The Chinese market is a huge cake for watch brands. With the growing economy, the Chinese watch market is getting bigger and stronger. In the meantime, several structural changes are occurring in 2022 that will affect the market until 2030. To expand your watch brand in China, you need to really know this market well because this is really a special one, different from any other market. If you are a CEO, a Marketing Director or an International Sales Director, this article is made for you.
- 1 Key Information About the Watch Market in China
- 2 Top Latest Trends in the Chinese Watch Market
- 3 How to Promote your Watch Brand in China?
- 3.1 1. Focus on the “Made-in”, the Top Symbol of Quality in China
- 3.2 2. “Exposure, Exposure, and More Exposure” is the Key to Sell Watches in China
- 3.3 3. Baidu SEO, The First Thing Testing your Brand Reputation
- 3.4 4. Local Forums Can Make Chinese Customers Know you Better
- 3.5 5. Xiaohongshu, the Playground of Fashion Lovers
- 3.6 6. KOL Campaign: Expose your Brand through Their Community and TA
- 3.7 7. E-commerce: You Won’t Want to Miss 64.9% of the Chinese Market
- 3.8 8. Tmall Luxury Pavilion and Tmall Global are Top Sales Channels for Watches
- 4 GMA: Your Marketing Agency to Win the Chinese Market
- 5 Selected Collection of GMA’s Case Study
Key Information About the Watch Market in China
The Volume of the Chinese Watch Market
According to the data of Statista, China is currently the most significant watch market, with a yearly revenue of 15,770 million USD in 2022. Compared to the worldwide watch industry, China has taken 23.86% of the global market share. For your intuitive cognition, this market equals 1.42x of the US market, 7.43x of the UK market, and 8.18x of the French market. It’s hard to find a reason not to enter the Chinese market if your brand does not want to miss 1/4 of the global market.
Chinese Customers are Buying Watches with O2O (Online to Offline)
Watch is very commonly sold in the offline boutique. But this is completely a wrong strategy in China because most watch sales are obtained via online distribution channels. China is known for its advanced e-commerce and digital tools. This made 43.4% of the watch sales done on e-commerce in 2017, more than double the worldwide ratio at 20%. With the continuing development of the Chinese e-commerce industry and the influence of Covid, the ratio has reached 64.9% in 2022. For any watch brand that doesn’t want to lose the Chinese market, e-commerce is a key battlefield that you must conquer.
The Watch Market in China is Divided between Luxury Brands and Fashion Brands
To make a proper branding and marketing strategy, you need to understand the positioning of your brand. If you see watches under 100 EUR, they are considered as accessories and “fashion” watches. Hence, we are going to challenge your general knowledge. Benefiting from the massive manufacturing power of China, there are a bunch of extremely cheap watches in China, especially quartz watches. All the majority of fashion watches are produced in China and sometimes sold at… 1€.
Can you imagine buying a watch for 1 euro? That’s possible in China! This quartz watch in the photo costs only 7 CNY, even less than 1 euro. This kind of cheap watch has a huge market share in China with the super low price and quite a good function. So when you locate your brand in the Chinese market, always remember that your 100 euro watch is no longer the cheapest group of watches in the market, so your strategy needs to be changed as well.
Watches Brands: Who are Your Customers in China?
Understanding the market is important, and so does understanding your customers. Knowing who are you targeting can help your marketing strategy be more efficient in China. According to a recent report by iiMedia Research, 74.4% of watch consumers are aged 22-40 in 2021.
The report also shows that:
- 59.4% of them are married
- 82,5% of them are from first-tier cities
- 58.1% of them have an income of 5,001-15,001 CNY/Month
- 48% of them are employees and managers
The overall image of the majority of Chinese watch customers can be seen as the young generation to the middle-aged generation living in advanced cities with a stable income.
Top Latest Trends in the Chinese Watch Market
Watch & Wonder Exhibition is Putting Emphasis on China
Watch & Wonder is a top watch exhibition at the global level. In recent years, they seem to have a special attitude toward the Chinese market. Watch & Wonder launched their fair in Shanghai in 2020 in the form of an online exhibition. Their promotion on Weibo with the hashtag #OpenTheDoorOfWonders attracted millions of Chinese audiences. The online exhibition also launched a live-streaming channel on Tmall Luxury Pavilion, which enabled more Chinese watch lovers to interact with their exhibition easier.
