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Product Personalisation in China

In a market filled with must-have and special-edition releases, personalisation has helped Chinese consumers focus their shopping efforts.

A preference for personalised services is growing amongst consumers seeking to make a statement. Traditional monogramming, embroidery, hot stamping and other custom designed products are making a comeback. This has become a status symbol amongst China’s millennial consumers, and a source of personal identity that is literally woven into their luxury purchases.

Louis Vuitton's new monogramming service has taken Chinese millennials by storm
Louis Vuitton's new monogramming service has taken Chinese millennials by storm

Making your mark: product personalisation

The growing desire for bespoke products comes from the perceived value of personalisation that has become synonymous with luxury. As a nod toward China’s rich artisan and history of craftsmanship and an expression of individuality, this appeals by making the consumer central to the design process. Affluent Chinese consumers, specifically millennials who seek out brands that connect with their personal interests, are therefore more willing to pay a premium and wait longer to get their hands on their very own products. This is slowly becoming the new reality for luxury brands.

In the words of former Fendi CEO Pietro Beccari, "nowadays, personalisation is the ultimate sign of luxury for our customers." Before, a personalised product would have been a costly and time consuming process, but with wider access to resources and the introduction of ecommerce services, more and more brands are taking steps to introduce these services.

Longchamp's exclusive Le Pliage personalisation services for their Le Pliage Cuir bag
Longchamp's exclusive Le Pliage personalisation services for their Le Pliage Cuir bag

Fendi and Ettinger are some examples of brands choosing to make personalisation more accessible and affordable. For instance, Fendi's new 'Customize It' programme includes a total of over 120 options including colour, strap type, materials, colours, and other details - the only catch being that the product completion process takes around 12 weeks.

Other luxury brands including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Loewe have introduced personalisation features on their WeChat and ecommerce sites. Longchamp also offers a range of personalisation services including four bag sizes from its Le Pliage collection, two strap lengths, fifteen canvas colours and three hardware colours in addition to embroidery or embossing. They also guarantee your custom bag to be ready in six to eight weeks, costing anywhere between $225 to $1090.

Behind the scenes making of Fendi’s Peekaboo bag
Behind the scenes making of Fendi’s Peekaboo bag

The new retail market

Aside from luxury product personalisation, in China, the experience goes beyond monogrammed and stamped bags. Personalised shopping preferences and 'new retail' concepts that seamlessly blend online and offline shopping experience have become the new standards for Chinese consumers expectations.

Alibaba’s new concept supermarket Hema, for instance, utilises purely mobile payments (including live aquariums with QR codes on the fish), and consumers can expect home delivery within 30 minutes of ordering, a dazzling display of O2O marketing. Hema opened 88 new stores last year, and in the next 12 years has plans to open stores in every Chinese city with over 1 million people - of which there are over 200. This is something that brands in the West haven't started to compete with, but is a reality in China.

Where the opportunities lie for brands

Alibaba’s tenacious ecommerce game has fuelled China’s already competitive ecommerce market and elevated consumer expectations. This is an exciting look into the services that are available in China and is a chance for Western brands to stay on top of the game.

Chinese consumers are ultimately looking to be entertained. Localising your services for the Chinese market is a proven way to attract the right consumers. We believe that bolstering your Chinese social media strategy and offering bespoke services are the most effective ways to follow in the footsteps of luxury giants and leverage your China game.

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