8 Chinese Localization Tips for Fashion and Luxury Brands (2019)
Maria Krisette Capati, Author
08 September 2019
China remains on top of the ranks when it comes to the consumption of luxury goods.
According to McKinsey’s China Luxury Report 2019, “Chinese consumers are set to contribute almost two-thirds of global growth in luxury spending.”
One of the key drivers of growth are the young, affluent Chinese consumers whose penchant for luxury goods and fashion brands create a ripple effect on sales, whether they’re at home or overseas.
In short, the luxury and fashion markets continue to thrive. But global luxury brands should also focus on establishing Chinese localization strategies.
Explore how Chinese localization tips can help make your brands appealing to consumers.
#1 Know your audience and focus on the post ’80s/’90s generations
Have you decided on which market segment you want to focus on? The post-’80s and ’90s generations are the key drivers of growth in the luxury market.
These consumers are already at the peak of their careers, and they earn more. Thus, they can afford to travel and spend money on luxury goods.
Two of the motivations, why they spend is to show the success they’ve achieved. The other is to live the individualism principle. They aim to be unique, and so it affects how they spend money. Those born in post-’90s spend an average of 25,0000 RMB annually on luxury goods.
The young, affluent Chinese make up 60% of international travel. So, whether your products are sold in Mainland or in your home country, language solutions and localization are indispensable in your business development and expansion.
Action plan: You need to work with translators and transcreators or copywriters who can work on your marketing materials. They must understand the style and language that this market segment use. The younger generation consumes more information than the previous generation. As a global luxury brand, you are also competing with a short attention span and ads everywhere.
#2 Geography matters, tier 2-3 cities or overseas
Most wealthy consumers live in urban cities. But it’s also important to take a look at your tier 2 and 3 cities strategies. The smaller cities are also progressing, and they account for most of China’s population, too.
So, are you only up for the challenge to attract young, affluent Chinese consumers? You might want to step back and also consider the geography of your market. 45% of middle-class consumers in tier 2 and tier 3 cities show interest in buying luxury goods.
Another market segment you want to consider on your Chinese localization is the middle-class consumers. The items that are relevant to them are fashion, shoes, skincare, and cosmetics.
But before jumping into the tier 2 or tier 3 expansions, luxury brands should first establish a strong presence with flagship stores in tier 1 cities. 37% of middle-class consumers can’t be simply overlooked, they also live there.
One of the drivers of growth in these emerging cities is the convenience and easy access to social media and e-commerce apps.
Action plan: You must also consider the key cities and regions you want to focus on. This will also affect the type of Chinese language you want to use, whether your translations of fashion catalogues and materials are in Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese. Mainland China uses Simplified Chinese. But if you choose to also focus on Guangdong province and Hong Kong, they use Traditional Chinese and also speak Cantonese, not Mandarin. This will help you decide which appropriate dialect to use on voice-over projects, too.
#3 Diversify your marketing campaigns
You can’t focus on one social media channel to engage with your target audience.
While WeChat remains the universal app in China, and Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube aren’t available, you need to marketing specialists and Chinese copywriters to localize your promotional campaigns based on the age, income, preferences, and more.
92% of luxury brands are on WeChat, but there’s are things they still need to work on in reaching out to consumers. These days, WeChat has a host of features for brands to capitalize such as mini-programs, geolocation capabilities, e-commerce integration, auto-reply via voice messages and more.
The popularity of short video apps is also shaping the e-commerce sector, where luxury brands started using Douyin to engage with the audience. However, although there are traces of success in engagement with the audience, consumers still prefer other means of channels, including buying in-stores, especially for luxury goods.
Action plan: Work with local talents to help you grow your social media strategy on WeChat and other apps that will help you stay connected with your consumers and community. You also need to have writers and copywriters to handle those social media updates and captions if you want to use one or two channels where your consumers always hang out. Remember, marketing campaigns also include promotional videos and teasers about your products, which global luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Dior, and among others are good at publishing them that make it appealing to the consumers.
#4 Consider your e-commerce strategy
When it comes to e-commerce, China remains the fastest-growing market in the world. For luxury brands, this is a significant consideration as to which platform you’re going to sell your products. And of course, your main website will always be a source of information about your products.
Most luxury brands have a Chinese version of their English website, and they also allow consumers to buy goods directly from them. Dior’s localized Chinese website is a good example. Users can directly order to them and pay via Alipay, online banking payment and WeChatPay.
Other luxury brands consider other e-commerce platforms such as Tmall to sell their goods.
If you’re targeting the young, affluent consumers, keep in mind that European brands have the highest brand recognition, which they most desire.
Action plan: Streamline your localization strategy and be consistent on translating all your materials, whether online or on. A Chinese website is a good investment, especially if you put all the necessary information about your products. You can direct consumers to your website even if you have other third-party channels or platforms that will help generate traffic.
#5 Localized your customer experience
While the internet has a significant influence on how consumers buy products, if you’re in the luxury retailing business, you shouldn’t forget to localize your customer experience at your retail stores.
