower price than they would have in the United States or Europe for example. It is indeed quite easy to enter the Chinese market in terms of regulations and freedom, and not as restrictive as western countries. However, you will have to deal with your competitors, and be creative in terms of design, trends, variety, and materials. Moreover, in order to succeed, you will have to provide interesting content and a unique and memorable experience. Furthermore, with the evolving mores of Chinese society, marriage tends to be less important for the younger generation, so you don’t have to focus only on wedding’s jewelry. We observe growth in the sale of custom-made products, as well as online purchases. Brands should also focus on festivals & Holidays where many peoples buy jewelry as a gift.

If most sale are still happening in physical store, the O2O (online to offline or offline to online) model has shown promising results for brands. With an ultra connected population, it would be almost foolish to ignore online channels to promote your jewelry brand in creative ways. There are so many tools for online marketing that any companies no matters its size will find something that matches its needs and budget.

To Sell Jewelry in China get a Website in Mandarin

The first thing you will need is a website in Chinese. It will enable Baidu SEO and most importantly show that you are a real brand. We strongly suggest that you develop a version of your website optimized for the Chinese internet (you don’t want a slow website because you are using google plugins).

Louis Vuitton’s Chinese Website

In the same vein, your website should follow UX norms chinese netizens are used to. For instance, a live chat or easy to find QR code to send visitors to your social media.

E-commerce

You are now probably wondering which channels you can use to sell your products. In fact, you can sell jewelry in malls, store-chain, supermarkets, and jewelry shops. For a long time, Chinese consumers were not reassured enough to buy jewelry online as they wanted to be able to try and touch the products. However, as Chinese society is in constant evolution in terms of digitalization, the fastest and best way to sell your jewelry at a lower cost nowadays is by using e-commerce websites. E-commerce websites and apps are booming in China, and jewelers are carving a lucrative niche in the online marketplace.

  • Tmall (天猫)

As one of the most popular e-commerce retail platforms, Tmall is a must-have if you want to sell your jewelry in China. However, you will have to provide a lot of documents in order to have a verified account. TMall is an opportunity for you to open an online shop and directly sell your products to Chinese consumers without being physically present in China.

Most of the time, the best way for foreign brands to sell jewelry is to use the Tmall e-commerce platform because they need verification in order to do so, which gives more confidence to Chinese buyers.

  • Taobao (淘宝网)

Unlike Tmall where sellers are certified, Taobao is a completely free C2C e-commerce platform where most of the resellers are not certified, which leads to many counterfeit products. However, with more than 800 million monthly active users, Taobao is one of the most visited e-commerce websites in China.

Note that both Tmall and Taobao belongs to Alibaba.

  • Mogujie (蘑菇街)

Founded in 2011 in Hangzhou, Mogujie is a social media and e-commerce platform specialized in fashion products and services. The company’s mission is to “Make fashion accessible to everyone” with prices ranging from a few dozen to thousands of yuans. 

(Mogujie’s Website)

It can be very interesting for you to sell your jewelry on this website if you can not afford to sell them on Tmall or Alibaba for example. It is also important to know that this platform features live broadcasts, short videos, photos, reviews, and articles generated by users, professional fashion influencers, and Mogu’s in-house editorial team.

The importance of Baidu

Considered as the “Chinese Google”, Baidu is the most popular Chinese Search Engine and stands as the 5th most consulted website in the world. As of 2021, it represents 71.9% of the Chinese market share. In comparison, only 4% of internet researches is done with Google in China. So, to put it simply, Baidu is a step you can’t skip in China if you want to promote your jewelry.

Cartier – Baidu Brand Zone

Advertising on social media

With the rising use of social media in China, it is undeniable that you will have to use these platforms if you want to boost your reputation and be able to display and show your jewelry. Using social media is also a good way to enhance your product exposure and gain consumer’s trust. Jewelry transactions online are poised to grow in 2021, thanks to social media platforms, new business models, and the popularity of KOLs and live to stream. However, if you’re not familiar with these apps, you can contact us for more information and tips. 

  • Xiaohongshu

With more than 85 million monthly active users, the app Xiaohongshu allows users and influencers to post and share product reviews, travel blogs and lifestyle stories via short videos and photos. Xiaohongshu also operates RED Mall, which sells international products to Chinese users. Using Xiaohongshu can be an effective way to increase your brand’s reputation and visibility.

Swarovski – RED
  • Weibo

Launched by Sina Corporation in August 2009, Weibo is one of the biggest social media platforms in China. This platform has been a huge financial success, with surging stocks, lucrative advertising sales and high revenue and total earnings per quarter.

De Beers on Weibo

Boasting over 600 million users with 224 million daily users, it would be considered as offensive to merely label Weibo as the ‘Twitter of China’ (although the name literally means Micro Blog). In fact, this innovative platform is tailoring itself to E-Commerce marketing options more effective than the bulk of its competitors. Using Weibo, you will be able to advertise your company and give information to your consumers.

  • Douyin
Chow Tai Seng – Douyin

As one of the most popular short-video apps in China, Douyin is expected to reach 555 million daily active users in 2023. Both Douyin and TikTok are owned by Bytedance, a Chinese tech company. Douyin literally means “vibrant music” and we can say that its name perfectly matches the short-form videos (less than the 60s) allowing users to combine it with dynamic background music and creative filters. This short-video content format immediately distinguishes Douyin from traditional Chinese social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo, in which the content still focuses on text, images, and longer videos. Douyin can be a strong advertising channel, especially if you hire a KOL (Key Opinion Leader) to do the promotion of your products.

  • Wechat

According to the Financial Times, Wechat is the “most important platform for luxury brands”. As the first social Media in China, Wechat allows you to open an official account and publish news, send newsletters and create e-brochures. As experts in this field, we can help you to create an official Wechat account and explain how to manage it.

Cartier – Wechat Moment Ads

In order to do business in China and promote your brand, you will need to have an official account. After that, the best way for you to promote your brand is to create a WeChat H5 brochure that you will be able to share on Wechat groups, Wechat moments, and any other social media.

If you want more information about WeChat H5 brochures, you can read this article:

The best tools on Wechat

  • You will be able to create a brochure presenting your company
  • Spread marketing content
  • Send vouchers / discounts to your followers
  • Work on your Community Management
  • Use Wechat mini-programs

Collaborate with KOLs to promote your Jewerly

Some Chinese KOLs from Douyin (© 搜狐)

Another way to engage your community and attract new customers is to hire KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). This means that even if you have a small budget, you can still hire an influencer. You can even hire multiple KOLs in order to reach different kinds of consumers. Your micro-influencer will spend more time interacting with their community and answering any questions they may have about your brand. The interaction is important in order to build a relationship of “proximity” and trust with your audience.

The importance of E-reputation in China

Jaubalet – Luxury Jewelry

Following some controversy in the Chinese market a few years ago, China is a very digitalized society where people are always connected and accustomed to doing their research online before going to a brick-and-mortar store. So, it is important and essential for you to develop your O2O strategy to remain competitive in this market and pay attention to your online reputation and feedback from your consumers.

We Help you brand & sell you Jewelry in China

Jean Rousseau

Gentlemen Marketing Agency is a digital marketing agency specializing in the Chinese market. Over the years, we have built a strong reputation in the digital fields, collaborating with international companies and leading various successful marketing campaigns. We have experts who help you and give advice if you want to sell jewelry in China.

Luxury Watches – Christophe Claret – by GMA

Do not hesitate to leave a comment below or to directly contact us for more information.

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7 Comments

  1. Hello
    We are a fashion distributor in China, and we are thinking of resell foreign jewerly brands in China.
    contact us for more information

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