“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”


China’s appetite for luxury brands

Once upon a time, we talked about oligarchs and patricians.

Go to a Burberry store in South Kensington and ask ‘where do most of your customers come from?’ Most of the staff would say China. If you go to Bicester Village, things are more obvious.

Are the Chinese becoming the oligarchs who want to possess everything?

The golden opportunities for accessible luxury brands.

It has been quite easy for high-end brands to sell in China. They have been a part of bragging and gift-giving culture for Chinese.

But those days are coming to an end, says Forbes. The anti-corruption campaign and slowing economy are easing their burning desire and changing their attitudes to luxury.

While it has brought difficult times to classic luxury brands like Dior or Channel, the spotlight is shifting towards accessible luxury brands like Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs.

But when Chinese are still obsessed with ‘Made in Italy’ or other European heritages, how can these brands sell their stories?

How can accessible luxury brands woo new China?

The biggest competitive advantage for accessible luxury brands is their ability to digitally engage with consumers.

Coach have already launched an eCommerce site in Mandarin with free shipping and free returns (L2ThinkTank), showcasing 62 years of leather handwork and craftsmanship. 

Coach’s eCommerce site in China

The brand has progressively encouraged customer reviews and ratings on the website, which is a relatively rare thing to for ‘classic’ luxury brands. While most luxury fashion brands focus on china’s Weibo or Weixin, Coach’s social presence spans across seven different platforms.

Coach’s New York Style campaign on Weibo

Coach’s “New York style” campaign on Weibo brought the feel of New York to the fans. Six fashion bloggers were featured in a video showing distinctive street fashion styles associated with six iconic districts. Also fans were asked to vote for their favourite styles with a chance to win ‘Coach merchandise’. It even pushed for a photo-sharing app with new York-themed filters.

The campaign not only promoted New York as an alternative shopping holiday destination, but was also “a perfect example of smart cross-platform digital marketing used to strengthen a key element of the brand image.” says Lab Brand.

It’s not about the price. But the luxurious feel still counts.  

So heritage and craftsmanship are important elements for mid-range luxury brands too. On top of that, they must offer the experience.

Shopping in a luxury store can be a bizarre experience in China. The shop assistants often lack in knowledge of the brand. Besides they can be following you closely throughout the store. Privacy? No such thing (even UNIQLO can do better).

Another reason why many Chinese shopping tourists still choose to go abroad is the luxurious experience and better service in store – besides authenticity and price discrepancy.

So here are the key points for Accessible luxury brands:

  • Heritage and craftsmanship still sell
  • Capitalise on social media engagement
  • Embed the luxury feel on both digital and bricks-and-mortar stores
  • Last but not least, a better understanding of Chinese customers.

What do you think?

Appnova is a digital agency specializing in web design, UX, e-commerce, branding, digital marketing and social media.

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