BEIJING: Luxury brands such as Cartier, Dior and Louis Vuitton are making increasing use of online video to engage Chinese consumers.

Cartier, the French premium goods manufacturer, has recently launched a channel on Youku, one of China's leading internet video properties, to promote its high-end jewellery and watches.

It joins a rapidly-expanding list of companies seeking to utilise this platform as a tool to reach the fast-growing web population in China, standing at 457m people by the end of last year.

Since February 2011, seven major brands from the sector have followed such a path, including Louis Vuitton, which first ran ads in Youku content during 2009, and has now extended this partnership.

Dior, Gucci, Omega and Mido are also part of this group, as is Burberry, which streamed its Milan fashion show live via Youku earlier this year, and has secured over 1m hits on its channel as a consequence.

Guerlain, the beauty firm, and Longines, a Swiss operator specialising in timepieces, have similarly unveiled exclusive pages for their products.

Elsewhere, Chanel, the apparel-to-cosmetics firm, and Fendi, the Italian fashion house, are running ads in Youku material at present.

Frank Ming Wei, a senior vice president at Youku, argued the site's young, affluent and urban audience was a key point of attraction for marketers.

Moreover, the web's penetration into smaller cities across China could specifically help luxury firms, which frequently see their retail networks limited to first-tier cities like Shanghai and Beijing.

"Luxury brands are highly selective in terms of the platforms they advertise on and their choice of Youku speaks to the perception of Youku as a premium platform," he said.

"Our nationwide reach is helping these brands make inroads into second- and third-tier cities where they had previously not had strong footholds."

According to insights provider iResearch, Youku currently has over 231m unique visitors from homes and offices, and 52 million from internet cafes.

Data sourced from Youku; additional content by Warc staff