Luxury brand marketing for Western SMEs entering the China market

Chinese luxury consumers have immense purchasing power. Newly affluent middle classes with a taste for Western goods have become the dominant force among luxury consumers. Their spending has accounted for 80% of global luxury goods growth since the financial crisis in 2008. They have plenty of disposable income and prefer foreign brands to domestic ones. A recent survey of luxury consumers by the South China Morning Post found that only 5% of shoppers featured a Chinese brand in their top five luxury companies (source: SCMP).

Here are some luxury brand marketing tips to help you gain a foothold in this highly lucrative market.

Build trust

When it comes to luxury goods, fraud is a big problem in China. Globally, fraud is worth $600billion per year, and Chinese shoppers are very wary of it (source: Global Legal Post). It is vital that your luxury brand marketing works to build an element of trust. While just over 50% of online shoppers report feeling more confident about buying online, 78% still want to visit a store in order to see a physical version of the product (source: Enterprise Innovation). Your marketing will therefore have to work hard to ensure you build a trustworthy brand that people feel comfortable buying from.

Create exclusivity with your luxury marketing

Western goods show off a person’s success in China. Just as in the West, certain brands are valued for their exclusivity. If everyone owned them, nobody would want them, and Chinese consumers have the same attitude. We’ve seen in previous posts how Chanel have managed to curate an image of selectness by only opening one boutique in Shanghai, despite the city’s vast population. Other luxury brands have seen their perceived value fall simply because they opened too many stores.

Even if you are planning to target China online shopping, creating luxury brand marketing that suggests exclusivity can serve to attract wealthy consumers who want to stand out from the crowd.

Identify brand ambassadors

There was a time when celebrity endorsement was a marketing tactic that could only be used by the biggest companies. Modern social networks now create a wealth of minor celebrities (many of whom won’t be known at all outside of the online sphere), who are called KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). These people have a strong platform of loyal followers, and therefore make perfect influencers. At Market Me China, we have a KOL network on the top social media platforms WeChat, Weibo to help your product reach a wider audience.

Present the right face of your business

We say this all the time, but being aware of cultural differences is the most important thing to remember. Global companies often fail in China because they didn’t adapt their offering. What Chinese people value can be different to western consumers. Luxury marketing in China isn’t about making your product seem different to what it is, it is about choosing which features and benefits to highlight to the new market.

Get your luxury brand marketing right, and China will reward you greatly.

(Image source: Image created by Stuart Miles |