Chinese want luxury but will forego brand names if price is right, says e-commerce retailer Biyao

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 July, 2015, 6:49pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 July, 2015, 7:14pm

Chinese shoppers are quickly warming to cheaper goods that offer luxury quality despite a long-running national obsession with designer logos and easy-to-flaunt status symbols, according to Chinese e-commerce site Biyao. 

The company, a customer to manufacturer (C2M) platform, claims to have seen traffic surge in the first three months of its operation. 

“If you call China the world’s manufacturer, Biyao is a global platform offering customers the best price for luxury quality goods, ” Biyao CEO Bi Sheng said in Beijing on Thursday. 

The website has attracted more than three million users since May as Chinese shoppers’ purchasing power grows and the public’s tastes mature, it said.

Bi, who formerly served as a vice president at China’s leading search engine Baidu, said it took his team almost one and a half years to win over designers and manufacturers of luxury goods.

By cutting out the big brands and other middle-men, he can now offer goods of comparable quality for a significantly cheaper price, sometimes as low as 10 per cent of what a similar name-branded garment or accessory would cost, he said.

After talking to about 1,000 manufacturers and designers, the company chose six product categories to pursue based on their profit potential: women’s and men’s shoes, sports products, suitcases, accessories and glasses.

Bi said a leading manufacturer in Singapore worked with Biyao on a special lens that protects people’s eyes after using smart devices for long periods, and that this work culminated in a customised piece of eyewear the site is now selling under the brand name Badge.

Some of the frames were designed by the same people who make glasses for brands like Ray-Ban and Armani, Bi said. 

But whereas designer names of that stature can charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars for their products, a pair of Badge spectacles retails for 169 yuan to 499 yuan (US$27-US$80), depending on the materials chosen. 

“The glasses are light, stylish and healthy for your eyes. In this hi-tech era, everyone needs a pair of glasses of these,” Bi said. 

The company has also designed an app so that users can photograph their faces to find the most suitable eyewear, it said. 

Chinese spent over one trillion dollars to account for 47 per cent of the world’s luxury goods sales in 2013, according to a survey by Chinese research institute Fortune Character last year.