The dig­i­tal gold mine in China Key opin­ion lead­ers and de­sign­ers are play­ing a more im­por­tant role

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By YU RAN in Shang­hai

yu­ran@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s eco­nomic slow­down and stock mar­ket slump have not de­terred Chi­nese con­sumers from go­ing on lux­ury shop­ping sprees, es­pe­cially via emerg­ing dig­i­tal plat­forms, ac­cord­ing to find­ings re­leased at a lux­ury fo­rum which took place on Dec 8 in Shang­hai.

Held as a part of Lux­ury So­ci­ety’s Dig­i­tal Key­note se­ries, the event also touched on top­ics in­clud­ing dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion and op­por­tu­ni­ties for lux­ury brands re­lated to re­tail, mo­bile, video, so­cial, ad­ver­tis­ing, branded con­tent and big data.

The fo­rum re­vealed that e-commerce trans­ac­tions in China re­cently hit $2 tril­lion, more than 10 per­cent of to­tal re­tail rev­enues, while 55 per­cent of Chi­nese In­ter­net users make their pay­ments us­ing their mo­bile de­vices. Fash­ion brands in China know this all too well, see­ing how more than 60 per­cent of their trans­ac­tions are made us­ing the Tmall mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to au­dit, tax and ad­vi­sory firm KPMG, up to 50 per­cent of China’s do­mes­tic lux­ury consumption will be via on­line sources from early as 2020, while Chi­nese con­sumers will ac­count for as much as 35 per­cent of global lux­ury sales dur­ing that time.

Pablo Mauron, gen­eral man­ager of the Dig­i­tal Lux­ury Group’s China of­fice, said that an in­creas­ing num­ber of lux­ury brands have been look­ing to es­tab­lish a pres­ence on third party e-commerce sites, see­ing how con­sumers here pre­dom­i­nantly use such plat­forms. He added that brands have cre­ated spe­cific mar­ket­ing strate­gies in China that em­pha­size a lot more on con­tent cre­ation and sto­ry­telling, say­ing that Chi­nese con­sumers tend to be more con­cerned about such in­for­ma­tion on so­cial me­dia plat­forms such as the mes­sag­ing app WeChat.

“WeChat em­pow­ers the user like no other so­cial net­work. Ev­ery com­pany, with­out ques­tion, is try­ing to use WeChat to do busi­ness in China’s grow­ing re­tail land­scape,” said Mauron. “How­ever, it is a dif­fi­cult path to take. It’s very hard to pay for the ex­po­sure, and it’s dif­fi­cult for users to en­gage with brand pro­mot­ers.”

To learn more about lux­ury trends, Chi­nese ne­ti­zens, es­pe­cially WeChat users, tend to rely more on in­for­ma­tion dis­sem­i­nated by key opin­ion lead­ers such as fash­ion blog­gers and de­sign­ers. Ac­cord­ing to the pre­view of China Lux­ury Trends 2015, which was jointly is­sued by the Dig­i­tal Lux­ury Group and Baidu Inc, such per­son­al­i­ties are grow­ing in in­flu­ence as they now ac­count for about 500,000 monthly web searches among Chi­nese ne­ti­zens.

“Con­sumers are be­com­ing more so­phis­ti­cated and it’s not as easy as be­fore. I think they are much more skep­ti­cal of pro­mo­tional mes­sages, and are more in­clined to be­lieve shared per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences and sug­ges­tions by pro­fes­sion­als,” said Michelle Ye, a blog­ger and stylist.

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