Moschino

MILAN — With China expected to become the biggest market for fashion in 2020, as forecast by McKinsey, Italian brands are finding a powerful ally in the Alibaba Group.

Among the domestic fashion labels supported by the Chinese company is Moschino, which generates around 14 percent of its business in the Asian country.

“Since we kicked off our collaboration with Alibaba opening an online store on Tmall a year ago, our online sales saw double-digit growth in China,” Moschino said general manager Gabriele Maggio, during a press event organized by Alibaba at its Milanese headquarters on Wednesday. “We have noticed that it’s almost impossible for a brand to penetrate the market on its own and with the directly operated online store since the shopping habits in China are completely different from other markets.”

According to Alibaba business development director Cristina Fontana, one of the biggest differences is that China is quintessentially a mobile-first nation.

“Ninety percent of the transactions on our digital platforms are finalized online,” said Fontana, putting the focus on the fact that the online business in the market is dominated by “mega apps,” which are highly interactive. “Gamification is key for our customers, as well as the fact that users can find and share reviews on every single product.”

According to Fontana, with an average age of 28 years, Chinese luxury consumers are 10 years younger in Western countries and are generally highly loyal to their favorite brands. This makes it extremely important for labels to continue to develop compelling content, as well as captivating product offerings, to keep their interest alive.

“We are noticing that the Made in Italy is a value that when communicated is highly relevant and interesting for our customers,” Fontana said. “Actually, we can say that in general Italian brands are focusing 50 percent of their branding activities on Tmall on the development and communication of content telling their story and their heritage rooted in craftsmanship and quality.”

Fontana also highlighted the importance of high-speed customer service in China, where Tmall operates a live chat featuring a response time shorter than 60 seconds.

To facilitate its affiliated brands’ businesses in the Chinese market, Fontana revealed that Alibaba is investing in deeper data analytics to provide companies with detailed trend reports, and, at the same time, is developing marketing tests to enable mass market brands especially to shorten the product development phase and introduce in China new items fitting the real needs of local customers.