The fashion landscape in China has experienced consistent growth, driven by a rising number of individuals who possess greater financial means and a heightened fascination with clothing as a means of expressing style, rather than solely meeting practical needs.
Presently, the fashion sector stands as one of China’s most profitable industries, having amassed a staggering $266 billion in 2022. To effectively captivate the attention of Chinese consumers, it is imperative to comprehend and engage with the Chinese market.
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This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the Chinese fashion market, accompanied by valuable insights and recommendations to enable the optimal promotion of your fashion brand in China.
Overview of the Fashion Market in China
International Brands Have Advantages in the Chinese Fashion World
International companies are often focused on establishing their business quickly and trying to build profit, then they forget to build a good reputation around their brand. It is very important to understand that Chinese people will only do business with you if you have established a reliable and trustworthy brand. China is becoming more and more digitalized than its counterparts.
In fact, when you live in China, you will barely use cash or cards, a mobile phone is a substitute for your card (paying through my WeChat wallet or Alipay). So, if you plan to sell fashion brands to China, you should prepare yourself to go digital, and online platforms are the place to be.
China Apparel & Luxury Market Trends
Jewelry brands in China have already picked up the pace with genderless fashion trends, and clothing brands as closing the gap quickly.
Guochao is a Chinese term that refers to the nationalistic trend in fashion, which includes a preference for traditional Chinese clothing styles and designs. This trend has been growing in popularity in recent years, as more people are looking to promote and celebrate Chinese culture.
Guochao fashion often includes traditional elements such as hanfu (the traditional clothing of the Han Chinese people) and qipao (a type of body-hugging dress traditionally worn by Chinese women). In addition to traditional clothes, the Guochao style can also include modern twists on classic designs, as well as new designs that incorporate traditional Chinese motifs.
Guochao fashion is usually seen as a way to express pride in China and its culture. Many Chinese designers and domestic brands have already jumped on the wagon, showcasing their projects on Shanghai Fashion Week which helped them gain worldwide recognition.
China is a Luxury Goods Market
China is the number one market for personal luxury fashion sales and is experiencing rapid growth. Although counterfeit luxury products are still a plague for big names in the country, Chinese people are looking for authentic luxury goods and clothing.
Fashion and technology collaborate with innovations like smart fabrics and wearables, enhancing the fashion experience. AI integration in fashion companies, despite cultural hesitancy, offers significant benefits.
Customization and immersive experiences engage consumers, while smart fabrics revolutionize women’s clothing in China, like sportswear with technologies in it too. Virtual try-on features enable personalized interactions online, meeting the growing demand for enhanced customer experiences in fashion.
The Chinese consumer market is witnessing a growing emphasis on sustainability and ethical consumption, with a notable surge in eco-friendly practices and circular fashion models. This shift towards sustainability not only enhances brand credibility but also positions companies at the forefront of one of the prominent trends shaping the fashion industry in China, as highlighted in a recent report by Roland Berger.
A compelling example of this fashion trend is the fact that 55% of Chinese consumers opt for sustainable brands due to their superior quality. This showcases a significant demand among consumers for high-quality, eco-friendly products that make a positive contribution to environmental conservation.
Best Ways to Promote a Fashion Brand in China
There are many ways for foreign brands to promote their products in China, including e-commerce platforms, social media platforms, Baidu, public relations, and more. Let’s take a look at the best practices.
Brand Presence on Local e-Commerce Platforms
While many global fashion brands have a physical storefront, e-commerce provides access to a larger market. By selling online, fashion brands in China can reach buyers around the world. Additionally, e-commerce offers a convenient way for Chinese consumers to purchase items 24/7.
Customers can also compare prices and style options easily online before making a purchase. Overall, eCommerce provides many advantages for both businesses and consumers in the fashion industry.
Which Online e-Commerce Platform is the Most Profitable?
There is no definitive answer, as each brand will have its own preferences and priorities. However, we can take a look at some of the most popular Chinese e-commerce platforms and see how they compare
Tmall and JD.com are the best-known e-commerce platforms that enjoy the most consumer confidence thanks to their strict requirement for both foreign and domestic brands.
Tmall is geared towards higher-end brands. It offers better protection for brands and charges higher commission rates, but it also has a larger customer base. It has a cross-border option.
JD is also great for brands operating in the clothing category. Just like Tmall, it puts consumer values and interest above all, resulting in trust and more sales.
