CELINE makes digital push in China

As other regions stall, China’s a market ripe for growth for luxury brands. The pull is so strong, even the digitally-averse Céline can’t hold out. The LVMH-owned label launched a brand account on the Chinese social media platform WeChat this week

By establishing a presence on WeChat, Céline is finally making progress in digital, and in a big way: As of September, WeChat has more than 900 million daily users. The luxury brand has been notoriously slow to adopt any form of digital technology, only launching its Instagram account earlier this year.

It’s still absent from other social platforms, including Facebook, which creative director Phoebe Philo once said she would rather walk down the street naked than join. And after years of holdout, the brand’s first e-commerce site is finally in the works: CEO Séverine Merle, who joined the company in February, announced plans to launch Céline’s first online store by the end of the year.

Regardless of a luxury brand’s anxiety over e-commerce, the potential for growth in China is undeniable. Thanks to shifting consumer behavior, a crackdown on counterfeits and an emphasis on bringing luxury purchases home, Chinese luxury customers are spending more money domestically. But a complex e-commerce market, dominated by Alibaba, JD.com and WeChat, has resulted in luxury brands partnering up with these platforms in order to make a more seamless direct connection with customers.

Céline’s not the first luxury brand to gain footing in China by working on WeChat, without a formal e-commerce presence. In 2016, Dior sold a limited-edition handbag directly to customers who followed the brand on WeChat, with the collection of $4,000 bags selling out within the first day of the sale. In China, Coach had experimented with Tmall before closing its store on the e-commerce marketplace platform and focusing solely on a WeChat strategy, according to CEO Victor Luis.

CELINE store London