A traditional Chinese holiday celebrating a tale about a bridge of magpies, the Qixi Festival has blossomed into an all-out Valentine’s Day-style retail extravaganza with expectations of lavish gifts for significant others. Luxury brands are especially excited to cash in on “Chinese Valentine’s Day” as they increasingly use the holiday to experiment with WeChat sales.

According to L2’s Digital IQ Index: Luxury China, WeChat commerce adoption among luxury brands increased modestly between 2016 and 2017, and still remains limited. It rose from 5% in 2016 to 14% among brands in the watches & jewelry category, and increased from 0% to 5% for fashion.

Adoption of channels

For last year’s Qixi Festival, Dior and Bulgari both became early adopters of e-commerce on WeChat, hosting limited-time, special-edition sales on China’s top mobile messaging app. These brands both returned this year with similar promotions: Dior launched a sale of a handbag on August 15 promoted by brand ambassador Angelababy, while Bulgari is selling a special customizable Qixi Festival edition of its Divas’ Dream necklace.

This year, Valentino and Chloé joined in on the WeChat flash sale frenzy for the August 28 holiday. On August 9, Valentino launched a sale of a special-edition Rockstud Spike bag promoted by mega-celebrities including Xu Weizhou and Fan Bingbing, while Chloé teamed up with fashion blogger Mr. Bags to sell 85 units of a special-edition Faye Day bag starting on August 10. Like a similar Mr. Bags promotion in partnership with Givenchy for Valentine’s Day in February, the bags didn’t last long: they were all sold out within an hour.

While flash sales are growing in popularity, some brands have already been operating full-time WeChat boutiques. Cartier, which has one of the most developed WeChat shops out of all Index luxury brands, launched a campaign giving the first 77 customers to order from its WeChat boutique between August 21 and 28 a free private romantic helicopter ride. This campaign is even more extravagant than Cartier’s Valentine’s Day promotion earlier this year, which sent uniformed “Cartier Boys” out to deliver the first 88 orders of a pink gold Love bracelet.

It’s not just WeChat that saw a surge of luxury e-commerce activity for the Qixi Festival. Tmall’s new Luxury Pavilion hosted a flash sale as well by luxury brand Loewe, while Furla launched its Tmall shop in time for the holiday this month and held a Qixi Festival presale of nine bags. Meanwhile, over at JD.com, Chopard opened its JD.com online store in mid-August and offered JD.com-specific, limited-edition pieces for the holiday.

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