Online marketing efforts and public relations are necessary to gain exposure. There’s no doubt about that. But the customer experience has to be streamlined to make sure you close the gap between promotions and actual sales.
Consumers who love to buy luxury goods still prefer to purchase in-stores according to the report mentioned in the first few paragraphs. Customer experience – in-person digital ads experiences at brand stores – influences their purchases. On the other hand, e-commerce and online stores of brands are secondary channels for consumers to buy the goods.
Action plan: Providing an unparalleled customer experience is impossible to execute overnight. Continuously train your team about the culture of your consumers so they can better interact with them. Provide e-learning materials to your sales team to make sure you have a unified system to close the sales from your online store to in-store purchases.
#6 Consumers are influenced by online and offline touchpoints
In connection with the previous point about customer experience, online and offline experiences are critical touchpoints for luxury consumers. If you want to keep the young, affluent Chinese shopper to be in the loop for your in-store sales, your sales team can make or break this experience.
These types of consumers are looking for advice and fashion suggestions, which of course, instead of being just taking the role of a “salesperson” at your store, your team should function as consultants or go the extra mile, like a friend who will help them handpick the best accessories and fashion statement while shopping at your store.
The younger generation prefers a personalized service where the sales team can offer intimate knowledge of fashion that suits the personality and lifestyle of the consumers.
Action plan: Think of ways on how to consistently put the consumers in the loop from the time they engage with your ad, to browsing your e-commerce platform until they decide to go to the store to buy your products. Invest in online marketing collaterals such as banners and make sure that your social media accounts are active and come with powerful Chinese copywriting to get them to buy the products.
#7 Always consider the 1-2-4 families
Generally, the families in China have a 1-2-4 pattern. With the implementation of the one-child policy, a family consists of one child, two parents, and four grandparents. That child raised from the one-child policy happens to be in the post-80s and 90s where they are treated lavishly by their grandparents. They are also called “little emperors.”
Since they have all the attention, parents and grandparents provide for their needs and shower them with gifts. So, when it comes to your digital marketing strategies, you’re not just thinking of how to sell on the younger generation. Parents and grandparents have the purchasing power. So, consider the vocabulary and words you use when it comes to creating copies and ads.
Some of these little emperors, even if they grow up and work tend to have higher disposable incomes, and they still live with their parents. Knowing that the Chinese culture is family-oriented, they’re also spending on their parents’ leisure and even fashion, accessories, and technology for themselves.
Action plan: Don’t just focus on one market segment. Although the young generation is the drivers of growth and purchasing power, you also need to consider a holistic approach to engagement and brand awareness even to the older generation. They could be your customers, too. They’re willing to lavish their little emperors with gifts. If you’re making promotional videos, you may also want to check our tips on how to select the right the voice-overs talent for your videos.
#8 Connect and Collaborate with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)
As a luxury brand, you can’t rely on your own e-commerce platform and online channels and social media for organic growth. You need the influence of KOLs or Key Opinion Leaders to promote your brand and products to their followers or communities.
Most young Chinese luxury shoppers rely on what KOLs such as celebrities think about a brand or a product. Fashion bloggers with a considerable following and also powerful influence will help you raise awareness and engagement. It’s best to strategize with them based on how their followers interact with them.
You can leverage on the KOLs influence because they can contextualize your luxury products in the day-to-day scenarios. There are also new luxury consumers who would like to know more about luxury brands and products, which most of them will not go directly to your website, but to KOLs who recommend what’s best and what’s not.
Action plan: Don’t do it on your own. Assess who can be the ideal brand ambassadors who will not just drive sales but also experienced in maintaining consistency of your brand’s voice and identity as they work with you and help you grow your fans and followers.
So, where do you start?
Localization involves processes. It also touches the culture and human elements, and not just the language of the audience you’re targeting. For more than a decade in the industry, the team also worked with several small to large scale projects of global brands.
If you’re still thinking about where you should start, you may want to consider the following questions and ponder which of these items are your priorities and otherwise.
- Do you have product catalogs that you want to publish in Chinese? Go for translation and DTP services localize your brochures.
- Does your website lack e-commerce features? Plan and strategies on developing and launching an-e-commerce site that supports local payment gateways like WeChatPay and AliPay
- Do you want to set up an Official WeChat Account to start engaging with your followers? You can talk to a social media specialist who can walk you through the process
- Do you have videos that you want to publish in Chinese video platforms? Start translating them in Mandarin and add subtitles
- Do you have a large volume of content that needs translation? Choose experience fashion translators to handle your projects.
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Maria Krisette Capati
Krisette or "Sette" for short is a professional writer and copywriter who loves to cover disruptive technologies, digital trends in China, and a myriad of geeky and innovative topics. She's the Content Strategist at AZ-Loc and currently manages the English website and in-charge of the social media channels. She has been writing about China markets, business, and startups since 2012. She has gained her expertise as a China internet specialist and is fascinated by its business ethics, language, and culture. She's a major of Business Management and Entrepreneurship and an advocate of faith-based non-profit organizations. When she's not writing or dabbling with Sophie and the team, she satiates her wanderlust as a digital nomad.