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 latest Chinese Celebrity Commercial Value Report,
- Generation Z's zeal for short video app Douyin, and
- The Fake high-end baijiu discovered on JD.com.
According to a new report co-released by the data intelligence firm CBNData and Alibaba Group, Chinese actress Yang Mi, who has closely worked with premium brands like Michael Kors and Estée Lauder, had the most influence on consumer purchases in the first quarter of 2018. Hong Kong actor Shawn Yue, who became the brand ambassador of Tommy Hilfiger last summer, came second, followed by Fan Bingbing and young actress Jiang Shuying.
In recent years, a great number of international luxury brands have teamed up with popular Chinese celebrities with the hope of increasing awareness and reaching more consumers. French luxury powerhouse Christian Dior, for instance, appointed Chinese actress Angelababy, aka Yang Ying, to be its first brand ambassador in the country. Though the pairing was questioned by the public, Angelababy succeeded in boosting the popularity of Dior among the younger generation. As the market for brand partners grows more competitive, it has become important that KOLs and brand ambassadors can turn their popularity into sales figures. After Yang Mi became the brand ambassador of Michael Kors, sales increased significantly in the region.
A new study released by Tencent's research lab, Ku'E Club, discovered that China's Generation Z, or Post-95s, are the main users of the country's hip social media app Douyin. Around 72 percent of them said they opened the app every day, with 32 percent of them spending more than an hour.
Chinese youths have shown great enthusiasm for short videos, and Musical.ly copycat Douyin has become one of the most popular social media apps in China over the past year. Even luxury brands such as Dior and Michael Kors have released campaigns on the platform. The explosive growth of Douyin in China has caught the attention of leading tech companies including Tencent. Not wanting the competition, WeChat recently banned a viral video made by Douyin that promoted its collaboration with the country's top museums.
Last week, a Chinese consumer reported that he bought a fake Flying Fairy Maotai (飞天茅台) on China's second-largest e-commerce platform, JD.com. Flying Fairy Maotai is one of the most popular liquors produced by Kweichow Maotai (贵州茅台), and costs almost 1,500 RMB (237) per bottle. Despite the high price, Flying Fairy Maotai is often in short supply, meaning consumers in China are willing to pay more than retail price.
JD.com later admitted the bottle bought by that consumer was fake, but said the problem was with the logistics team as an unidentified person swapped a real bottle for the fake one. On Thursday, Li Baofang, Chairman of Kweichow Maotai told the company's investors that "I fully trust [JD.com CEO and Chairman] Richard Liu. He is a good business partner and we believe he will be able to investigate this matter thoroughly."
Operating more like Amazon than ebay, JD.com prides itself on selling authentic items, something crucial to its forays into the luxury market. However, a number of counterfeiting scandals on the platform have emerged on the platform lately.