China’s ever-evolving digital landscape not only allows luxury brands to expand into new growth areas, but also challenges existing strategies. As online platforms in China continue to evolve, brands need to refine their online marketing, communication and sales tactics accordingly, as well as keep pace with emerging consumer segments in the market.
The upcoming Luxury Society Keynote Shanghai will take place on 26 November and delve into The New State of Commerce in China. Top-level luxury executives will be sharing their experiences and opinions through various presentations, interviews and discussion panels – including Pandora China’s Senior Vice President and General Manager, Jacques Roizen. A retail veteran well-versed in China’s digital ecosystem, Roizen will be offering insights into engaging the modern, connected Chinese consumer over a fireside chat with the Business of Fashion journalist Casey Hall.
An increasing number of luxury brands are doubling down on their e-commerce channels in China. As a category that relies heavily on in-store experiences, what can brands do on e-commerce marketplaces to replicate the off-line experience and discovery process?
For a long time, luxury brands were leveraging digital in China purely for marketing purposes, because they were fairly hesitant to enable e-commerce in China, especially with marketplaces. In the last two years we’ve seen a shift within the luxury industry, and brands are arriving on Tmall every day. However, it often feels like luxury brands have gone from one extreme to another: it is essential to remember that Tmall is not just an e-commerce marketplace, but really the biggest shopping mall in the world, and it involves a lot of customers purely window shopping online, before going offline to complete their purchase. In that context, the content on Tmall cannot be solely focused on selling and needs to include a significant part of brand storytelling, which has massive implications on the content required to operate a luxury brand on Tmall. It can be complicated by the promotional aspect of e-commerce in China and of its key shopping festivals, but customers that go to a brand’s official flagship homepage on Tmall expect more than just products and deals, and the most successful brands have developed content on par with what you would find on a more traditional .com homepage.
Livestreaming has been coming under focus in recent months because of how it helped facilitate conversions during the COVID period. What is your opinion of livestreaming and do you think this selling channel applicable to luxury brands as well?
Livestreaming is the very visible part of a revolution that has only just begun. Today, we talk a lot about the fact that livestreaming is becoming problematic for many brands, because of the difficulty to control the content, the very uneven balance in that content between selling and storytelling, and because of the overall economical equation where platforms, customers and livestream hosts are doing very well, while many brands struggle to meet profitability objectives.
It is becoming apparent that livestreaming was the first steps of many towards a shift from static images, to video content. We’ve started to see shoppers in China expect far more video content online and on product display pages (PDP) in particular. In that context, I expect livestreams and videos to take over a growing segment of the landscape. From customer service interactions that include one-on-one videos to speak with customers, to how-to demos for frequently asked questions. Chinese consumers have demonstrated their large appetite for video content, and Tmall has perfectly understood it and made it clear that over the next 12 months they expect brands to significantly increase the amount of video content, far beyond just livestreaming.
In your opinion, how has the role of the sales associate evolved with changes to the social media ecosystem and development of new channels like social selling?
I think the question of how sales associates are being deployed and embracing their role on social platforms, including WeChat sales, is a very strong indication of whether individual brands are truly leading a digital transformation beyond PowerPoint presentations and words. The leaders of this revolution have enlisted their sales associates by giving them tools that they understand and use, but the true innovators in this area have recognised the limitations of sales associates and created a specific function around online community management. Companies like Perfect Diary or Lululemon are definitely showing us the incredible opportunity for the brands that recognise the need for more authentic and community-based content.
WeChat is known for its multitude of functions and applicable uses for brands in China. What do you think is one of its most underrated capabilities that brands should tap into more?
WeChat is indeed constantly bringing out new functions that are worth testing, but today I believe that for most brands, the biggest opportunity is still in harnessing the power of social CRM. Today, brands are often collecting less data than they could from their Official Account followers. And even when they do, they rarely leverage that data to provide more targeted and tailored content to these users. This may not be a recent opportunity, but I still view it as the most impactful one in the market today.
LS Keynote 2020
Thursday, 26 November
The New State of Commerce in China
The Luxury Society Keynote Shanghai 2020 will also be broadcasted live. For more information and to register for the online event, please visit this website.
Cover Image: Pandora China