Luxury giants score on the web in China

11 August 2011

BEIJING: Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Burberry are some of the luxury brands generating considerable amounts of buzz among Chinese internet users, a study has found.

GroupM Knowledge, a unit of WPP Group, partnered with CIC, the social media monitoring company, to assess which premium goods are stimulating the most electronic word of mouth in the country.

The study revealed online message boards are a very popular "haven" for affluent shoppers in the country, with Louis Vuitton receiving the highest level of WOM here, ahead of Chanel and Gucci.

Looking to microblogs like Sina Weibo and rival platforms run by operators including Tencent and Sohu, Chanel attracted the greatest number of direct mentions, on 593,075 from January to May this year.

But Burberry led the charts in terms of overall engagement on these sites, securing 43,001 retweets and 5,320 comments during the same period.

Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel and Burberry all have official accounts on Sina Weibo, which had an active user base of 60m people in the second quarter of 2011, research firm Analysys International said.

At present, 20% of web users deliver 79.7% of online posts relevant to the luxury sector according to the GroupM/CIC study, suggesting brands could benefit from targeting these influencers.

When conducting detailed analysis into this cohort, the research identified four distinct demographics: "shopaholics", "style gurus", "fashionistas" and "brand fans".

More broadly, over 90% of digital brand-related conversations were described as meeting the definition of "Shai", namely allowing shoppers to "show off" their good taste and purchasing power.

"In China, more luxury consumers tend to show their purchase products, purchase experience and knowledge about luxury products in social media," Lucy Zhang, GroupM Knowledge's futures director, said.

The top three categories of posts by luxury firms using microblogs are product information, news regarding affiliated celebrities and designers, and updates concerning fashion events and sponsorship.

Gucci, Burberry and Louis Vuitton favoured these subjects relatively heavily, whereas a majority of activity from Bottega Veneta and IWC focused solely on spreading product information.

Data sourced from CIC; additional content by Warc staff