WeChat overshadows Chinese retail market with its 850m monthly users. According to business intelligence company, L2 WeChat is an optimal platform for luxury brand to access the Chinese market due to its one to one connectivity feature. Local jewelry brands already hold a market share of $103bn by using WeChat as a platform to reach its customers. Now some western jewelry brands are swaying in, to reveal this rewarding market.
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Which luxury jewellery brands have entered Chinese market with WeChat?
Up till now only a handful of western jewelry brands have accessed Chinese market using WeChat platform. Recently Bulgari offered their limited-edition of pink gold, Divas’s Dream as flash sales, during Qixi festival also known as Valentine’s Day of China. Tiffany deployed it’s marketing and customer service activities on WeChat.
It is believed that, WeChat indeed offers exposure to huge market but gaining effective entry is dependent on having sound understanding of local market, which can be achieved by corresponding with local Digital Marketing agencies that caters foreign brands. Antoine Pin, the managing director of Bulgari in greater China, declared sold out of their product range within a month and prompted store sales of the same collection but online sales in China were limited since the physical touch point seemed important for Bulgari product category, he says. Although this is not true for local luxury jewellery brands where most of the products are sold online. This statement calls for more marketing research efforts on Chinese netizens front with respect to luxury jewellery brands. Chinese market is indeed a closed one but calling it a hidden gem won’t be wrong.
Last year Cartier sold around 60 products via WeChat platform, consisting of its Clou collection. The pinkish gold and diamond ring was on sale for RMB 27,600 ($3,550). Cartier is now planning to increase its product range on WeChat and monitoring prospects for selling its products on other Chinese shopping websites.
Chinese market awaits European luxury jewellery brands
Liz Flora, editor of Asia-Pacific research on L2 mentioned that Chinese consumers are extremely digitally native and mobile therefore, it’s crucial now for brands to have a Digital Marketing strategy to reach audience. She also, stated that many old heritage European brands are reluctant to enter this market as they are scared of losing their brand image, but Chinese market is a whole new different type of market where consumers prefer shopping on local e-commerce platforms for almost everything, and if brands don’t have a suitable strategy to enter this fruitful market they will lack behind their other international counterparts.
WeChat is considered as one of the handiest app by massive audience in China, since it provides one-to-one messaging functionality, direct payment system and a high level of brand control. Companies can use it to build their own site on WeChat, fulfil orders and communicate with customers. It offers customers to purchase brand collections online, book appointments, check on the status of their online purchase and follow up on repair orders. This all can be achieved by easy access to one-to-one communication. Although at the moment e-commerce sales hold small percentage of the brand’s total offer but it has a great potential for future growth, claimed by Mr Litré, chief executive of Cartier in China.
WeChat offers opportunities for inexpensive jewellery brands
WeChat is not only suitable for luxury jewelry brands; it offers similar opportunities for affordable jewelry brands too. Pandora, Danish contemporary jewellery brand is considering to open a WeChat store, after working with several distribution partners in China and now has over 100 outlets all around the world. It opened an online store on another e-commerce platform, TMALL which is owned by Chinese ecommerce group Alibaba.
Pandora tested half of product range on WeChat portal and 15 unique products for China on TMALL, such as the gold moneybag charm worth HK$5,999. Initially, Pandora was a little hesitant to enter Chinese market due to very strong local gold market competition. Pandora believed that Chinese consumers were not used to buying branded silver jewelry. Nevertheless, Pandora targeted 25-35 years old customer group, who were more aware of global brands. This group of customers preferred buying jewelry as an accessory and not due to its expensive worth. This target group is fond of online shopping and trend of online shopping is rising. Therefore, now brands can’t rely only on brick and mortar stores in China. It has now become vital to access market via e-commerce platform to gain higher sales in China.
Client profile of Chinese consumers
Hazel Meng, a 26-year-old Chinese fashion blogger with 270,000 WeChat followers, states that her audience are exclusively looking for western brands and prefer ones with slight touch of heritage and prestige. Although, many western brands have presence on WeChat but they do not use it for selling their products. This means Ms Meng’s followers have to buy products either from physical stores or e-commerce platforms such as TMALL.com and JD.com, which are not considered trustworthy due to presence of counterfeiters and unauthorized resellers.
Chinese consumers are gradually learning about foreign brands and they are impressed with western style and culture. Increasingly, they opting to buy products from globally renowned brands. The brands are advised to create visibility on most viable digital forums.
WeChat offers all, from creating brand awareness, to multiplying sales. With the given WeChat scope entering Chinese market is reasonably a quick process as compared to 10 years ago. Now brand can break into market with several e-commerce platforms and have celebrities (KOL and influencers) wear their jewellery, claims Ms. Hartmann.
The combination of technology and community in China has given birth to a whole new medium for accessing the market. WeChat is an extremely useful app for raising brand awareness, communicating with customers and learning about their needs. Chinese consumers appreciate modern classic style of European brands but due to lack of visibility they often don’t know where to find them. Several foreign existing brands in China believe that WeChat is the best medium to reach Chinese audience and to familiarise them with brand features by narrating the story of the brand.