INTERVIEW | How Will Chinese Culture Inspired Luxury Jewelry Brand Qeelin Go Full Blast To Win The China Market?

April 15,2020

Among all the brands under the Kering Group, there is one distinctive fine jewelry brand --- Qeelin, which takes its inspiration from the Chinese symbolism in its beautiful pieces. The existence of Qeelin in the group is special, as it enjoys complete freedom in creative direction, and is the only brand in the group whose headquarters are located in China. Luxe.CO met Mr. Christophe Artaux, CEO of Qeelin, in the brand’s 15th anniversary when he talked about the primary challenge for Qeelin in China: How to enhance brand awareness. "Qeelin is still a young brand. We are trying to reach out to consumers through digital channels, but it is not easy.  In the face of fierce competition in the Chinese market, we want to continuously produce content, deliver it on different platforms, and ensure that the information about the brand is simple and clear. Promoting a simple, clear, consistent brand to consumers is one of our biggest challenges."

Christophe Artaux, CEO of Qeelin

Cooperate With KOL to Raise Awareness at an Early Stage

Qeelin shows the world the story of China through fine jewelry inspired by Chinese culture. Right now, the brand has begun to tell the brand’s story to Chinese consumers through more digital and younger channels. Qeelin is planning to increase the brand's awareness on social media, unlike previous years when it kept a low profile.

Luxe.CO: What is the users portrait of Qeelin?

Christophe Artaux: Qeelin's customers are modern Chinese women, 80% of whom are aged between 20 and 40. They are independent with good taste in fashion and are accustomed to getting brand information through social media platforms. They are not only willing to pay for their own jewelry, but also value the diversity of the products.

Luxe.CO: How do you see the cooperation between luxury brands, celebrities and KOL?

Christophe Artaux: The cooperation between celebrities and KOL is in the very early stage of brand development. It is a very good way to connect with consumers, especially now when they spend so much time on social networking platforms. Qeelin is also very willing to invest in these areas to further increase brand awareness, and I am glad to say that we can see the results of our investment.

Jewelry Consumption is becoming more common for Chinese Women

Qeelin has adjusted its brand positioning in the past few years as the jewelry consumption of Chinese female consumers has gradually expanded from marriage to daily life. The reasons for buying jewelry are also more diversified in terms of self-reward and self-motivation.

Luxe.CO: How has Chinese consumers jewelry consumption changed in recent years?

Christophe Artaux: Chinese consumers jewelry consumption has changed a lot over the past 10 years. A new generation of independent women are willing to invest in themselves and buy their own jewelry. They no longer buy jewelry just because of the brand, but maybe to match a look for a meaningful moment. Most of them are driven and influenced by social media.

Luxe.CO: What adjustments has Qeelin made to respond to the changing landscape of women's jewelry consumption?

Christophe Artaux:  We have repositioned the brand over the past five years. Qeelin was originally founded as a very high-end jewelry brand, but with its development over the past few years, we repositioned it as a more high-end jewelry brand for daily consumption, and lowered the prices accordingly. As you can see, our jewelry is now designed more for women to wear on a daily basis.

Luxe.CO: What is Qeelin's core competence?

Christophe Artaux: I don't think we have competitors. There is a lot of competition in the jewelry industry, but none of it is in direct competition with us because we are the only modern Chinese luxury jewelry brand. That makes us different. There is nothing like us. We want to connect with millennial consumers with modern Chinese design and aesthetics.

Luxe.CO: Are Chinese elements key to consumers buying Qeelin products?

Christophe Artaux: It’s true that consumers buy our products because of their Chinese elements and what they represent, but at the same time, they buy them because of our creative design. Qeelin is a very modern jewelry brand, a modern version of Chinese jewelry.

Are Stores and E-commerce Extensions of the Brand's "Storytelling"

In the eyes of Christophe Artaux, bricks and mortar and e-commerce are equally important channels for Qeelin to reach users and convey the brand’s stories. Qeelin currently has 33 offline stores in Greater China. In July, it officially opened its second boutique in Paris, next to the flagship store of Boucheron, a jewelry brand also owned by Kering Group, becoming the first Chinese fine jewelry brand to set up shop in the Place Vendome. Qeelin currently has 22 overseas stores in France, Portugal, the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia. Online, it has entered the Tmall Luxury Pavilion platform and added sales functions in its WeChat public account.

Luxe.CO: What do you think about the combination of high-end jewelry brands and e-commerce? What experience does Qeelin have of e-commerce development?

Christophe Artaux: E-commerce has become an unavoidable topic for any brand, and most luxury brands have added e-commerce channels, but the process can be more complex and slower for jewelry brands. A close look at out customers showed us that they like to look for information online, whether on social media or through e-commerce channels, before going to the store and finally making a purchase. The use of online information to make purchasing decisions and making purchases offline also makes e-commerce channels more important. E-commerce is one of the important ways to reach consumers, but entering the e-commerce channel does not mean that a brand can crack the Chinese market overnight. For a young brand like Qeelin to grow rapidly, it must bring traffic to the brand and achieve touchdown. For example, the partnership with Tmall is a good opportunity to bring more traffic to the brand. A year and a half ago we entered the Tmall Luxury Pavillion. It's been a great journey, just right, with real results, and we are very happy with it.

Luxe.CO: What is the retail strategy in China, and what is the difference between China and the US and Europe?

Christophe Artaux:  We mainly sell through multi-brand retailers in the US market, but in China, our business mainly focuses on direct stores. Although we have opened e-commerce channels, stores are still the main driver of our growth. They are the best way to build trust with our customers, are an extension of the brand story Qeelin tells, and the place where we connect most with our customers. We currently have 33 boutiques in China and are planning to add more in the future.

Luxe.CO:  Who are the main customers of the overseas stores? Do they accept jewelry with Chinese elements?

Christophe Artaux: Many Chinese consumers buy luxury goods when they travel overseas, and most of our users are Chinese consumers, no matter where our products are sold, because they know more about the brand and the elements behind Qeelin. Most overseas consumers don't know who Qeelin is, and it's interesting to educate them about the Chinese elements, which requires better storytelling. We can see that overseas consumers are interested in Chinese elements and willing to learn more.

Luxe.CO:  Will Qeelin focus on the Chinese market or overseas market in future?

Christophe Artaux: The Chinese market has been our focus for the past few years. As a Chinese brand, China is obviously our primary market. We want to build our brand in China first, and that's where most of our investment is. Of course, we have also opened stores overseas to meet the demand of travel consumption. At the same time, we plan to gradually promote the brand to the international market, but as I said before, China is our priority. In the future, we plan to open 10 stores a year globally, 80% of which will be in China.


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