Following news that Topshop and Miss Selfridge are set to enter China via online fashion portal ShangPin.com, Mintel’s Director of Asia Pacific research Matthew Crabbe gives his analysis on the impact and challenges ahead:

Arcadia-owned UK fashion retailers Top Shop and Miss Selfridge have both announced plans to enter the China market via the online fashion portal ShangPin.com. Arcadia CEO Philip Green has been talking about Topshop’s entry into the China market for decades, but now sees the emergence of online retail as the tipping-point opportunity to finally get in there. But getting noticed will not be easy. While ShangPin provides a hard-core of Chinese fashionistas, it only covers 5 million users. China is already a highly fragmented market, with many competing brands, especially in the mid-market fashion sector.

For Topshop and Miss Selfridge to really carve a name out for themselves among Chinese consumers, they need to come in with a stand-out brand proposition, and a particular target consumer group in mind. Then they need to get social. Being online in China is like being Mr Smith in the telephone directory. Brands only become visible when they get to know their potential customers personally, and these days that is done through social media. Few brands have yet successfully caught up with the social media marketing movement, even in China, but the leading fashion brands are beginning to get there. Topshop and Miss Selfridge will have to learn this new game, and learn it fast!

Matthew Crabbe is Research Director Asia Pacific at Mintel. Matthew covers a variety of Chinese market sectors including retail, E-commerce and food and drink and is regularly called upon by the global media to give his analysis on market developments in China.

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