As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to afflict the luxury industry worldwide, China becomes more important than ever due to its swift recovery and the repatriation of wealthy consumers barred from international travel. Luxury brands have adopted more sophisticated digital tools and are searching for new ways to connect with Chinese consumers. The top ten brands in Gartner’s Digital IQ Index: Luxury China continue to invest in celebrities and KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders/influencers), but also experiment with livestreaming, emerging social media platforms, and new channels of e-commerce like Tmall.
1. Louis Vuitton Digital IQ: 146
Louis Vuitton maintains its genius brand status for the second year in a row by investing heavily in celebrity and KOLs to drive buzz and continuing to innovate with a particular focus on Gen-Z consumers. The brand created its own sneaker-centric WeChat Mini Program to host product drops, was one of the first luxury brands to livestream on RED (user-generated content platform which combines features similar to Instagram and Pinterest), and collaborated with video game League of Legends on Bilibili (YouTube-like video platform popular with young consumers) to let users create virtual avatars of the game’s characters. Louis Vuitton also livestreamed its Shanghai fashion show, which earned record-breaking views on Weibo and Douyin (Tik Tok’s counterpart in China).
2. Gucci Digital IQ: 145
Gucci rose to second place in this year’s ranking with its strong social media presence, including a portfolio of top tier influencers across multiple platforms. Gucci only launched on Douyin in April, but it already amassed 930K followers and 6M likes – the highest of all luxury brands active on the platform. The brand has also taken advantage of RED and Douyin during key holiday periods, offering giveaways to drive offline traffic, tailoring content to each platform, and even hosting a flash store on RED to facilitate e-commerce.
3. Bvlgari Digital IQ: 141
Bvlgari developed a seamless ecosystem of WeChat Mini Programs, venturing into livestreaming and offering best-in-class gifting and product customization, aftersale services, and omnichannel functionality. It continues to drive online buzz for its collaborations and offline exhibitions with A-list celebrities such as Kris Wu. Additionally, Bvlgari has aggressively entered the fast-growing handbag category through collaborations with Japanese jewelry brand Ambush and streetwear designer Alexander Wang.
4. Cartier Digital IQ: 137
Much of Cartier’s success this past year is due to its strong celebrity portfolio and successful Tmall launch. Cartier relied on a large number of trendy celebrities and KOLs to promote the launch with the hashtag #CartierOnTmall gaining more than 550 million views on Weibo. The brand tripled its store followers within a few months with a series of Tmall marketing activations including a Super Brand Day, a new product launch via Hey Box, and a Tmall-exclusive product.
5. Dior Digital IQ: 136
Dior saw one of the biggest improvements over the past year by upgrading its WeChat Mini Program functionality and experimenting on emerging platforms targeting Gen-Z consumers. Dior’s WeChat Mini Programs have featured games, a VR store during lockdown, and AR filters to enhance offline store visits. Early to Douyin, Dior has also been quick to adopt RED and is one of the few luxury brands active on Bilibili. Dior also leveraged League of Legends gamer JackeyLove for its limited-edition sneaker with Air Jordan to target Gen Z consumers.
6. Tiffany Digital IQ: 131
Tiffany’s new brand ambassador, proven engagement driver pop idol Jackson Yee, combined with significant paid media investment boosted the brand’s new T1 collection and buzz across social media platforms. Tiffany markets heavily on RED during key periods, utilizing sophisticated paid strategy, flash stores, livestreaming, and influencer collaborations to create holistic campaigns. The #ShowOffMyTiffany RED hashtag has been viewed more than 50 million times – the highest among watches and jewelry.
7. Burberry Digital IQ: 128
Burberry’s strengths are its customer touchpoints. In July, Burberry opened its Shenzhen flagship store in partnership with Tencent, enhancing the offline experience with scannable QR codes, gamification, and social currency via Mini Program. It offers a sophisticated Mini Program ecosystem with strong customer service and omnichannel functionality. Additionally, Burberry launched a tiered loyalty program on the Tmall store that offers experiential gifts, early access to products, and exclusive offline events. Burberry is an early adopter of Tmall livestreaming among pure luxury brands and its most successful livestream earned more than 600k views – the second highest of all luxury brand Tmall livestreams.
8. Chow Sang Sang Digital IQ: 126
Chow Sang Sang climbed into the top ten with an amplified content strategy on both social media and e-commerce. On RED, the brand had the highest growth of all watches and jewelry brands due to its successful UGC hashtag campaign. Chow Sang Sang required users to post with the hashtag in order to enter giveaways and as such, the hashtag #BlingBlingChowSangSang has become the most-used paid hashtag of all tracked brands. The brand is also one of the most successful on Douyin due to its celebrity portfolio. On Tmall, the brand adopted an always-on livestreaming strategy. It was the most active luxury brand, streaming once a day on average. Chow Sang Sang’s activity is rewarded with strong visibility on category search terms.
9. Swarovski Digital IQ: 124
Swarovski saw major improvements in its online buzz and social media engagement after naming hot young actor Wang Yibo its new celebrity ambassador. In addition to featuring him at the center of several social campaigns, Swarovski created limited edition product drops to appeal directly to his fanbase. The brand was one of the most active watches and jewelry brands with KOL partnerships across platforms, further building its social media buzz. Swarovski also opened multiple experiential stores offering personalized services and digitally enhanced settings like lighting color.
10. Chow Tai Fook Digital IQ: 123
Aggressively utilizing KOLs and generating organic conversations, Chow Tai Fook is one of the fastest-growing brands on RED and now rivals pure watches and jewelry brands like Tiffany and Bvlgari in number of mentions. For example, its Heritage collection garners high visibility on both RED and Douyin for its traditional gold molding methods, earning more than 150 million views on the video platform. Not only are Chow Tai Fook’s subbrands Soinlove and Monologue popular among Gen-Z, but the brand has also taken targeting a step further with a digitally-enabled smart store concept designed specifically to target younger consumers. Additionally, Chow Tai Fook maintains strong control of search results on Tmall.
10. Prada Digital IQ: 123
Prada increased its investment in social media with more celebrity and KOL content and upgraded commerce functionality. Prada’s launch on Tmall during the COVID-19 lockdowns complements one of the strongest DTC brand site experiences with sophisticated product pages and omnichannel features including in-store pickup and offline store inventory information. Even without an official account on RED, Prada collaborates constantly with KOLs and is among the most mentioned brands.