Head of Tmall Fashion on Localization Strategies for Luxury Brands

The recent highly publicized partnership between New York Fashion Week and China’s biggest e-commerce company Alibaba Group has brought much attention to the company’s business-to-consumer online platform Tmall.

As the Chinese e-commerce platform steps further into the luxury realm, a field it has gradually familiarized itself with since the company’s August launch of luxury-exclusive platform Luxury Pavilion, a number of luxury brands including Loewe have been jumping aboard to take advantage of what Tmall can offer.

Luxury and premium fashion brands, especially those without a Chinese root, need localization strategies that are suitable for their own image and exposure in China, said President of Tmall Fashion Jessica Liu in an interview with Chinese news site LadyMax.

In terms of how foreign luxury brands should embrace localization in the Chinese market, Liu advises they should use differentiated strategies that can be summarized in two different routes. For the brands that have a certain degree of exposure, going through buyer stores is the way to go: Korean buyer store DCG is a successful example. For brands who have little to no popularity in China’s domestic market, Liu suggests a “soft-landing” introduction—inviting these brands to partake in events hosted by well-known brands to start giving them exposure in China.

During the interview, Liu also reveals that the fashion week partnership in all four cities—New York, Paris, Milan, and London—has actually been brewing in secret for two years, with New York selected as the first location to put to action. The latest partnership deal is expected to bring as many of the high-performing brands at New York Fashion Week as possible to Tmall and feature some new brands like Opening Ceremony and Robert Galler at the upcoming November “Single’s Day” Shopping Festival on Tmall.

Liu puts a strong emphasis on turning the brands’ Tmall stores into their second official websites. “Tmall’s domestic market share of business-to-consumer e-commerce platform is around 80 percent,” she said. “It makes sense that we become the brands’ second official site.”

She points out that her team is making the effort to collaborate with the individual brands to carry over the brand image across the Tmall sites. “We believe that the designers and artists are not just selling products to us, they are also selling an artistic concept,” she said. “As a result, maintaining and transferring that artistic concept to our Tmall platforms is crucial to brands.”

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Consumer, E-Commerce, Industry Sectors, Market Trends

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