Taobao is one of the most popular platforms in China and it is known for its low prices. While this may be attractive to budget-conscious shoppers, it can be less profitable for brands. However, it is a lot cheaper than Tmall.
How to Sell Your Fashion Brand on Tmall and Tmall Global?
If you plan to sell on Tmall Global, you need to understand how to set up a store and the costs involved, you need to fulfill different requirements depending on which store type you choose.
Below we’ve listed the types of stores you can choose and the requirements:
- You are the owner of the brand or have been granted permission from the brand owner to sell on Tmall Global
- Your store sells and represents a single brand
- Your store sells and represents several brands (need separate approval from Tmall)
- Your store sells and represents a multi-brand marketplace ( need separate approval from Tmall)
Businesses should be registered outside of China with trademarks in China. The company must be qualified for retail overseas and have good operating conditions. They must also be able to certify that their stock is located outside of China.
Creating a Chinese Website: Key to Success in the Chinese Fashion Market
Creating your own website is a better way to establish a brand while selling your products. This is a great benefit for those looking to establish and sell long-term clothing because it builds brand awareness.
Having a Chinese landing page with hosting in China is an interesting and innovative opportunity created for anyone who wants visibility and success in the Chinese market. You have to host your website in China, this can guarantee you to be known by the Chinese consumers.
Steps for Building an E-commerce Store:
- Pick a domain name
- Choose a store builder
- Design your digital shop
- Add the necessary functionality (payment, shipping, etc)
Foreign companies that have opened successful online stores online have two common characteristics: They know the Chinese market and have a deep knowledge of digital technology. You need to promote our brand on Chinese E-commerce platforms and invest in marketing and communication.
Reaching Chinese Shoppers in the Fashion Market: Utilizing Baidu SEO
While Google is the dominant search engine in most counties, it’s not the same in the Chinese market where only 2.3% of all searches in China happen on the Western search giant.
To be truly successful in Baidu SEO, you will need a deep understanding of how to optimize for the search giant. However, optimizing for Baidu uses the same approach used for Google. Baidu SEO comes with its own unique challenging environment, cultural differences, and technical considerations.
The goal of on-page optimization is to make it easier for search engines to understand what each page on the site is about, which will help rank the page for relevant content.
To get the best SEO results on Baidu, you will have to host your website within Mainland China (Hong Kong or Macau). There are two main reasons for this approach. The first is that hosting in Mainland China is a strong signal that the site is targeting the local Chinese market. The second is due to the Great Firewall. In fact, many sites outside of Mainland China, load much more slowly than domestic sites, and may not always be reachable.
Unfortunately, because of the multiple local laws, hosting a website in China is much more complicated than in other countries.
Amplify Your Fashion and Luxury Brand on Chinese Social Media
Remember there is no Facebook, no Twitter, and no YouTube in China. International brands have to understand that Chinese social networks are completely different from those of many Western markets.
Here are some common social media goals to consider:
- Increase brand awareness: in order to create brand awareness, avoid a slew of promotional messages, and focus on meaningful content and a strong brand personality through your social channels.
- Higher quality of sales: Digging through your social channels is nearly impossible without monitoring or listening to specific keywords, phrases, or hashtags. Through more efficient media targeting, you reach your core audience much faster.
- Improve your ROI: there’s not a brand on social media that doesn’t want to increase its return on investment. It’s important to perform a thorough audit of your channels and ensure the cost of advertisements, and design stays on track.
- Create a loyal fan base: does your brand promote user-generated content? getting to this point takes time and effort with creating a positive brand persona on social.
Digital Marketing Through WeChat
Wechat is the app you need to be on. It has many online marketing tools you can use to promote your brand in China, that you’ll be given access to once you have an official account:
- Wechat Mini-programs
- Wechat Posts
- WeChat wallet
- Paid advertising
- Wechat channel and so on
Have Chinese Consumers see you with Weibo Marketing
Weibo is the second most popular Chinese social media, it helps businesses target users according to detailed parameters. The difference between WeChat and Weibo is that WeChat is a private social network, while Weibo is a public source of information.
In general, Chinese consumers rely on recommendations from friends, family, and influencers within the social network when purchasing. Therefore, influencer marketing is big on Weibo.
Xiaohongshu: the Chinese Instagram
Xiaohongshu, or Little Red Book, has emerged as a popular platform in recent years, often likened to Instagram in terms of content and audience. Primarily centered around user-generated content, particularly from young women, it serves as a hub for sharing product reviews and tips.
