Pomellato CEO Sabina Belli on China's Gen Z Opportunity For Hard Luxury Brands

    To learn a little more about how hard luxury brands are connecting with Gen Zers, Jing Daily chats with Sabina Belli, CEO of Italian jeweler Pomellato.
    Kering-owned Pomellato has seen great success in China in recent years. Image: Courtesy of Pomellato.
      Published   in Profile

    As detailed in Jing Daily's new must-read market report,

    The Secrets to Selling Hard Luxury To China’s Gen Z#

    , young consumers are an integral customer base in the China luxury market. Increasingly led by millennials, the market is getting even younger as Gen Zers now purchase around 15 percent of all luxury goods in China and rising. This means luxury watchmakers and jewelry brands now face one clear and critical question in China: what is the best way to reach, influence, and retain Gen Z consumers in China?

    To learn a little more about what hard luxury brands are seeing on the ground both in China and globally, Jing Daily reconnected with Sabina Belli, CEO of the Kering-owned Italian jeweler Pomellato, one of the world’s leading fine jewelry brands and a perennial favorite among jewelry lovers drawn to its bold use of colors, choice of gems, and organic designs.

    Jing Daily (JD): What jewelry designs or materials is Pomellato finding are most interesting to young Chinese consumers right now, especially millennials and Gen Zers?#

    Sabina Belli (SB):#

    In terms of materials, gold is and has historically been the most popular choice in China. Today there is a special appreciation of the “rose-pink” gold. Of course, this is wonderful news for Pomellato lovers as we specialize in gold, and the Chinese luxury consumer has especially appreciated Pomellato’s unique, patented variety of rose-gold.

    It is true that white diamonds have contributed to the growth of jewelry in China in the last decade, but it’s actually China’s demand for colored gemstones that is growing fastest. Collectors and other youthful consumers seem to be more and more open to and in search of unique ways to express themselves. Colored gemstones are the perfect means to do this, being so closely associated with imagination and storytelling.

    Pomellato CEO Sabina Belli. Image: Courtesy of Pomellato.

    Does Pomellato have a sense of what is spurring interest in luxury jewelry among these young consumers? Do you think that the key drivers are things like friends, social media, influencers, or celebrities? Or are consumers simply discovering specific brands or timepieces organically as their income and brand awareness rises?#

    Our jewelry is joyful, contemporary, timeless and fashionable – all of which appeal to the young consumer. So, I actually believe it’s Pomellato’s very singular approach to luxury jewelry creation that continues to spur the interest. Of course, our Creative Director Vincenzo Castaldo is always innovating simply brilliant ideas, combining the art of Milanese craftsmanship in new Pomellato masterpieces. For example, as red garnet is the birthstone for the month of January, we created a special parure for the important upcoming Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day. Pomellato just launched the exclusive new red garnet and white diamond Nudo collection that includes a ring, a newly-designed pendant, and earrings. For this initiative and others, we have been leveraging communication via social media with the support of celebrities and influencers to get our message out. I think that the key is to own our authenticity that stems from the brand’s DNA and values, and inform and engage the consumer accordingly.

    Of course, we know that young consumers are indeed more responsive to social media including but not limited to WeChat, Weibo and Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book) platforms – and we meet them there. After all, this is the modern means to search and uncover the novelty of a brand, as well as explore the high-quality products that inspire our clients. We know social media to be a resource on how they can learn about and develop an affinity for brands, whether through the recommendation of their favorite celebrities and influencers, or through their own luxury experiences.

    Right now, do young (Gen Z) Chinese consumers appear to prefer shopping at Pomellato stores in person or do they prefer to purchase (if and when possible) online?#

    It is not unusual for Gen Z consumers to always have a mobile in their hands! In China, the phone is the preferred tool for everyday online shopping needs – even more so than other countries – especially during the pandemic. And since there aren’t the restraints of time or physical proximity, young Chinese consumers are able to browse and purchase luxury products in the ease and comfort of their own homes – whether online using the [WeChat] Mini Program or on popular luxury e-commerce platforms.

    Coupled with the online experience, brick-and-mortar stores do remain the priority for the luxury customer experience. After all, it’s in person that we are able to host in-boutique gemstone workshops or other types of interactive, hands-on experiences that really engage our clients. For online, Pomellato has launched its own WeChat Mini program over the past year. But we also opened a flagship store on Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion. And we launched the Pomellato China Website, allowing shoppers to browse our brand stories online or to find the latest events and happenings.

    What do you think it is about the physical store experience that leads some Gen Zers to choose that route to purchase?#

    Physical stores are designed to impart the authentic style and spirit of the brand, bringing the feel of Milan to China. The Pomellato boutique is decorated in a retro 70’s Italian style, its eye-catching, contemporary prints act as the backdrop to our jewels. Our interiors and furniture are all designed and fabricated in Italy, so Milan quality and comfort are brought to China’s door.

    Young shoppers expect an omnichannel experience. Pomellato was proud to be one of the first brands to launch a virtual “try-on” app complete with the possibility of determining traceability in our Mini Program. We brought augmented reality technology to the boutique environment as well, or clients may come in to be pampered by our sales associates in a one-on-one styling consultation.

    What does Pomellato think are the biggest challenges to selling luxury jewelry to Gen Z consumers in China? How does it compare to other markets?#

    Most Chinese Gen Z consumers are quite sophisticated – always looking for something new and fresh. To meet the changing demands of the Chinese Gen Z consumer, luxury brands need to stay creative and quickly responsive to the active but challenging Chinese jewelry market. There is a growing sense of cultural pride as the Chinese economy develops. It’s become really important to incorporate this pride in China while making sure products are custom-designed for a selected clientele.

    With regards to international markets, technology is key and is a versatile tool that helps nurture the relationships with our clients in new ways. Today, consumers are increasingly digital savvy and well informed, more inclined than ever to buy jewelry online even for higher tickets. Moreover, we have witnessed an increasing appreciation for eco-conscious and socially aware brands and products. Pomellato is proud to be one of the first brands to achieve 100 percent purchasing of responsible gold. A Milanese brand with its own style, based on design, craftsmanship and color that makes the difference even in the way we meet our customers’ expectations and needs.

    Download your copy of The Secrets to Selling Hard Luxury To China’s Gen Z on our Reports page.#

    Discover more
    Daily BriefAnalysis, news, and insights delivered to your inbox.