American Marketer


Automakers make up 54pc Chinese Internet searches: study

April 27, 2012


German automakers Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz along with Toyota Corp.'s Lexus are among the top luxury brands searched by Internet users in China, according to the World Luxury Index report.

The international report by the Digital Luxury Group in partnership with the Luxury Society discovered that luxury automakers were searched for more than any other type of luxury brand in China last year. In the high-end fashion category, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Christian Dior were sought-out most online for both beauty and fashion products.

“The methodology of the study used volume of searches to analyze and rank the brands,” said Tamar Koifman, head of marketing at the Digital Luxury Group, Geneva.

“Cars, being the expensive, high-consideration purchases that they are, lend themselves to more pre-purchase research than a pair of shoes might,” she said.

This is the first international World Luxury Index report that ranked the 50 most-searched-for luxury brands in China.

Digital Luxury Group focuses on the digital effectiveness of its luxury brand clients.

Luxury Society is a worldwide community of luxury executives.

Car fever
Per the research findings, automotive searches made up 54 percent of the total searches for luxury marketers in China. This was followed by 18 percent for beauty brands and 17 percent for fashion labels.

Eighteen of the top 50 most-searched luxury brands in China were automakers.

German automaker Audi was the most searched-for luxury automaker. It may have achieved a No. 1 ranking due to its status as the official car of the Chinese government, per the report.

Audi R8

Searches for specific brand models made up 73 percent of the searches for Audi.

BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Porsche and Lamborghini were also among the top 10 on the list.

BMW 6 Series coupe

Other notable rankings included Land Rover at No. 16, Ferrari at No. 17 and Cadillac at No. 20.

Many of these automakers are currently increasing their marketing efforts in China.

For example, BMW, Land Rover and other luxury automakers tapped the growing luxury market in China by releasing new vehicles at the Auto China 2012 car show this week (see story).

What women want
The World Luxury Index found that categories consumers searched for under high-end fashion labels differed from brand to brand.

For instance, 94 percent of searches were fashion- or accessory-related for Louis Vuitton, the leader of the fashion brands at No. 3 on the report.

Louis Vuitton spring/summer 2012

In contrast, 80 percent of Dior searches related to beauty and, more specifically, fragrance.

Meanwhile, Chanel was split with 50 percent of searching aiming for beauty products and 40 percent looking for fashion and accessories.

Another notable finding was that Chinese consumers often search for luxury brands with a nickname or in Mandarin, per Ms. Koifman.

Luxury fashion brands may become more digitally-visible to Chinese consumers by incorporating these alternative names into their search keywords.

For example, 76 percent of searches for Burberry were done with the unofficial brand name written 巴宝莉.

Meanwhile, 63 percent of searches for Louis Vuitton were made using its initials LV.

Overall, visibility matters for the Chinese consumer.

French fashion brand Moncler and Borghese were the luxury brand success stories of this report due to their marketing efforts in China, per Ms. Koifman.

“French fashion brand Moncler has been generating a surprisingly high level of interest in China thanks to its sponsorship of a widely-watched television program in which the main characters all wear Moncler,” Ms. Koifman said. “This shows how important and influential television in China can be.

“Another really interesting example is Borghese, a beauty brand that is significantly stronger in China than in the rest of the world,” she said. “Here, the impact of having a cult product that is well-received in beauty forums and blogs is at work.”

Final Take
Tricia Carr, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York