Luxury goods under the pandemic: online sales are booming, and brands are keen on increasing prices


“4月底,寺库在不到10天内,就卖出两个爱马仕的喜马拉雅款,每款单价都高于60万,最高一笔为65万,用户从直播间询问到购买不足10分钟。” 全球奢侈品购物服务平台寺库向第一财经介绍的这个例子,正是疫情之后奢侈品电商平台逆生长的一个缩影。

“Towards the end of April, SECOO sold two Hermes Himalayan bags in less than 10 days. Each item sold exceeded RMB 600,000, with the most expensive purchase made for RMB 650,000. It took less than 10 minutes from making an enquiry to the final purchases during the livestreaming session.” This example was introduced to YICAI by SECOO, a global luxury shopping service platform, epitomizes the post-pandemic reverse growth taking place in luxury e-commerce platforms.



Online sales have improved significantly


贝恩公司联合意大利奢侈品行业协会Fondazione Altagamma发布的《2020年全球奢侈品行业研究报告春季版》指出,中国正成为引领疫后经济复苏的先锋:预计至2025年,中国消费者对全球奢侈品消费总额的贡献率将达到约50%,成为全球奢侈品行业反弹增长的关键引擎。此外,线上渠道份额将进一步提升,至2025年,该渠道的占比有望上升至30%。

Bain, together with Fondazione Altagamma, the Italian luxury goods industry association have released their “2020 Global Luxury Industry Research Report Spring Edition”. The report highlights how China is leading the economic recovery after the pandemic. It is expected that by 2025, Chinese consumers’ will contribute towards 50% of the world’s total luxury consumption, becoming the key engine in the rebound growth of the luxury industry. In addition, the share of online channels will further increase, with expectations for it to rise to 30% by 2025.



“After the outbreak, online sales of SECOO have increased.” Since the outbreak, there has been a significant increase in the acquisition of live data by SECOO, as reported to YICAI. This has been attributed to the shortening of the distance between brand and consumers. Due to the limitations in the offline shopping experience, there is an opportunity to reshape consumers’ purchasing habits of luxury online.


SECOO also revealed that there are active users throughout the 24 hours in a day, with the average spend per customer having increased significantly due to the pandemic. An example of this would be the significant increase in the number of SECOO users that brought Hermes, purchasing items that range from RMB 100,000 – 300,000. These users who purchase scarce Hermes products are clearly quite, astute and ruthlessly decisive in their purchase decisions.



How are online channels seizing opportunities?


贝恩公司的报告指出,即便受到仓库关闭等影响,但总体而言,个人奢侈品的线上销售预计在未来几周或几个月仍将保持正增长。RTG Consulting Group创始人兼首席执行官Angelito Tan告诉第一财经,在过去,数字化可能并不是奢侈品牌的首要任务。但如今,疫情凸显了数字化作为未来战略的必要性。虽然这不一定会成为主流,但过去的几个月市场表现证明,奢侈品牌愿意更多地尝试线上渠道营销,未来,线上销售的比重将会加大。

Despite recent warehouse closures and other disruptions, overall online sales of personal luxury goods are expected to remain positive in the coming weeks and months ahead, according to the report by Bain. Angelito Tan, a Founding Partner and Chief Executive Officer of RTG Consulting Group, told YICAI that whereas digitalization of luxury brands may not have been a number one priority in the past, the pandemic has highlighted the need for digitalization as a strategy for the future. Although it will not become the mainstream, the past few months have shown that luxury brands are willing to experiment more with digital and it has become a proof-point for them to accelerate the digitalization of their brands.

