Fendi is one of the few luxury brands with a locally hosted China site. (Fendi)
While some global luxury brands are at the top of their game when it comes to their digital marketing strategy in China, the vast majority still need to master some essential skills in order to keep up. A recent report on digital luxury marketing in China by L2 Think Tank found that some brands, such as Chow Tai Fook, Tommy Hilfiger, and Coach, have excellent digital strategies in China, but the majority of them fall short when it comes to even the most simple features. L2 found that 74 percent of luxury brands are considered either “feeble” or “challenged” in their China digital strategies. As a result, we’ve compiled a list of five of the most basic issues luxury brands should remember when building up a digital plan in order to remain competitive with an incredibly tech-savvy group of consumers.
Luxury brands hoping to take control of their online presence need to step up their efforts at search-engine optimization (SEO) in order to ensure that users can find their content in the first place. L2 found that less than 40 percent of global luxury brands studied appear as the first organic search result on Baidu, while 45 percent fall outside the top three results. Baidu, which takes up 61 percent of all searches in China, should be a top priority, but competitor So.com is quickly catching up with 25 percent.
When it comes to creating digital content that will engage a Chinese audience, translation of English sources isn’t enough. Companies need to have a team on the ground in China creating China-specific campaigns in order to make sure their message resonates with Chinese consumers.
While most international luxury brands have yet to offer e-commerce options on their China sites, one simple thing brands can do to encourage user engagement is display prices online. L2 found that only 9 percent of watch and jewelry brands have an e-commerce site in China and only 12 percent display prices, compared to 44 percent and 49 percent for the United States, respectively. Since “price” is the most common search term associated with luxury goods in China, offering the information consumers are looking for can draw more clicks to the site.
Even if your brand doesn’t have e-commerce, products should still be promoted on Chinese social media. According to L2’s findings, brands are improving in this regard—while only 8 percent of all luxury brands shared products from their website to social media in 2011, 61 percent do so now.
Even if you have localized content, your site won’t resonate if it’s not adjusted to local internet speed. The average load time of a website is 3.0 seconds in Shanghai compared to 1.9 in New York, meaning that fancy, high-tech animations may be dramatically hindering load time. In addition, server location also affects site speed. L2 notes that only four brands—Chow Tai Fook, Coach, Fendi, and Hugo Boss—host their China sites locally.