China’s luxury market remains the second largest in the world and it has been growing rapidly. Its rising middle class, especially those in lower-tier cities, have substantial purchasing power and strong appetite for high-end products. In 2022, the country was estimated to account for about 17 percent of the global luxury market and was expected to contribute nearly half of the luxury spending growth over the next five years. Various luxury brands understand craftmanship and long-running legacy are not enough to conquer the Chinese market. They need smart marketing strategies to create meaningful interactions with the affluent shoppers in China.
The new generation reshaping China’s luxury market
As of September 2022, the base of Chinese luxury spenders was made of millennials and Generation Z, those born between the 1980s and early 2000s. Their average age was 28 years old – ten years younger than that in most other markets worldwide. They were more inclined to save less and spend more on leisure than their parents.
This younger generation tended to be flexible with brand preferences and thus, less loyal to a particular label. Services were more important than pricing in their eyes, and Gen-Z buyers highly appreciated trendy concepts of personalized shopping experience. Furthermore, the nationalistic fashion trend “Guochao”, meaning “national trend” in Chinese, has been driving the passion for homegrown high-end names. To win young Chinese consumers, western heritage labels needed to be flexible and innovative in brand storytelling.
Luxury marketing breaking new ground
A 2023 survey revealed that content focusing on the brand's aesthetics elements worked the best in adverting luxury items in China. In addition, at least 54 percent of Chinese respondents valued creativity in luxury content and event promotion. Among all global fashion houses, Dior has been the most forward-thinking marketer and ahead in the localization game. It was not only the first luxury retailer to promote its offerings on WeChat in 2015, but also the first to open its account on Douyin (Chinese TikTok) in 2018. Its recent innovative initiatives were its first-ever metaverse exhibition on Fall 2022 menswear collection, “On the Road”, and combine high-end hospitality with luxury by adding restaurants and hotels to its stores.
When it comes to digital marketing innovation, Louis Vuitton led the race in the Chinese luxury market for three consecutive years. The French luxury maker actively invested in live streaming and was the first among its rivals to livestream on the Chinese Instagram-like Xiaohongshu in 2020. It also teamed up with the popular virtual influencer Ayayi.
As of the time of writing, other trending luxury marketing campaigns in China in 2023 included Fendi's teaming up with local beverage brand Heytea to promote its exhibition, Louis Vuitton's new pop-up coffee bookstores to sell its printed collections, and Givenchy’s collaboration with Chinese fashion influencer Mr. Bags to launch a special edition of the Voyou bag.
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