What Happened: On July 1, Max Mara soft-launched its official flagship store on Tmall Luxury Pavilion, featuring a full range of products, including ready-to-wear, handbags, leather goods, shoes, and accessories. Meanwhile, in celebration of Max Mara’s 70th anniversary, the house released a capsule collection with seven artists who created seven special-edition T-shirts. The shirt co-created with Russian artist Valery Katsuba dropped on Tmall “Hey Box” — the e-commerce platform’s gateway for consumers to find new products.
British label Paul Smith also soft-launched its flagship store on the marketplace earlier this week, stocking it with a selection of Paul Smith Spring 2021 men’s and women’s ready-to-wear styles. The online shop’s official launch in August will showcase the brand’s Fall 2021 collection of informal and sportswear-inspired designs from the recently launched PS Paul Smith Happy collection, which features a distinctive PS Happy logo aimed at younger consumers.
The Jing Take: Max Mara’s alliance with Tmall marked the first time the house cooperated with a domestic third-party e-commerce platform. As one of the first Western brands to enter the China market, the brand’s awareness has grown organically from offline to online, thanks to the country’s digital transformation during the pandemic. Therefore, joining Tmall is an obvious way to turn social traffic into online transactions while offering Chinese consumers a more comprehensive and convenient digital shopping experience.
Paul Smith, on the other hand, is not a newcomer to the e-commerce channel. The brand opened its online shop on JD.com in 2019 and has attracted 87,000 followers there. However, its social presence is relatively moderate in China, with only 75,850 followers on Weibo and 7000 posts on Little Red Book, which has made it challenging for the brand to drive traffic to its flagship on Tmall.
Now that over 200 brands have tapped into Tmall Luxury Pavilion to open their flagship stores, digital channel rivalries are heating up. However, the link with an e-commerce giant is not a shortcut for local shoppers. Instead, brands need to recognize that these platforms are a marketing conduit in addition to a retail channel, and they must build an organic social-to-e-commerce loop within China’s new digital economy.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.