What is the most competitive market in the world? Obviously, China. Many brands enter the Chinese market without knowing the bags trends in China and the high competition occurring. Per category, China has the largest number of competitors. So for the luxury bags, brands will face between 5 to 10 times more competitors in China compared to their home market.
If you want to be a leader in your market, you need to stay up to date with the current Chinese trends. Today, we will help you navigate through the trends of the leather goods market in China, and especially luxury bags.
Key Figures on the Luxury Bags Market in China
In China, the success of a bag is a combination of marketing and design. It could be a land of opportunity only if you understand the local codes and consumers’ preferences. As a matter of fact, the average amount spent on a luxury handbag is approximately 3 435€ (27.000 RMB). For the Chinese consumer, the handbag is the key accessory to show off a comfortable purchasing power.
Luxury brands often plan to launch an “it bag”. In China, this phenomenon is hard to anticipate. Especially because the main criteria for purchasing a leather goods product are Design (56%), Brand (47%), and Materials (45%). Chinese consumers are sensitive to design trends, KOLs recommendations, private social groups, user-generated content on Little Red Book and so much more.
If you are interested in fashion, you should not miss the 10 coming trends for bags in 2021.
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Top 10 Bags Trends in China to Follow in 2021
#1 UNISEX BAGS – Chinese are Looking for Fashion Inclusivity
Driven by Millenials and the GenZ, unisex bags is a growing trend. In China, it is very common for trendy couples to hang out in the same outfit. They love to exchange their clothes and accessories. In this case, men feel more sophisticated by using women’s bags and women love men versions for being more effortless and casual.
As you can see, some luxury brands have already followed this trend by launching genderless bags:
- Fendi: Peekaboo
- Dior: Saddle Bag
- Loewe: Puzzle Bag
- Louis Vuitton: Soft Trunk Collection
For a new launch in 2021, you should adopt the unisex bag trend. While reducing production cost, you can increase your brand visibility and notoriety. On social media, the Chinese are looking for original content. Your campaign can focus on a creative way to introduce the bag to both men and women. Why not launching a trend? Little Red Book is very useful for user-generated content based on challenges or trends.
#2 DESIGN – The Most Important Criteria for Purchasing Decision
In the leather goods market, design prevails over the brand. This is a common mistake to think that Chinese consumers are only interested in brands. They are way more educated on each brand DNA, values, and heritage. Even if they like your brand, it is not enough. You need to have a unique, recognizable, and innovative design.
Mr Bags: The Trends Decision Maker in China
In the Louis Vuitton case, the brand is already famous in China. So when they launched the Multi Pochette Accessoires, it was supposed to be an it-bag. Well… Chinese consumers are meticulous. Even if the new launch reached over 8K mentions on Little Red Book, the comments were mainly composed of criticisms because the design was not appealing. Some Chinese consumers even wrote to the brand that models were less attractive wearing the bag… Bad buzz!
If you want to promote your handbags collection, you definitely need to look after your branding and your e-reputation. In China, you need to build strong and positive visibility. You should always remember that Chinese netizens spend 6 hours online per day. They will never buy your product if you do not exist on the internet or if you fail at building a good image. This is where the importance of a Chinese community manager lies in!
#3 NICKNAMES – A Passion for Giving Chinese Names to International Bags
Luxury brands are always promoting their brand heritage by giving their bags French, English, or Italian names. A great decision for the brand image… which gets a strong impact on sales in China. Why? Because the majority of Chinese can encounter difficulties saying an international name. The more complicated your name is, the less Chinese will talk about your brand.
The common trend is to give nicknames to bags based on pop culture, translation, or overall design. The tradition of Chinese nicknames is reinforced by the opportunity to give a story to a bag and add some fun… Especially on Weibo and WeChat, where netizens have a great sense of humor as you can see:
When you enter the Chinese market, you must be aware of those habits. If you understand the key criteria behind these nicknames (easier to say, funny, connected to the bag story, etc) you can better perform. Why not thinking ahead? Now, that you do understand this trend, you can take control of this trend. We can help you doing a brand audit and understanding the names given to your brand… And why not create your own Chinese nickname?
#4 GIMMICKS – Chinese Have an Aversion to Culture Misunderstanding (luxury brands are concerned too!)
Chinese people are proud of their country and their culture. Luxury brands often want to propose China-only collections with personalization or additional elements linked to Chinese culture. Sometimes, a local targeting strategy can turn into a clumsy gimmick… The most tricky one is the Chinese character as Dior experienced it.
Dior Case Study: Chinese Gimmicks on the Customizable Book Tote
In 2018, Dior launched the Book Tote and the Diorcamp handbags with the Chinese characters limited edition. The brand wanted to enable Chinese consumers to have a personalized bag. Well, the message perceived by Chinese luxury consumers was totally different… For them, this bag was old fashioned, cheap, and even compared to a “counterfeiting” product. In this case, even a partnership with the top KOL Angelababy was not enough to increase sales.
