Economy and Evolution of the Sector: Understanding the Changes

China, a traditional market with its eyes on the West. Understanding the bridal world’s movement is essential to know what direction to take.

The Chinese economy keeps growing at a constant pace, maintaining rates of around 8% this past decade according to reports provided by Wedding Mobilization Business College, the only educational institution in China specialized in the continuous development of professionals of the sector.

Economic growth

The economic growth of China has paved the way for an improvement in the standard of living for its inhabitants, and this is reflected in a growing part of the population who prioritize quality and import products.

Wedding Mobilization Business College
Boshuai Lui Conference in the Wedding Mobilization Business College

In 2018 China became the greatest consumer market in the world. In relation to the bridal industry, according to the study Novias Millenial y Gen Z: El sector de la moda nupcial en 2023 (Millennial and Gen Z brides: The nuptial fashion sector in 2023) by professor José L. Nueno and VBBFW this year, it is also the biggest market in number of weddings and the second biggest in total sales, (only surpassed by the United States) in spite of facing a steady shrinkage of its internal market since 2012, in terms of number of weddings. Despite the drop in weddings conducted, the bridal and evening dress market is rapidly growing, generating positive results for the owners of specialized stores.

Professor José L. Nueno gives the rise in export of Spanish wedding dress brands to China throughout 2018 as an example, as it went up by 30% compared to 2017, highlighting as well the increase in average expense per dress, a trend which is expected to continue during the following years.

The increase in exportation of Spanish wedding dresses to China throughout 2018 exceeded 2017 by 30%.

Where to invest

The Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs published data about the first three quarters of 2019 on November 5th, 2019. According to the report, during this time frame the number of registered weddings across the country, although 6.78% lower than last year within the same span, was 7.13 million. The regions which hold the highest number of nuptials are: Yangtze River Delta, comprising the municipality of Shanghái, and the Pearl River Delta, the richest province in China, alongside the interior regions of Sichuan and Henan.

Temple of Heaven
Couple in the Temple of Heaven, Beijing

The great territorial expanse of China requires a strategy to locate places to settle in, as well as assessment by sector professionals with knowledge of the market. 

The regions which hold the highest number of weddings are: the Yangtze River Delta, comprising the municipality of Shanghai, and the Pearl River Delta.

Business strategy: importance of the brand’s visibility

Chinese culture highly values interpersonal relationships with a marked hierarchical manner and prolonged negotiations. As for social media, prior knowledge of the brand is a very important factor in the buyers’ decision to purchase, not only will the presence of foreign firms be essential in the applications traditional to the Chinese market, with content exclusively in their language, Wechat and Weibo, but also a vast amount of activity on them.

Beyond Trends, China, Top Bridal
Top Bridal, Shanghai

It should be noted that the Chinese population does not have access to the majority of sites hosted on servers outside their country. For this reason it is not necessary for Western brands aiming to position themselves in this market online to invest resources in presenting their content on digital platforms in Chinese. It would be advisable to adapt content to the Chinese public using the aforementioned digital channels: Wechat and Weibo.

Prior knowledge of the brand is a very important factor and, therefore, it is essential for firms to be present on Wechat and Weibo with content exclusively in Chinese.

The role of international fairs and consultancies

The import of international product and presence at the sector’s fairs are activities reserved exclusively for Chinese companies that are able to make international payments in foreign currency. These companies require qualified personnel proficient in English. The number of companies visiting the foremost international fairs has been growing over the past years, seeking direct contact with foreign brands to obtain their official distribution.

Les Rêves Collection. The Atelier by Jimmy Choo
The number of companies visiting the foremost international fairs has been growing over the past years.

The most prestigious brands

Regarding international brands, the bridal sector in China includes the presence of, Marchesa, Jenny Packham, Peter Langner, Yolancris, Galia Lahav, Zuhair Murad, Julia Kontogruni, Ersa Atelier and Marco&María among others.

The most prestigious national brands in China are Wang Feng, Movous and Kathy Lawrence. However, given the geographic proximity and introduction to the sector, The Atelier and its creative director Jimmy Choo, from Malasya, and brands like Sophia y Nicole + Felicia from Taiwan are regarded by the Chinese bride as national brands of reference.

Western brands have great diffusion and appeal for the Chinese bride.
Wang Feng
Design by Wang Feng

Conclusions

1. The continued growth of the Chinese economy is also reflected by the bridal sector. The bridal and evening dress market is rapidly expanding, which translates into opportunities for both specialized stores and suppliers alike.

2. Some key points that brands must consider when tackling the Chinese market are:
—Hiring the services of a consultancy that knows the sector.
—Locating areas where the product can settle.
—Establishing yourself on traditional Chinese digital channels, Wechat and Weibo.

3. International fairs have become a reference point when first making contact between Chinese buyers and bridal clothing firms.

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OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

Valmont Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week is postponed to new dates: 8-14 June 2020.