Founding Partner and CEO of RTG Consulting Group

RTG Consulting Group创始人兼首席执行官

Angelito Tan

 Farfetch大中华区总经理Judy Liu指出,从线下到线上的转换,消费者将会更适应奢侈品的线上消费场景。从境外到境内的转换,拿中国大陆举例,随着关税的降低和品牌的调价,以及消费者对服务的重视,更多在欧美等国家的旅行购物将会转移到大陆本土市场。

Judy Liu, Farfetch’s general manager in greater China, pointed out that with the transition from offline to online, consumers will become more at ease with the consumption of luxury goods online. For example, with the reduction of tariffs and price adjustment by brands, as well as consumers’ attention to services, those who travel and shop in Europe and the United States will transfer back to the mainland market.


而针对如何增强奢侈品网上购物的影响力,Judy Liu认为,网上零售商需要做到的,首先是本地化的客户体验,围绕当地客户的属性并抓住他们的独特性,建立起超预期的客户服务;第二是技术和数据的应用能力,需要投入做好技术产品建设,建立好数据的积累,最重要的是应用起这些数据的能力;第三点是本地化的内容和品牌影响力,奢侈品行业特性让我们无法忽略内容和品牌在其中的作用,如何建立起平台的品牌影响力,将是Farfetch为不断进阶的使命。

In terms of how to enhance the influence of luxury brands e-commerce, Judy Liu believes that what online retailers need to do is first localize their customers experience, focus on the attributes of local customers and seize their uniqueness to build next-level services. The second is the ability to apply technology and data, to invest in the necessary technology to capture and utilize data effectively. The third point is to localize content and brand influence. The characteristics of the luxury industry make it impossible for us to ignore the role of content and brand within it. How to build the brands influence on the platform remains as a core mission of Farfetch.



Raising Prices, Raising Prices!



However, major luxury brands themselves are not as prosperous when compared with e-commerce.



Bain’s report shows a 25 percent drop in sales for global personal luxury market within the first quarter of 2020, with an accelerated shrinkage expected for the second quarter, and the overall market expected to shrink by 20 to 35 percent for the full year – depending on the pace of the post- pandemic recovery. Considering that LVMH’s revenue fell by 15% in the first quarter and year-on-year to 10.6 billion euros, the pressure on luxury brands to raise prices will not only guarantee the brand value, but also recover some of its sales-performance under these special circumstances.



On May 13, the French luxury brand Chanel officially stated it would raise prices for its handbags and selected small leather goods due to the rising cost of raw materials in the coronavirus pandemic. At present, Chanel classic collections prices have risen across the board by up to 25%. Louis Vuitton is also amongst this group, having risen the price of its Chinese counter for the second time on May 5, making it the third price hike in less than six months – the first being in March and the second in September.


对于头部奢侈品牌集中涨价的行为,Angelito Tan对第一财经分析道:“我们都知道,中国的奢侈品消费每年都在快速增长。各大奢侈品牌也已经在逐年提高产品价格。排除疫情的影响,从品牌整体战略来看,提价能够加强产品的排他性,以保证奢侈品牌的高端地位。尽管疫情可能暂时影响了销售,但各个奢侈品牌还是想尽快恢复正常业务。”

For the behavior of luxury brands to raise their price collectively, Angelito Tan had this to say: “As we are well aware, the Chinese luxury consumer grows at a rapid pace annually. Leading brands have in the past increased the prices of their products year on year already. As part of a broader strategy, and independent from the pandemic, price increases reassure the status of luxury brands by reinforcing exclusivity of their products. Although the pandemic may have temporarily stunted sales, brands are trying to quickly get back to business as usual. “


而在这一波疫情中,奢侈品品牌的业绩也出现了更加明显的两极分化,Angelito Tan指出,总体而言,越善于与中国新一代消费者建立联系的品牌,成长速度更快。

Amid the pandemic, the performance of luxury brands has become more polarized, with Angelito Tan pointing out that, broadly speaking, brands adept at connecting with the new generation of Chinese consumer were already growing at a faster pace compared to their rivals.



“With the pandemic, what we see is an acceleration and magnification of the gap between brands that excelled and brands that stagnated. On top of this, because these more successful brands were already connecting with the rising consumer that they understood best, these brands were better at keeping the communications even during the crisis.” He told YICAI.


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