The following is an excerpt from Jing Daily’s market report “The Secrets to Selling Hard Luxury To China’s Gen Z.” Packed with 73 pages of market research, spotlight interviews with industry insiders and brand executives, and revenue-generating consumer insights, the report is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding — and effectively reaching — China’s next generation of luxury watch and jewelery buyers. Get your copy today on our Reports page.
The digital and mobile-first nature of Chinese millennials and Gen Zers presents a unique opportunity and challenge for selling hard luxury. Compared to buying an
ultra-fast-fashion garment from a brand like Shein or piece of homeware from Taobao, purchasing a luxury watch or item of jewelry online is a relatively new concept in China.
However, this type of online-centric luxury consumption has steadily ramped up since the first days of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. According to Alibaba data, millennials currently make more than 70 percent of luxury fashion and lifestyle product purchases on Tmall, yet Gen Z is the fastest-growing demographic. Today, it is imperative for hard luxury brands to reach both consumer segments via the platforms – online or offline – that matter to them.
In April 2021, the Alibaba-owned luxury e-commerce platform Tmall Luxury Pavilion officially partnered with Watches and Wonders in advance of its in-person Shanghai installment. The platform showcased watches from 11 brands, among them Vacheron Constantin, Chopard, and Cartier, giving consumers access to 3D virtual try-on and product customization capabilities and livestream support.
To promote the collaboration, Tmall worked with 29-year-old Li Jiaqi (李佳琦, aka Austin Li), one of China’s most popular livestreamers and beauty influencers, on a three-hour showcase featuring timepieces from Watches and Wonders, which attracted an estimated seven million viewers on Weibo.
In recent years, Tmall has enticed a growing number of watch brands to launch official online storefronts in its exclusive Luxury Pavilion. In 2019, Richemont and Alibaba Group announced a strategic partnership that saw the launch of a NET-A-PORTER flagship on Tmall Luxury Pavilion that stocked all of Richemont’s watch brands — a portfolio that includes Cartier, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, and Montblanc. By 2021, Tmall Luxury Pavilion had also strengthened its relationships with LVMH and the Swatch Group.
The rapid moves to adopt e-commerce and Tmall storefronts after years of resistance to selling online in China was hastened by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which elevated the importance of the China market owing to the country’s relatively rapid containment of the virus. Vacheron Constantin used the platform to introduce its Malte Manual- Winding China limited-edition watch, limited to just 100 timepieces, while Omega more actively used WeChat to communicate with potential customers and facilitate sales.
Chinese consumers have proven very open to the idea of purchasing luxury timepieces online. According to Tmall Luxury Pavilion, the platform saw a 250 percent year-over-year increase in luxury watch sales in 2020 — an otherwise challenging year for hard luxury.
Get your copy of “The Secrets to Selling Hard Luxury To China’s Gen Z” on our Reports page.