In “Chinese Whispers”, we share the biggest news stories about the luxury industry in China that haven’t yet made it into the English language.
In this week’s edition, we discuss:
- The competition hots up for top tech companies ahead of China’s mid-year shopping festival,
- A new home decor store by Bottega Veneta in Shanghai, and
- The fake high-end baijiu discovered on JD.com.
1. E-tail Wars: JD.com Reportedly Pressures Tencent to Stop Selling on Tmall – NetEase
In the lead-up to China’s “618” mid-year shopping festival, Tencent Holdings opened a new flagship store on Alibaba’s Tmall to sell its artificial intelligence speakers. Less than 24 hours after the launch, and the store had mysteriously removed all of its products from the site. Chinese media outlet NetEase reported this removal was likely to be due to Tencent’s business partner, JD.com, forcing the store to close. JD.com is a direct competitor to Alibaba in China’s booming e-commerce market.
The NetEase report cited another media outlet 36Kr for Tmall’s response, writing, “Tmall stated they did not remove any products from Tencent’s flagship store. The store belongs to Tencent. Tencent has the autonomy to decide which product to be listed online as long as it is in line with government regulations.”
Also doing the rounds online is a screenshot showing one of Tencent’s customer service representatives telling a customer the product removal was due to the fact that all of the products have sold out. However, this reasoning wouldn’t explain why Tmall customers can no longer search for Tencent’s flagship store on the site, or browse through their product offerings.
China’s “618” mid-year shopping festival was initiated by JD.com to compete with Alibaba’s Singles’ Day shopping event, which happens each November. It has now become a shopping extravaganza that all e-commerce players in the country participate in.
2. Bottega Veneta Opens a Home Decor Boutique in Shanghai – Fashion Business
Earlier this week, Kering-owned Italian luxury label Bottega Veneta launched a new home decor boutique in Shanghai. The store showcases the brand’s home decor production line along with a special edition range exhibited during the 2018 Salone Del Mobile – Milan’s large-scale furniture fair.
Home Decor in China holds huge potential for brands, with luxury players like Gucci and Hermès-owned label Shang Xia stepping up their efforts to lure the Chinese market. Last year, Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce platform, also bet on the emerging sector with the debut of Home Times – a furniture store that incorporates a “New Retail” model. The Hangzhou-based space is equipped with digital technologies that allow shoppers to experience the integration of online and offline shopping conveniently in one space.
3. Gender Lines are Blurring Among Young Chinese Fashionistas – Yecao New Consumption
According to a new report released by VIP.com and JD.com, the style lines between traditional genders are starting to blur in China. The trend is particularly prominent amongst the country’s post-90 and post-95 generations. This is evidenced by more men starting to purchase cosmetics and fashion products, and women showing an interest in gaming and sports.
This new trend could have big implications on the marketing and branding strategies of luxury companies. Some have already successfully made use of this mentality by working with androgynous-looking brand ambassadors. For example, SK-II recently hired young singer Dou Jingtong, while Gucci chose pop star Chris Lee as the newest face of the brand.