Every day, it seems there’s a new dimension of the China Fashion Obsession to analyze. From consumer trends like buyers starting to shy away from overt labels and the middle class spending four figures on designer bags, to the latest innovations like Vero Moda’s new augmented reality app marketed specifically toward Chinese shoppers, China and fashion, as a pair, are constantly under the media microscope. And the brands the Chinese love are loving all the attention. Banking on the country’s still relatively strong economic growth and the people’s continued affinity for luxury, global fashion brands have invested handsomely over the past several years to set up shop in the PRC. Digitally, however–and particularly in terms of social media–fashion brands are falling short, especially compared to their counterparts in other luxury industries. Whether it’s failing to engage with their communities or failing to even join certain platforms, fashion brands are squandering the opportunity to share their content and broadcast their message to tens if not hundreds of millions of people.
In our recently-released China Fashion supplement, we found that 59 percent of the 27 brands assessed have active accounts on at least two Chinese social media platforms. On the low-achieving end of the social spectrum are Chloé, Prada, and Ralph Lauren, all of which have no social media presence in China. The standout is Coach, which dramatically improved its performance from 2012 to 2013, going from one to seven platforms–including mobile’s most-downloaded app WeChat, which L2 founder Scott Galloway refers to as, “China’s first global product.” The study’s top-ranked overall brand, Burberry, is only present on four, having recently removed its page from falling-out-of-favor platform Kaixin.
In the chart above (click for greater detail), you’ll see a vertical by vertical breakdown of fashion brands’ social media adoption of Chinese platforms. On the most popular platforms of Weibo and Youku (China’s YouTube), fashion does fairly well. On the smaller, more emerging platforms, however, the numbers drop fast and sharply, with just 7 percent of brands on Renren and no brands on Tencent Weibo. Granted, the latter is still in beta stage, but the microblogging site already has more users in-country than Twitter does, worldwide–540 million versus 500 million.