Chinese market offers better times for the rich

Updated: 2014-03-03 07:44

By Liu Lu (China Daily)

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"The Chinese market is still young for high-end watch brands, but the potential for growth is huge," he says, adding that China is undoubtedly the world's most dynamic and fastest-growing market for luxury brands generally.

David Sadigh, founder and CEO of the market research company Digital Luxury Group, says people in China show the strongest global interest in haute horlogerie - upmarket timepieces - consumer interest of which in the country rose 57.9 percent last year compared with the year before, accounting for more than 30 percent of sales in the segment.

Chinese market offers better times for the rich

Chinese market offers better times for the rich

"Despite lower reported sales in the mainland, Chinese interest for haute horlogerie continues to grow," Sadigh says. "This love story is not ready to end anytime soon and will continue to drive a substantial proportion of sales outside China."

Li echoes that view. "Although many Swiss watchmakers have been feeling a cooling of demand in China since the end of 2012 because of slowing economic growth and the government crackdown on illegitimate lavish gift-giving and conspicuous consumption, IWC remains very confident about the Chinese market and has no intention of putting a brake on its expansion plans in the country."

Li declines to disclose IWC sales figures, but says that in China it has grown significantly since the company entered the market in 2003, encouraging it to step up its promotion efforts as it aims to become one of the top five watch retailers in the country.

"Although IWC came into China a little later than other Swiss watchmakers, its long history of watch making and its excellent craftsmanship helped it become successful very early on."

Continued sales growth is largely because of its extensive product line, ranging from mid-range watches costing between 30,000 yuan ($4,950) and 40,000 yuan to top-of-the-range timepieces with complex functions that sell for up to 4 million yuan, Li says.

"Such a product strategy has helped us win more market share in China by meeting a diverse range of consumer demand."

IWC has 55 outlets in more than 30 cities nationwide. It says it will continue to expand its presence across the country. At the end of 2012 it opened its flagship store in Beijing, which is its biggest outlet in Asia. In the same year, IWC's website was given a Chinese look. Also a magazine the company publishes came out in Chinese.

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