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Revolutionizing Luxury Branding: Maximising Digitisation in China’s Growing Market

Justin Wong


In 2023, China stands as a dynamic epicentre of luxury consumption, and digitisation is proving to be the ultimate catalyst for luxury brands aiming to capture this burgeoning market. The aftermath of the pandemic has steered luxury consumption towards local landscapes, accentuating the role of digital platforms in enhancing brand narratives and connecting with a diverse consumer base.

As the world grappled with the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic, China emerged as a resilient titan, setting the stage for transformative shifts in the luxury domain. While the pandemic initially cast shadows of uncertainty, China’s pragmatic response and rapid recovery galvanised its domestic market. As a result, a significant portion of luxury consumption remains firmly rooted within its borders. However, this isn’t merely a story of geographical confinement; it’s a narrative of strategic recalibration that has unlocked unparalleled opportunities for luxury brands.

In a landscape where local is the new global, luxury brands are charting innovative trajectories to cater to this recalibrated consumer dynamic. This metamorphosis in consumption patterns has unfurled a remarkable revelation – the digital realm stands as an integral partner in the journey of luxury brands seeking to resonate with the evolving aspirations of Chinese consumers.

In this article, you will learn about:

  • Diverse Consumer Landscape: Unravelling Demographics
  • Reshaping Digital Brand Communication: An Evolutionary Experiment
  • Localising in a Digital Era: The Second Space
  • Digital Platforms: Catalysts for Consumer Influence and Action
  • Luxury Mini-Programs: The Shapeshifters of Success
  • China’s Digital Odyssey: Pioneering Pathways for Luxury Brands

Diverse Consumer Landscape: Unravelling Demographics

The Chinese luxury market paints a unique canvas marked by diverse consumer profiles. A notable trend unfolds as consumers aged 30 and below represent nearly half of the market’s demographic, a figure significantly younger compared to global counterparts. Among this segment, the Z generation emerges as a driving force, demonstrating an unwavering penchant for online channels. These digital natives are at the forefront of embracing innovative digital marketing strategies and engaging on social platforms.

Examining geographical contours, lower-tier markets seize the spotlight, contributing approximately 50% of the market’s size. Within these markets, online information channels exert a profound influence, wielding the power to shape consumer preferences and behaviours.

Reshaping Digital Brand Communication: An Evolutionary Experiment

Over the past three years, luxury brands have harnessed the vast canvas of China as a testing ground, embarking on a journey of exploration. The goal: establishing seamless and interactive connections with the new generation of consumers. The linchpin of this endeavour is emotional resonance, achieved through an array of online communication strategies.

Luxury brands are ingeniously leveraging a diverse array of digital intellectual properties (IPs) to tap into the vast expanse of the Chinese consumer base. Collaborations with gaming, music, and messaging software platforms are shaping a new frontier of engagement. A constellation of successful digital marketing initiatives bears testament to this paradigm shift. Gucci’s partnership with Super QQ Show, Balenciaga’s liaison with Peace Elite, Dior’s foray into QQ Music, and Givenchy’s collaboration with Honor of Kings are just a few instances of brands harnessing the power of digital platforms to forge strong connections.

Localising in a Digital Era: The Second Space

The narrative of localization takes centre stage in the evolving luxury landscape. With a significant portion of luxury consumption poised to remain in mainland China, brands are directing their focus towards bridging the gap between their offerings and the unique preferences of local consumers. While the emergence of localised physical stores is evident, the digital realm emerges as a vital supplementary avenue.

Innovative luxury brands are orchestrating a symphony of online experiences, creating distinctive “second spaces” that seamlessly blend the allure of physical stores with the convenience of digital platforms. This synergy enhances brand narratives, locally resonating with audiences. A strategic pivot towards localised content, rooted in the celebration of local festivals, is a direct route to capturing consumer attention. The digital realm comes alive with festival-themed videos, interactive WeChat Moments advertisements, and engaging red envelope campaigns during festive seasons.

Digital Platforms: Catalysts for Consumer Influence and Action

The digital frontier has transcended mere communication channels to evolve into strategic business battlegrounds. A staggering 92% of consumer decisions are now influenced by online channels during the interest stage. This transformation is further underscored by the rapid growth of online purchasing behaviour.

An analysis of shopping channels in China reveals a monumental shift, with online platforms surging from 29% in 2019 to a commanding 46% in the first quarter of 2023. This trajectory reflects a growing preference for online shopping, a trend expected to endure in the short term. Brands are reaping the benefits of this shift, with their official websites, brand mini-programs, and purchasing channels activated through WeChat influencers garnering substantial growth in purchase intention (10-15%). This leap surpasses traditional avenues like domestic e-commerce platforms and offline stores (5-10%).

Luxury Mini-Programs: The Shapeshifters of Success

In tandem with evolving consumer preferences, luxury brands are adopting a more flexible and diversified approach to their sales layouts. A prime example is the transformative journey of brand WeChat mini-programs. What once started as experimental ventures have emerged as crucial business battlegrounds for luxury brands. The data reveals an intriguing evolution. In 2019, a mere 20% of luxury mini-programs incorporated online shopping functionalities. This landscape transformed in 2020 when over 15 luxury brands launched online mini-program pop-up stores.

Fast-forward to 2022, where leading luxury conglomerates strategically established permanent mini-program stores, offering an expansive array of stock-keeping units (SKUs) year-round. Astonishingly, more than ten luxury mini-programs achieved annual transaction volumes exceeding 100 million yuan, underscoring their transformative impact on luxury brand engagement.

China’s Digital Odyssey: Pioneering Pathways for Luxury Brands

China stands resolutely at the forefront of global digitisation, blazing trails that hold profound implications for the growth trajectory of luxury brands. Within the sprawling expanse of the online domain, luxury brands unearth boundless potential, sculpting narratives that resonate with the digital-savvy consumer base.

In this epoch of transformative change, the resonance of luxury brands within the digital sphere is a testament to their agility and adaptability. The corridors of innovation resonate with the promise of uncharted horizons, where luxury brands harness the power of digitisation to foster lasting connections, craft compelling narratives, and unfurl a symphony of success that echoes through the annals of time.

Justin Wong

Justin Wong

As the commanding officer of the Marketing Operations Division at Kung Fu Data, Justin is a passionate strategist, content creator and results finder with a penchant for storytelling. Justin's experience involves understanding the needs of the marketplace and turning those insights into actionable strategies.​

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