Chaumet sees dazzling opportunities in China
[Photo provided to China Daily]
French high-jewelry house Chaumet is seeing huge opportunities from the Chinese market with more stores in the pipeline, after it saw significant double-digit growth in the nation last year, a senior executive said.
"China is an extraordinarily important market because Chinese customers are among the most important for us and they have a real love for Chaumet, a narrative house that has crossed centuries," said Jean-Marc Mansvelt, CEO of Chaumet.
The remarks came as Chaumet has been in China for some 15 years, and the brand has run into an accelerated expansion in the nation, with more local stores opened for customers. By the end of 2021, Chaumet had 27 shops in the world's second-largest luxury market.
"This year, we plan to open at least three new stores in new towns but still in a selective state. There will be projects around high-jewelry and customer experiences depending on the state of health,"Mansvelt said.
Chaumet has experienced growing success since 2017 in China, and experienced significant double-digit growth last year. The senior executive attributed the success partly to their growing popularity and consumers in search of distinction.
"The jewelry market is booming in China and there is an amazing opportunity," Mansvelt said.
Data from the Gems and Jewelry Trade Association of China showed that sales in China's jewelry market reached 610 billion yuan ($96.2 billion) in 2020.
As the consumption upgrade gains momentum, China's jewelry market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.1 percent to hit 770 billion yuan in 2026, according to Euromonitor International, a United Kingdom-based market research company.
The burgeoning market invites intense competition. Mansvelt believes that as a brand with a 241-year heritage, Chaumet's uniqueness helps it stand out.
"Ultimately, there are very few historic, authentic brands with equivalent values (in China). There is room for everyone and we have a special place, because we are a very old house with a historical dimension, longevity and transmission," Mansvelt said.
He said Chaumet does not judge its group of particular clientele by age. "What interests us is clients looking for a distinction, so it is not a question of age but a state of mind. An object of jewelry is for oneself, but it is also one for the others."
To better resonate with Chinese consumers, Chaumet held an exhibition called Tiara Dream in Beijing in November.
"We are constantly trying to both tell the long story and then talk to the generations of today in today's modalities," Mansvelt said.
Those efforts dovetail with a generational shift in China's luxury market, as Generation Z consumers are becoming a major consumer group.
A research report from consulting firm Oliver Wyman said China's luxury fashion market in 2021 is being propelled by a cohort of 1.5 million consumers whose average annual spending on luxury products has exceeded 40,000 yuan.
Among them, 50 percent bought luxury fashion items for the first time between October 2020 and September 2021. It is this surge in first-time luxury fashion consumers that is expected to be responsible for 88 percent of China's luxury fashion market growth in 2021, Oliver Wyman said.
"A lot of consumers who might have spent money on traveling before other things, especially younger Gen-Z consumers, have instead entered the luxury category," said Imke Wouters, retail and consumer goods partner at Oliver Wyman, adding 40 percent of the first-time luxury consumers surveyed were under 25 years old.
Chaumet noticed the shift quite early on, and it is working to better engage Gen Z consumers with digital technologies. During its offline Tiara Dream exhibition, for instance, Chaumet also launched an online exhibition on WeChat and reported a viewership of more than 2.5 million.
"We are using the means Gen Z consumers use, but at the same time, it's also a generation that is attached to authentic houses that tell a real story over the long term. To reach them, we cannot only use the tools of modernity, but it is also by telling who we are, authentically," Mansvelt said. "We want a balance between modernity and the past with the right dosage."