Opinion: Luxury Brands Need More Distance From Discount Season

Singles’ Day reached new heights of hysteria this year, with $25b in sales and a circus gala featuring Pharell, Nicole Kidman and founder Jack Ma in a Kung Fu fight with Jet Li.

But when you look at the top-selling brands on Singles’ Day, fast fashion and FMCG brands made up the whole list. The majority of sales came from domestic brands deeply rooted in the discount game.

A month later, 12/12 passed with less hype. Many luxury brands have used the occasion to kick off their campaigns for the holiday season, which encompasses Christmas, New Years and, after an awkward six week gap, Chinese New Year.

What luxury brands really need to do to engage Chinese consumers is to create some distance from the November discount season, and 12/12, and re-establish a sense of exclusivity. Here are three reasons why.

1. December has real festive occasions

No matter how hard marketers sell Singles’ Day as a festival, compared with Christmas and New Year it lacks a deep cultural foundation and real emotional bonds.

The hard truth is that deep discounts among price conscious consumers remains the real reason for Singles Day’s success. For Western brands trying to distinguish themselves from their Chinese peers, late December is a better opportunity 

2. Brands can take more control over their image  

Instead of being caught up in a fast fashion frenzy, brands can create their own narratives that relate the holiday season to their unique brands.

In every aspect of their marketing, brands can retain much more control over their image than if they’re merely contributing to Alibaba’s total sales figure.

Distinct holiday campaigns are an opportunity to help consumers understand a luxury brand better.

3. Price is not the only thing Chinese luxury consumers care about

The love for the brand is the real reason why consumers buy luxury products. With parties, dates and other celebration activities all lined up for the December holiday season, the need for a new dress, a new lipstick or a holiday gift is real. The emotion and the occasion demand the purchase, not the discount.

Singles’ Day is not the only occasion brands, especially luxury brands, should focus on. As a matter of fact, any luxury brands about to enter China should distance the brand from it till they establish a firm foothold in the market.

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This story was written by Chenyin Pan, China Manager of post-digital agency Fireworks


Consumer Insights, Market Analysis