Once again, you need to understand the Chinese culture to avoid mistakes. Proposing a limited edition with Chinese characters is well-intended but failed due to the lack of premium image. If you plan to launch a new product in China, you better need to anticipate what could be considered a gimmick. For that, you better be passionate about China!
#5 VINTAGE – The Great Comeback for Fashion Bags in China 2021
This trend is already visible in the West with the comeback of the sportswear brand Champion, for instance. The appetite for vintage is specifically reinforced in the bags market in China. Chinese have the feeling that they opt for a product with a history behind it and can show their great taste by knowing the brand’s previous collections. Who is the expert between the person who bought the trendy new Dior versus the luxury vintage Hermes?
You should always remember to keep an eye on your vintage collections. It is a way for less wealthy Chinese to buy your products, including Millenials and Generation Z. But also you create a brand attachment. People know your brand by heart and feel more confident wearing your former collections.
#6 ART – The Chinese Fashionistas Addiction to Artistic Campaigns
The product universe is everything in a communication campaign. In China, the more your campaign display art elements, the more your product will be reminded. The O2O campaigns are key in China. When Prada launched its new bag Cleo for Spring-Summer 2021, the communication campaign was built around powerful black and white pictures from celebrities, KOCs and random people. The hashtag linked to the campaign reached 80 million views the first day and targeted 260 million followers.
You can use Weibo, WeChat, and Little Red Book to promote your handbag campaign. Social media are a never-ending opportunity for you to propose creative and artistic content. You can invite your community to propose user-generated content on Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book) or interactive content on Douyin (the Chinese Tik Tok). In the meantime, Cartier did exactly the same by launching a campaign “Make your own path” with a dance battle on Douyin.
#7 SECONDHAND – Chinese are Looking for Low Price Treasures
In the West, secondhand is an increasing trend. Fashion brands are more and more sensitive to offering their own secondhand line. Gucci is planning to launch its own secondhand offer and LVMH is considering this idea looking for a logistics partner. In China, the secondhand trend is directed towards fashion, but also bags!
This trend is driven by Millenials. These young Chinese consumers are more environmentally conscious and looking for affordable luxury goods. For example, the Gucci GG Marmont bag was available at a price of 728 USD compared to 2,250 USD. This is the first step into luxury purchases for them. In China, the secondhand market only accounts for 5% of the luxury market. This trend is increasing slightly with the arrival of secondhand luxury platforms like Plum.
As a luxury brand, you should not be afraid of the secondhand market. You can take the lead on it. You have the opportunity to sell your unsold bags and defective articles through the secondhand market. There is an opportunity for additional sales. How? You can make a partnership with Sun Shaqi, the top live streamer for secondhand reaching 6.5 million followers on the Chinese TikTok, Douyin.
#8 LIVESTREAMING – The Excitement around the “See Now Buy Now” Opportunity
Obviously, this trend is not proper to the bags market but the sales generated by live streaming are huge for this segment. KOLs help creating excitement around the release of a new bag by presenting it to its community. In 2017, the top KOL Tao Liang also named Mr. Bags (1.2 million followers on WeChat) promoted the special edition released by Burberry on WeChat. The bag limited edition was sold out in less than 10 minutes.
With an annual growth of 119% in 2020, live streaming is a digital tool you need to master. To be clear, you cannot propose a live stream without being prepared. You need to build a strong strategy with a KOL or KOC partnership, a special deals offering, and user-generated content (UGC) incitation.
#9 KOL – The Virality of Chinese Influencers’ Lifestyle
In China, a celebrity endorsement is highly profitable. But what is the main point Chinese will value? Celebrity dressing. 82% of Chinese people are influenced by the way a KOL is dressed.
Gucci Case Study: The Bag Carried by Zhan Xiao
The importance of celebrity dressing explains well the virality of some bags. For example, Zhan Xiao created the buzz around the Gucci Camera bag during the Milan Fashion Week. This bag was then called “肖战同款”, which literally means “the bag carried by Zhan Xiao to the show”. Many Chinese consumers confessed that even though they do not appreciate the Gucci brand, Zhan Xiao dressing encouraged their purchase.
Did you notice a trend we mentioned earlier? Yes, Chinese nicknames! You can build an impactful marketing strategy by combining KOL and nicknames trends. Chinese consumers will remember your bag better if they saw it on a celebrity they love. Virality can increase brand awareness and attractivity. If you are afraid of doing a partnership with a KOL or celebrity, you should know that only 4% of Mainland China consumers will decrease their purchase intentions based on knowing it is a paid collaboration.
#10 USER CONTENT – The Success of UGC Among Chinese Netizens
In 2021, luxury brands will need to differentiate by proposing both UGC and PGC content. In a word, PGC is the Professional Generated Content, which is the official content created by your brand. Chinese are sensitive to it for the magic and experience encapsulated in it. As a matter of fact, you should remember that Chinese purchases are socially driven. If they only see official content and not user content they will not be attracted by your brand.
If you want your bags brand to be successful in China, you need to prepare a brand audit. Is your brand visible on Weibo? What are the shopping reviews on your bags? The more prepared you are, the more successful you will be. You need to contact a local agency to take care of your e-reputation and monitor the UGC content.
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