Watch & Wonder didn’t stop at Shanghai but moved on to Hainan as well. They are launching their exhibition for 2022 in Hainan, the emerging center for luxury consumption. This fair will last 3 months from 02 December 2022 to 28 February 2023, starting a new wave in the Chinese watch market.
The Increasing Usage of Smart Watches among Chinese Consumers
Smartwatch has been a hot topic in recent years, redefining the function of a watch with new tech. Texting, making phone calls, locating someone, GPS guide, emergency notice, health feature monitoring, sports recording, and any function you need on a mobile device are now available on smartwatches.
China is the market affected by this trend the most. A recent report in 2022 shows that 40% of Chinese people have the habit of wearing a smartwatch compared to 36% in the UK, 30% in Germany, 29% in the United States, and 22% in Brazil. This is a symbol that the Chinese market is opening to any brand that is trying to make its own definition of a watch in the 2020s.
Furthermore, luxury brands are also trying to get attached to the smartwatch industry. Hermes has launched their cooperation with Apple on the Apple watch. Hermes now offers a variety of exclusive Hermès sport straps, which you can buy at both Hermes and Apple. Although smartwatches are still sometimes seen as electric devices more than luxury watches, we can see the top luxury brands are exploring this new direction.
Different Groups of Chinese Customers Have Different Expectations on their Watch
Depending on the demand of different customer groups, different expectations of watches exist among Chinese customers:
- Among male consumers, ownership of business watches was highest (69%), followed by casual fashionable watches (69%) and smartwatches (55%).
- Among female consumers, ownership of casual fashionable watches was highest (83%), followed by smartwatches (55%) and business watches (51%).
Also, when the function and quality of watches have reached a similar level, Chinese customers are now putting more emphasis on the style and design instead of the brand.
Chinese People Prefer High-Quality Watches including Automatic Watches
Chinese people see watches as 2 different sectors by their quality and value. Watches with lower quality are seen as a tool to see the time which is not valuable, just like the 1 Euro quartz watch. But high-quality watches are seen as an asset that you can collect, invest and show your identity.
Swiss watch is one of their most valued watch categories, with a fixed image of high quality. This gives Swiss watch brands huge leverage in their branding in China. To make sure your brand can enter the Chinese market positively, you need to emphasize the 3 key criteria of Chinese consumers: design, price, and quality. Among their product preferences, we suggest focusing on your automatic watches. The men consumers are actively looking for purchasing them.
How to Promote your Watch Brand in China?
1. Focus on the “Made-in”, the Top Symbol of Quality in China
“Where is this watch made?” is a very common question from Chinese customers. As a precise mechanical system, the manufacturing process level is very important for luxury watches in China. The Made-in-Swiss label is a very important asset, especially for watches. Other fixed images for place of production also exist:
- Made in Germany for the preciseness
- Made in Italy for the handmade craftsmanship
- Made in France for the creative design
These places of production all have a plus on your brand identity, you should take full advantage of them for your better brand image.
2. “Exposure, Exposure, and More Exposure” is the Key to Sell Watches in China
If your brand does not have fame in the Chinese market, then it will be hard to sell at an ideal price. Most Chinese customers tend to check the information online before buying an expensive product. This makes it harder for new brands to make sales when they are just entering China. In the lack of customer experience, your exposure becomes the only key to your quick start-up.
In this case, any possible exposure can be helpful to your brand. Building up a 360° marketing and branding strategy is very important. Your brand should be on proper social media and fairs that fit with your identity. Collaboration with celebrities can also be a powerful move, but it’s also risky because your brand can also be affected by the celebrity of your choice.
3. Baidu SEO, The First Thing Testing your Brand Reputation
When customers want to check your brand on the search engine, popping up at the first rank can always make them feel convinced. This made SEO a key digital marketing tool in your branding strategy. If you are still using Google SEO, then you might miss this booster in China since Google is blocked. It’s time to take action on Baidu SEO, the No.1 search engine in China. Investing in Baidu SEO can help you always be the first on the search engine and boost your e-reputation in China.
4. Local Forums Can Make Chinese Customers Know you Better
Showing your website on the search engine is not good enough, customers need some more information from the third party to make a purchase decision. QA campaign is the tool you can use for more positive feedback. The platforms you can use include Zhihu and Baidu Zhidao, the 2 biggest QA platforms in China.
5. Xiaohongshu, the Playground of Fashion Lovers
If you need to find a social media to build up your brand reputation among a bunch of fashion lovers, Xiaohongshu become the best choice. This is a social media with a majority of female users and fashion lovers, leading the fashion trend among Chinese customers. On Xiaohongshu, you can post photos, articles, and videos about your brand and product. The live-streaming function is also available, which enables you to interact with your potential customers and gain trust by showing your products during the live-streaming.
