Every fashion brand with the desire to distribute its products in China needs to adapt its strategy in order to suit the Chinese market specificities.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when selling fashion products in China, is that having a good reputation is key. Chinese shoppers are very sensitive to brand’s reputation and before buying fashion products they will research a brand’s reputation online.
In order to guide Western fashion brands stepping into the Chinese market for the first time we have compiled a list of ‘hot’ tips for fashion brands to follow to help them connect with their Chinese target.
Fashion brands must have a qualitative online presence
It is commonly know that Chinese consumers are hyper-connected. They spend more than 40 hours per week on the Internet. If a brand wants to have a chance to break through the Chinese fashion market, it must be visible on the Internet. In fact, it’s the place where shoppers seek for information. One of the best ways to do it is to use the Chinese social media platform to share brand information.
Weibo and WeChat are the most popular social networks right now in China. Interaction and discussion are the keys to conquer the Chinese shoppers on social medias.
WeChat (very often compared to WhatsApp) allows the brands to talk directly to their followers in a more intimate manner, almost as if they were friends. Luxury fashion brands also use these tools to communicate with their customers. One of the fashion brands with the most developed social media strategy in China is Louis Vuitton. Every time they organize events, they send to their followers photos of those events. It’s exactly as if Louis Vuitton was sending consumers news through Facebook.
But Louis Vuitton has taken its social media strategy even further as they have developed a WeChat chat which consumers can ask their questions, with a representative from Louis Vuitton’s team answering them directly. Although it is very important for a fashion brand to be online, they also need to pay special attention to their e-reputation.
The Chinese shoppers will look carefully at a brand e-reputation before buying a product, which has developed into a cultural norm. China is known for its overflowing market of counterfeit and copied goods, therefore before purchasing a product from a new brand they are not well associated with, the Chinese consumers will check its credentials online. However, if they are unable to find the information they need or if the brand’s online reputation is bad there is a hundred percent guarantee that they will not make a purchase.
So fashion brands expanding in China need to establish a strong PR strategy. The social media selection is crucial. According to the last study from Iresearch, fashion websites in China reached 12.418 million users per day. The most popular are Rayli (510,000 thousand visitors per hours) Yoka and Onlylady. Elle China and Vogue ranked 6th and 8th respectively. It is unsurprising that these websites are an impressive breeding ground for fashion brands looking to communicate online.
Being featured on one of them is an excellent opportunity for brands wanting to increase their awareness on the Chinese market.
Fashion brands must develop a storytelling campaign.
A well-designed storytelling campaign will strongly affect Chinese customers as it will allow them to connect emotionally with the brand. It is also an excellent way to increase the number of potential clients. Burberry in China has it’s story-telling campaign strategy down to a T in China and plays heavily on its English roots and history in its communication.
Fashion brands must allow their consumers to buy on their mobile.
80 percent of Chinese consumers use their smartphones to go online and many of them purchase directly from their mobiles. Therefore fashion brands must be able to provide their customers with the opportunity to order their products directly from their mobiles or collaborate with distributors offering this option.
For example, Yoox, the luxury e-commerce website has set up a partnership with WeChat to create a unique customer experience through mobile. The Yoox account on WeChat offers to consumers the ability to chat with someone from the customer service, or access personal stylist advice. If the Chinese consumer see something they liked on the account, then they are able to directly buy it from the WeChat App. In this sense the purchasing journey is facilitated and adapted to Chinese consumption habits, which is one of the reasons they have succeeded in China.
The Chinese fashion market is complex but still full of opportunities for brands looking to expand their activities abroad. This is one of the most promising markets as the Chinese are more and more educated regarding fashion. A brand looking to enter the Chinese market must therefore think global but act local. Cultural differences, market differences, and language barriers are sometime difficult to overcome. But to set foot quickly and easily, one thing is certain, brands must focus on digital.
Charlène Moglia, project manager at Gentlemen marketing agency in Shanghai, a digital marketing agency which helps fashion brand to increase their brand awareness in China. The company counts among its clients Vogue France, Jaubalet, Lancôme and Yves Rocher.