The Chinese diaspora, which consists of migrants, citizens studying abroad, and outbound travelers, were significant in fueling luxury consumption overseas before the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition to their strong buying power, they had a substantial influence on social media, allowing them to become valued customers of international brands and retailers.
However, geopolitical challenges and travel restrictions amid the pandemic have been reshaping Chinese consumer footprints. Chinese tourists have been absent from once-popular shopping destinations like Hong Kong and select European and Asian countries since 2020. Meanwhile, Chinese students and workers have been moving back to their homeland. According to statistics collected by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China, among the 2.51 million Chinese students studying abroad between 2016 and 2019, more than 80 percent of them returned to China after graduating.
Now, both demographics have driven consumption repatriation, helping to double China’s overall share of the global luxury market in 2020 to 20 percent, as disclosed in “China’s Unstoppable 2020 Luxury Market,” released by Bain & Company. And this shift has ignited retail turbulence worldwide.
Overseas Chinese customers no longer frequented global luxury destinations. Even meccas for fashionistas, such as the British department store Selfridges, weren’t immune to this challenge. In fact, the owners of Selfridges are considering a buyout, valued at 4 billion pounds, from an unidentified buyer, React News reported on June 10.
On the other hand, some discerning players have seized this post-pandemic opportunity by remapping their China market. Harrods recently unveiled the second phase of its unique private shopping initiative — The Residence, Beijing — on the heels of The Residence, Shanghai, which opened last year. Canadian fashion e-tailer SSENSE received a financial injection from Sequoia Capital on June 8. And Farfetch has been accelerating its localization strategies since collaborating with Alibaba and Richemont. Here, Jing Daily spotlights three successful China-oriented solutions that international luxury retail disruptors have implemented since the pandemic began.
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