China has great potential for the fashion industry, especially due to its large population and economic growth. The country is now one of the world’s largest luxury and fashion markets and on the way to reach the first rank. There is therefore great growth potential for foreign brands which plan to conquer China’s fashion market.
What influences Chinese when they want to buy clothes?
Here are 5 things that determine their purchase decision in fashion and clothing.
1 – New trends
New trends are one of the most important things Chinese people will pay attention to when they want to buy clothes.The population of “fashion addicts”exhibits particularly strong growth in China. These “fashion addicts” are mostly female, middle-income professionals in the biggest cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. They inform themselves about new trends on the Internet or in fashion magazines. Thus, they are well informed and try to stand out from the crowd.
2 – Brands
The brands we can find on China’s fashion market can be divided into two main categories: high-end and luxury clothing brands, which target high income customers, and popular brands which produce clothes for the mass market, fashion but not expensive, such as H&M, Zara and Uniqlo, especially targeting young people.
We can find both local and foreign brands on China’s fashion market. However, Chinese brands keep their leading position. Nevertheless, the high-end market is almost entirely occupied by foreign brands, especially brands from France, Italy, the U.S.A, Germany and Japan, and the presence and influence of foreign brands is more and more important in China’s biggest cities.
3 – Social networks
As you probably know, social media are used very extensively by Chinese, especially young people, and social networks are more and more influential in Chinese people’s consumption. Taking advantage of the social media boom in China’s Internet world, a large number of brands has thrived thanks to an effective marketing and communication strategy on Chinese social networks and especially SinaWeibo, the Chinese micro-blogging platform which is one of the most used social media in China. Many fashion brands are now present on China’s social media. One of the first international brands to conquer the social media craze in China was Louis Vuitton.
It opened its official advertisement platform in China on Weibo in 2010. The luxury French company even imagined its Chinese name, LuyiWeideng. In 2012, Louis Vuitton joined Wechat, gained more than 200 million followers, with a huge increase in the number of mobile customers. To take the example of a Chinese brand,Li Chen, the founder of the fashion brand NPC, mainly promotes his products and stores on SinaWeibo by using his notoriety and support from his relationships (mostly stars with many followers). Therefore, his Weibo page has become an effective tool of communication. Thanks to this strategy, the brand is now very popular, especially among young Chinese people.
4 – IWOM : Internet Word of Mouth
With the largest Internet population,IWOM (Internet Word of Mouth) is becoming increasingly influential in China. Indeed, most Chinese consumers will go to the Internet to take web users’ comments and opinion into account before buying a product. It is also the case for fashion and clothing products. Therefore, it is important for foreign brands to have a positive reputation on the Chinese web.
In China, forums and social networks play an important role in IWOM. Among the websites specialized in fashion and clothing, Meilishuo (whose name means “Beauty Talk/Conversation about Beauty”), which is a sort of shopping guide, is very influential for Chinese women. It was founded in 2009 and aims at helping Chinese women to find the ideal clothes, cosmetics products, bags, shoes and accessories. Web users can share their opinion and recommend brands and products. This website is the best example of the importance of IWOM on the fashion market in China.
5 – Advice from friends and influential people
Chinese people also tend to trust and follow advice from their circle of friends, relationships and influential people. This kind of people will be much more influential on a consumer’s purchase decision than the brands’ own speech and advertising campaign.
Among influential people, KOL (Key Opinion Leaders) and stars play an important role, especially on the web. Many fashion and clothing brands use them for their online strategies and ask them to be their ambassador. It is often the case as far as brands for young people are concerned, and it works: it is easier to keep the brand in mind when the ambassador is someone famous in the fashion industry.
For example, Metersbonwe, a Chinese clothing brand, invited Jay Chou, a pop star who benefits from millions of fans in China. Thanks to Jay Chou, Metersbonwe registered a 30% growth.