In 2017, Western luxury brands embarked on a migration in an eastern direction. To drive revenue, they had to more aggressively tap into the one region that has showed consistent sales growth, while the rest of the world’s luxury purchases have slowed: Asia, and China in particular.
Over the past several months, Gucci and Louis Vuitton opened e-commerce stores to sell directly to customers in China. Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren shared plans with investors to increase their presences through e-commerce and physical stores, and work with influencers in China. The region’s biggest e-commerce marketplaces, Alibaba and JD.com, continued an arms race to win over luxury brands. During a Singles’ Day event for Alibaba’s consumer site, Tmall, luxury brands like Burberry, Tag Heuer and Rimowa promoted special offers for Chinese customers on the shopping holiday. The digitally shy Céline even set up a WeChat account to appeal to Chinese customers on the social app.
Since navigating an intricate consumer market like China can be difficult for individual brands, global luxury marketplaces and online retailers also helped shepherd them into the region. Farfetch, which sells inventory from 800 brands and boutiques, took an investment of $300 million from JD.com and formed a partnership to operate directly in China. L2’s data shows the percentage of fashion brands available through Farfetch in China increased from 76 percent in 2016 to 85 percent this year, while Yoox saw growth from 72 percent to 78 percent and Net-a-Porter increased from 48 percent to 57 percent.