Western Niche Brands at the Best Price with Mihaibao

The second of Margot de Groot van Embend’s three-part analysis of the new trends in China’s luxury market focuses on a case study of Mihaibao.

“No fancy words. Just try and you will know.”

Using this slogan, Mihaibao, a transborder luxury e-commerce platform, welcomes its website’s visitors and invites them to download the App through a QR code displayed on the homepage.

Instead of promoting a sparkling and unattainable ideal, Mihaibao commits itself to provide customers with trustworthy service and value-for-money luxury goods. Co-founded in 2015 by Jacqueline Lam, Mihaibao strives to replace the huge “daigou” market, which is composed of Chinese shopping agents who purchase luxury goods overseas and sell imported luxury goods at a high price premium to mainland customers. Mihaibao has partnered with Western brands, allowing Chinese users to purchase high-end luxury goods directly from abroad, and ensures the lowest price globally for its selected product. The company’s first target market is the emerging Chinese middle-class in tier III and IV cities, where customers are more price-driven and have limited luxury retail options compared to their urban counterparts.

However, the platform is not restricted to affluent Chinese consumers, eager to offer a Lady Dior bag to their mother or to buy their first pair of Gucci sunglasses. Mihaibao is also introducing Chinese consumers to less renown contemporary brands and young designers, brands that are established in international department stores but often unheard of in broader China. On Mihaibao, more sophisticated consumers who are looking for “niche” brands to replace their now “commonplace” monogram LV bag can find an interesting selection of brands such as Les Petits Joueurs, Boboutic, or the American menswear designer Thom Browne.

For those who want to become the “happy few” in owning exclusive fashion items, Mihaibao offers limited-edition products, like Karl Lagerfeld’s camera-shaped beauty bag, or a glittering, 10-cm tall pair of Louboutin. “Isn’t weird to wear the same outfit as someone else? Everyone feels uncomfortable and unattractive. All nice things are in limited quantities,” the platform [link in Chinese]. With the popularization of luxury goods in China, providing exclusiveness and novelty has become an important marketing strategy, especially in attracting upper-class consumers.

Recently, foreign businesses have started to leverage on the daigou community to better showcase and sell foreign products in China, converting a retail blight into a marketing ally. However, Mihaibao’s advantage lies in its ability to be able to cater both first-time customers and sophisticated luxury clients through the same platform.

Margot de Groot van Embden is a Junior Fellow at Asia Centre and can be contacted at groot2@hotmail.fr.

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