For fashion and beauty brands, Xiaohongshu offers an excellent opportunity to establish a brand presence, foster a positive reputation, and leverage word-of-mouth marketing. It is also the go-to platform for influencer marketing, where influencers hold significant sway, enabling potential rapid brand recognition in a matter of days if fortunate.
Utilize Douyin: Harness the Power of Short Videos
Douyin, the app renowned for its vast collection of short videos spanning diverse topics, provides an excellent avenue for Chinese individuals to unwind and alleviate stress. Short videos are an ideal medium for this purpose, accessible anytime and anywhere. Furthermore, Douyin presents an intriguing opportunity by introducing the option to open a store, enabling influencers to directly lead potential customers to your online store.
Effective Brand Management in the Chinese Fashion Market
There are a few reasons why fashion brands in China need online reputation management. First, Chinese consumers are increasingly influenced by online reviews when making purchasing decisions.
In a recent study, nearly 90% of Chinese respondents said they read online reviews before making a purchase. This number is even higher for luxury goods, with 97% of respondents saying they read reviews before buying luxury items.
Second, negative online reviews can have a significant impact on businesses in China. A recent study found that a one-star decrease in a business’s rating on the review site Dianping can lead to a 9.5% decrease in sales. Given the high level of influence that online reviews have on Chinese consumers, it’s important for businesses to have full control over their online image.
Conquer the Chinese Apparel Market with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)
The power that Chinese fashion influencers have over millennial consumers’ purchasing habits has been shifting from traditional public media to individual brand ambassadors. These ambassadors are defined as key opinion leaders (KOLs) or influencers.
They have a huge influence on Chinese purchase demands and can be recruited on behalf of a brand for promotional purposes. 72% of brands in China indicated that they would continue to focus on social media marketing.
Mastering the Art of Public Relations: Winning Over Chinese Consumers
Earning positive media exposure is instrumental to building your visibility and increasing your credibility. Getting content placed in top-tier or niche publications is a powerful way to get in front of a wider audience and open more doors for your business. The same is true of press mentions and quotes.
Publishing sophisticated articles is one of the best ways to boost credibility and position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. In China is important to communicate through posts and issues, because people always look for stories and new information.
Your company should be ranked at the top of Baidu. If what comes up is negative or irrelevant, it is like putting leads in a leaky bucket. No med off by what they find. On the other hand, an impressive online presence will help to reinforce and expand upon the positive experiences you have offline with stakeholders.
Paid Advertisements for Fashion Brands
To reach specific consumer brackets, paid advertising is probably one of the most time-efficient methods. Pretty much every Chinese online channel offers paid advertising to brands and companies. If not every marketing strategies need to incorporate paid ads, it certainly can help you boost your visibility and support your other channels in the biggest fashion market in the world.
Collaborate with Us for a Bright Future in China’s Fashion Industry
China’s growing middle class and increasing interest in luxury goods present a tremendous opportunity for your brand. With our support, you can tap into this thriving market and establish a strong foothold.
While expanding into a new market brings challenges, we are here to mitigate risks and help you overcome obstacles. Our deep understanding of the Chinese market and our tailored strategies will guide you toward success.
At GMA, we understand the opportunities and challenges that come with establishing your brand in the vibrant Chinese fashion market. Our team is here to support you every step of the way, ensuring a seamless entry and successful establishment of your brand in China.
We offer comprehensive solutions to help you navigate the intricacies of the Chinese market. Our expertise spans various areas, including:
- Social media: We can create and implement effective social media strategies tailored to the Chinese audience, leveraging platforms like WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin to maximize your brand’s visibility and engagement.
- Homepage: We can develop a captivating and user-friendly Chinese-language website that showcases your brand’s story, products, and values, providing a seamless digital experience for Chinese consumers.
- Baidu: As the leading search engine in China, we can optimize your brand’s presence on Baidu, ensuring higher visibility and driving targeted traffic to your website or e-commerce platforms.
- E-commerce: Leveraging our expertise in Chinese e-commerce platforms like Tmall and JD.com, we can help you establish a strong online presence, optimize product listings, and implement effective marketing strategies to drive sales and expand your customer base.
- PR (Public Relations): Our PR team can help you craft compelling brand narratives, secure media coverage, and build valuable relationships with key influencers and industry partners in the Chinese fashion market.
Partner with us at GMA and embark on an exciting journey to captivate the hearts of Chinese consumers, elevate your brand’s presence, and achieve remarkable growth in the Chinese fashion industry. Contact us today!