Do Chinese consumers want hyper-luxury or trendy luxury?
The following is an excerpt from Jing Daily’s information report “The Drop: Understanding Successful Brand Collaborations”. Comprising 45 pages of market research, interviews with industry insiders and brand executives, and revenue-driving consumer insights, the report is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how strategically planned declines expertise can boost sales in the critical Chinese market. Get your copy today on our Reports page.
When and where consumers have access to collaborations is critical. While both factors contribute to the level of exclusivity of a drop, the first allows brands to control pre-release anticipation, and the second refers to its accessibility. Offering early or early access to upcoming co-branded products can spark conversations around their release, once that access is revealed. If a brand’s chosen partner is an artist, their fan base makes them the initial source of such hype; they can use the fame of family and friends to build engagement around a collaboration months or even years before it launches.
Labels are adopting a variety of early access tactics. In China and the West, it’s common for beauty brands to grant early access to key opinion leaders (KOLs), allowing them to review and demonstrate the product before it goes on sale. For example, Estée Lauder gave several Chinese KOL beauties early access to limited Estée Lauder x SHUSHU/TONG beauty gift sets for the 2021 Qixi Festival, the traditional Chinese Valentine’s Day. On local social media platforms such as Weibo, KOLs posted photos of themselves wearing makeup and praised the collaboration for its quality and originality. A beauty influencer with nearly 3.7 million followers even produced her own 90-second promotional video to promote the collaboration, receiving over 25,000 likes. The same strategy was adopted by the Bobbi Brown x Monopoly collaboration released in fall 2021, in which KOLs created over 75% of the original promotional content on Weibo.
Big luxury brands rely far less on private influencers to drive consumer anticipation in China. Instead, they usually grant early access to brand partners or celebrities. For their collaboration, Gucci and The North Face released photos of various Chinese celebrities (many of whom were the former’s brand partners), wearing outfits several days before the collaboration launched in China (December 29, 2020 , the earliest in the world). Another Louis Vuitton tie-up, this time with Supreme, was spurred by Chinese idol Lu Han, who acquired a highly sought-after collaboration hoodie ahead of its official release in China on June 30, 2017. A day before, Lu said posted photos of himself. wearing the hoodie on Weibo, which received over 1.8 million likes.
Beauty and luxury brands use a wide range of first access strategies due to the mastery of different levels of cultural capital. Beauty brands are relatively prolific in introducing new offerings and conducting cross-brand collaborations, and therefore try harder to distinguish their products. The beauty market in China in particular is experiencing fiercer competition than the country’s luxury market, given the simultaneous presence of Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Western beauty companies. Therefore, beauty influencers play a vital role in explaining and demonstrating in detail the uniqueness of products.
While individually beauty KOLs have far fewer social media followers than celebrities, overall they are crucial in persuading their followers, who are the targeted consumers of beauty names, to purchase products. . In contrast, renowned luxury fashion houses like Louis Vuitton and Gucci have much higher cultural capital, so their collaborations require more assistance to create virality, instead of having to convince potential customers to ‘to buy. So images of pop idols wearing yet-to-be-released collaborations are usually enough for promotion.
Get your copy of “The Drop: Understanding Successful Brand Collaborations” on our Reports page.