“There Is No Doubt That The Chinese Are Still Passionate About Watches”
As observers keep a close eye on the China luxury watch market to see if this fall’s leadership transition leads to a sales bump in the months ahead, a new report by the Digital Luxury Group (DLG), Europa Star and the Luxury Society indicates that Chinese interest in high-end timepieces remains high and growing. Coming in advance of next year’s full report, DLG’s World Luxury Index China: Watches study looks at the most searched-for luxury watch brands in China.
Among the findings of the study is that China’s passion for watches has yet to diminish, with aggregate online searches for a group of 65 international brands rising nearly 40 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2012. Despite slower macroeconomic growth this year and greater economic uncertainty, “The interest continues to grow,” says Florent Bondoux, Head of Strategy and Intelligence at DLG, “but there are indicators that the purchase cycle has slowed.”
Another major finding of the study is that the biggest names continue to enjoy the greatest interest, owing largely to the immaturity of the market. The top ten most-searched luxury watch brands — Omega, Rolex, Longines, Cartier, Rado, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, IWC, Piaget, and Chanel — account for almost 80 percent of searches. This stands out from an older market like France, where the top ten makes up 64 percent of searches.
At the same time, the study finds that Chinese consumers are becoming more educated and sophisticated. This year, for the first time DLG notes that netizens are using style-related searches (e.g., “classic style” or “men’s watch”) more often than price-related searches. This, DLG points out, is the cause of several factors, “from a more educated consumer who is now deciphering between a brand’s different models, to gift-purchase related searches which tend to skew more generic.” A more educated consumer base is also creating new opportunities for watchmakers to get creative in tackling the market, beyond simply creating localized timepieces.
A downloadable version of the report is available for free on the DLG site.