From the perspective of people working in the Chinese market, Italian shoes remain a product that consumers perceive to have high added value, due in particular to their quality and excellent manufacture. Nevertheless, in China there is a growing interest in sports shoes, for which sales currently exceed classic footwear.
This is what two experts we met at MICAM think about this.
Charlie Zhu is Vice President of POP Fashion, a Shanghai based company operating in the fashion sector counting 200 trend experts, analysts and researchers, 7 divisions and 12 commercial offices overseas, as well as 600,000 companies and 1,160,000 designers. Zhu believes that in China Italian footwear is seen as connected to the culture of artisanship which goes hand in hand with quality and fashion. When Chinese consumers think about fashion, they think about the big brands that can invest a lot in advertising. “However”, explains Zhu, “1 billion and 400 thousand consumers, coming from different areas and cultures, have different tastes and requirements; the market therefore cannot merely be saturated by the big names. Consequently, there is more attention on small brands. And then there’s the phenomenon of online sales, which is very strong in China, and which makes it easier for smaller brands to attract consumer attention. You just need to be online”. Something has, nevertheless, shifted regarding Chinese consumers’ tastes: they now prefer casual and sporty shoes and women, even those working in offices, are opting less and less for high heels. The most sales are made during “festival days” online, opportunities for the big online sales platforms to give hefty discounts, for instance on the 11th November, which is Single’s Day. In these two days they sell more products than in a whole year of traditional sales.
Wang Gang is the President of Beijing King of Caesar International Trade Co. Ltd with 20 monobrand stores selling Italian brands, including Sassetti, Giovanni Fabiani and Loriblu. As a buyer, he knows the tastes of Chinese consumers inside-out and their penchant for the quality of Italian shoes and the unique know how that goes into making them. He also believes that there is more interest in less famous brands with a mid-range price tag that still offer high quality. For women, the best sellers are sports shoes, whereas for men classic footwear crafted from prestigious leathers like cordovan persists. Made is Italy sells well because it is associated to a well-defined style.