China’s most important jewelry retailer Chow Tai Fook is banking on the youthful, patriotic and affluent Technology Z cohort acquiring “China-chic” items to fuel expansion.

The solid need from individuals born after 1995 for jewelry motivated by Chinese symbols this kind of as dragons and phoenixes — the traditional emblems of emperors and empresses — has driven considerable progress in the course of the pandemic.

“[Gen Z] is just one of the cohorts that has the potential [to pay] and is most keen to devote massive,” reported Chow Tai Fook controlling director Chan Sai-cheong in an interview with the Financial Moments.

“Many of them are not breadwinners of their families . . . so they can enjoy everyday living additional compared with their mother and father.”

The younger generation is patriotic and prepared to devote on domestic brands over the overseas brand names that had enjoyed additional prestige in the previous, reported Chan. Guochao — a pattern around translated as “China-chic” — has led to an explosion of Chinese luxury makes.

“They adore our [traditional] goods, which can go with the fashion enormously,” said Chan.

Millennial and Gen Z cohorts accounted for much more than 56 for each cent of revenue for Chow Tai Fook’s “heritage collection” amongst April and September of 2021, according to the corporation.

Founded in 1929, Chow Tai Fook grew from one particular goldsmith’s store in the southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou to grow to be recognised as the Tiffany’s of the east.

The company has prospered throughout the pandemic. Full retail revenue at the Hong Kong-detailed jeweller soared 79 for each cent between April and September last year to HK$44bn ($5.6bn). In the course of that period, earnings from mainland China rose 82 per cent to HK$38bn.

A pedestrian uses a smartphone outside a Chow Tai Fook jewellery store
Chow Tai Fook designs to open a lot more than 2,000 new retailers throughout China by 2025 © Paul Yeung/Bloomberg

Its shares have risen almost 150 per cent considering that January 2019, before the pandemic strike, to HK$13.30 on Wednesday.

Chan reported expansion was partly simply because of China’s “one-child” policy — carried out among 1980 and 2015 to control the nation’s inhabitants — that resulted in customers of Gen Z increasing up in center-class homes with disposable revenue. The cohort makes up about 15 per cent, or about 200m, of China’s population, according to McKinsey.

With extra than 5,000 merchants in additional than 660 metropolitan areas in mainland China, Chow Tai Fook is plotting a quick growth even as President Xi Jinping pushes his “common prosperity” social reforms and cracks down on corruption.

The company options to open up a lot more than 2,000 new outlets across the nation by 2025, lots of of which would be situated in more compact 3rd- or fourth-tier towns that have a quick-increasing center course.

The business is concentrating on “affordable luxury” or more simple gold jewelry things, this kind of as pendants, bracelets and rings, with most merchandise priced on an common of no additional than Rmb10,000 ($1,575).

China’s individual luxurious goods current market has doubled in sizing amongst 2019 and 2021 to characterize about $69bn, or 21 for each cent, of the in general global market place, according to a Bain & Co report issued in November.

Several different pieces from the heritage gold collection with traditional Chinese symbols including mythical creatures such as Pixiu
Gold jewellery at a Chow Tai Fook shop © Chan Ho-him/FT

That expansion took place when luxurious markets in Europe, Japan and the relaxation of Asia only “partially recovered” final yr and had even now not attained pre-Covid stages, it stated.

Xianchi Dai, affiliate professor of marketing and advertising at the Chinese College of Hong Kong, thought the desire for superior-conclude jewellery in mainland China would only get more powerful.

Advancement “will continue on above the subsequent [few] years”, stated Dai, incorporating that “common prosperity” would even further drive sales as the middle class improved and Gen Z shopped on-line.

“[Gen Z] likes diverse types of jewellery . . . their choice for the style of Chinese cultural aspects could also increase for the duration of situations of significant international tensions,” he explained. “They have grown up in the course of the digital age and hence they are substantially more helpful to on-line shopping.”

Just one of Chow Tai Fook’s rivals, Hong Kong-outlined Lukfook Jewellery, also has ideas to open up to 350 new retailers this calendar year, with quite a few of them situated in decreased-tier metropolitan areas, though also expanding its ecommerce platforms to reach the younger era.

“[We will] step up our initiatives to encourage the product sales of affordable luxurious jewelry products . . . in the youthful consumer industry,” stated Nancy Wong, Lukfook’s government director and deputy chief government. “The mainland China sector will be our advancement driver.”

The aim on China comes as Chow Tai Fook and Lukfook’s sales in Hong Kong are getting rid of momentum. Income has picked up but is nevertheless reduce than pre-pandemic stages as a consequence of less mainland Chinese visitors, who ended up the most significant individuals.

For now, the suppliers are still keeping out hope for a border reopening between Hong Kong and mainland China, which has been in talks for months but has nevertheless to materialise, to enable boost advancement in the city.

Peter Suen, Chow Tai Fook’s govt director, explained: “A partial resumption of quarantine-totally free travel could not be in a position to carry us swift expansion [in sales] . . . but that is unquestionably a far better problem.”

By Amalia