Xiaohongshu can also be one of your online sales points. By opening your e-shop on Little Red Book, your customers will be able to place orders directly on the app. The link to your product can be inserted in your posts, videos, and even during Live-streaming.
6. KOL Campaign: Expose your Brand through Their Community and TA
Cooperation with KOLs can be a good choice for new starters in China. These KOLs with on social media usually have a huge follower base, which means they have a huge influence in their field. Carefully selecting the KOL you work with to target the right audience can help make the best effect. A promotion with several KOLs can create a discussion on your brand, which is very useful for a brand to gain visibility. Because in the 2020s, no discussion means no visibility.
7. E-commerce: You Won’t Want to Miss 64.9% of the Chinese Market
When you see the majority of watch sales are done on e-commerce, you won’t want to miss it. There are 2 kinds of e-commerce in China: Social media e-commerce and Traditional e-commerce.
Social media e-commerce is the e-shop on social media platforms including Xiaohongshu, Douyin, and WeChat. These platforms enable you to sell products while interacting with your post content or even live stream. The advantage is that your sales can be directly boosted by your performance on that social media, but you need to select carefully the platform to launch.
Traditional e-commerce is mainly Taobao, Tmall, and JD. These are the e-commerce platforms for e-commerce only, but also allowing brands to do live-stream now. The good thing to launch a flagship store on these platforms is that your customers can find your official store easily. This also prevents you from counterfeit issues.
8. Tmall Luxury Pavilion and Tmall Global are Top Sales Channels for Watches
Here I need to introduce you to the Tmall Luxury Pavilion, which can also raise your brand image and stand out from other watch sellers on Tmall. Your store will be displayed in the luxury sector in the watch category only because Tmall is only allowing brands to choose one single category for their store. Depending on your legal licenses and brand origin, you can also choose to open your store on Tmall Global, which can make your sales easier as well as show your brand origin.
GMA: Your Marketing Agency to Win the Chinese Market
GMA is a digital marketing agency based in Shanghai, the commercial center of China. We have worked with hundreds of brands in different categories to win the Chinese market. With more than 10 years of experience and 70+ experts in branding and marketing, we assure you of the highest quality of service in GMA. Contact us now and be the next to succeed in China!
How Can GMA Support your Brand
GMA offers 360°service to our clients. Starting with the consultant, we will check all your brand and market information and make you a complete strategy of promotion based on market research. We will also handle everything you need on marketing, e-commerce, and even daily operation of sales.No matter what problem you meet in China, GMA will always be by your side.
Grow your Business With the Best ROI
We always wish our clients to grow with the best ROI, which we focus on. Your brand does not need to make every effort in the Chinese market, but the right effort. GMA will discuss with you to find out the best solution and help you reach the best ROI with our service.
Welcoming our new Division of Luxury, GMA is now stepping into a new era. Under the management of Anaïs Bournonville, an experienced former LVMH talent, the Luxury Division of GMA can now offer you more professional support with our expert team. Contact her for a first consulting talk and take every second to win the Chinese market in the 2020s.
Selected Collection of GMA’s Case Study
WEWOOD is a premium brand of natural wooden watches created from reclaimed and recycled wood and material. The commitment of the brand is to create an eco-friendly and fashionable line of watches. WeWood consolidates the Italian abilities to craft unique items and the necessity to care for our environment with the motto “You buy a watch; we plant a tree”. In China, the brand wanted to expand thanks to a trusted partner.
- +10K Views Monthly
- +25K Followers
- +100 Media Coverage
JACQUES LEMANS is a fashionable watch brand rising in Europe in the 20th century. Born in Austria, the watches produced by Jacques Lemans have been sold to more than 110 countries around the world and on about 200 international routes. In order not to repeat the previous experience of failure in China, Jacques Lemans cooperated with GMA for complete marketing and sales operations in China.
- +22K Followers on Weibo
- +3M Monthly Exposure
- +250K RMB Monthly Sales
LUDOVIC BALLOUARD’s greatest dream had always been to create his own watches as he had a head filled with ideas for different complications. Even though the financial crisis was in full force around the globe, Ludovic decided to follow his dream. This journey started in 2009. With collectors waiting impatiently and suppliers eager to work, he created his first timepiece, the Upside Down, born in December 2009.
- Ongoing Campaign