By the end of this month, China is projected to reach 246 million activated smartphones and unseat the U.S. as the most mobile country in the world. For a country starkly divided into those with easy access to luxury goods in brick and mortar shops (i.e., Tier One and Tier Two city dwellers) and those without, mobile serves as a critical platform for global prestige brands that want to get their goods in the hands of affluent Chinese buyers. Some brands do mobile in China well, but many, particularly in the Watches & Jewelry vertical, are inconsistent in their efforts at best.
In the new Watches & Jewelry supplement to our Digital IQ Index: China, 36 percent of the 22 brands’ sites were found to be mobile-optimized. Compared to Beauty brands in China, just 15 percent of which are mobile-optimized according to our supplement on that vertical, this figure indicates the W&J industry is doing a fairly competent job. On the app side, our research shows that 68 percent of W&J brands have iPhone apps on Chinese iTunes (63 percent available in Chinese), but less than half of these are rated. The connection and engagement with consumers just isn’t there. One exception, however, is Tiffany & Co.’s “Engagement Ring Finder” app which is one of just four available in Chinese and user-rated–more than 150 times.
Though this is expected to change once Apple and China Mobile end their standoff and strike a deal, Android currently dominates the Chinese mobile space with a staggering 90 percent share of the smartphone market. This is the case, and yet less than one-third of Watches & Jewelry brands have an Android app. Among those that do, top-ranked brand in the supplement, Chow Tai Fook, is the only one whose app is enabled for e-commerce and enjoys a wide distribution in five Chinese Android stores. Given that this supplement only crowned one Genius (Chow Tai Fook), one Gifted brand (Cartier) and the vast majority landed in the Feeble category, it’s clear that there is much room for the W&J industry to grow, digitally. With all those smartphones and all that buying power, it is in everyone’s best interest for brands to start taking mobile in China more seriously and make the proper investments to fully take advantage of the platform.