In 2019, China’s down jacket market was nearly 121 billion RMB in revenue. According to CNBData’s 2019 Insight on Online Down Jacket Consumers Report, carried out in collaboration with TMall, 70% of online shoppers who opted for purchasing a puffer jacket that year were female, and most of them lived in Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities. In 2021, Chinese luxury consumers mentioned Canada Goose, Bosideng and Moncler as the top 3 most popular brands in China’s down jacket market, but the current hype for puffer jackets, partly due to Beijing’s hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics, is attracting new players, such as the French brand Nivose and the Canadian outwear company Mackage.
When the wind of change blows, puffer jackets shed their skin
With the upgrade of living standards and the emergence of tech-savvy luxury-addicted Gen-Z consumers as the new driving force of Chinese fashion industry, China’s down jacket market is undergoing a major renovation. Nowadays, five main trends can be observed helping us to figure out where China’s down jacket market is going.
Quality is key, preference for goose-down is on the rise
Today quality is a keyword for Chinese consumers when it comes to purchase a down jacket. Indeed, 68% of people interviewed by CNBData mentioned it as the main factor affecting their shopping decisions. Today, Chinese consumers pay greater attention to the padding material and its percentage amount in a puffer jacket. Although duck-down are still the most common padding, sales of higher-quality goose-down jackets are increasing faster and faster. Fabrics are an important feature as well: innovative clothing, such as those containing waterproof Gore-Tex, are enjoying a moderate success.
A wider consumer base
Even though Millennials hold the lion share of puffer outwear purchases, Gen-Z consumers represent the fastest-growing group. In addition, the consumer base of China’s down jacket market becomes even more varied as puffer outwear spreads among people living in the southern area of the country.
Data source: CNBData, designed by Daxue Consulting, Online shopping frequency of down jackets in 2019 by age group
Style and functionality
As younger generations’ interest in wearing puffer outwear grows, originality and glamor become keywords in China’s down jacket market. Puffer clothing are no longer just for warming up, but they have to be a tool for expressing their owners’ personality and taste. By surfing the Guochao wave and the nostalgia fever, combining different styles can turn down jackets into must-haves for Chinese young consumers. Nevertheless, different age groups have different style preferences. According to the CNBData report, Gen-Z consumers tend to prefer oversized jackets, while Millennials look for slim fit ones.
Climbing to the top
The greater emphasis on quality and originality is making jump China’s down jackets from the fast fashion realm to the scintillating world of luxury. More and more puffer outwear brands are establishing collaborations with big names of the fashion industry and are beginning to have their own catwalk shows during Fashion Weeks, in an attempt to catch Chinese Gen-Z luxury-loving customers.
Breaking the curse of seasonality
Between December 2020 and January 2021, Chinese netizens searched for the term “down jacket” on Baidu 155 times more than during June and July. Understandably, puffer jackets are tightly linked to wintertime and cold weather, which leaves brands revenues dry in the spring and summer. Thereby, big players in China’s down jacket market are now trying to cut their dependence on seasonality through providing lighter and cooler clothing for the spring and summer months. For instance, the Canadian outwear company Canada Goose has launched a line of lightweight down jackets, rainwear and windwear, in an attempt to go beyond their renowned parkas; while the Italian luxury brand Moncler has expanded its product range and released a waterproof rain poncho, pet apparel and perfumes. Now 66% of Chinese consumers declare being eager to purchase a down jacket out-of-season, providing outwear brands with big room for getting steadier sales growth.
Source: Canada Goose Chinese Official Website, Canada Goose light jacket
Bosideng and Peacebird: two top players in China’s down jacket market
Chinese outwear group Bosideng closed 2016 with a turnover of about 5.8 billion RMB, recording a loss of 8% compared to the previous year. Nevertheless, after undergoing a tremendous overhaul in 2017, which resulted in a rebranding and the consequent repositioning on the Chinese market, Bosideng’s revenues kept on growing until hitting nearly 12.2 billion RMB during the fiscal year 2019-2020. The Chinese outwear brand improved its reputation by inviting western influencers, such as Chiara Ferragni, to its runway shows during Milan and New York Fashion Weeks. Moreover, the brand established collaborations with renowned stylists, like Jean Paul Gaultier and Kenzo, trying to position itself in the mid-to-high-end range.
Source: Bosideng Official Website, Bosideng x Gaultier collection
China’s fashion group Peacebird opted for a different strategy, instead. The group includes 8 distinct brands: Peacebird Women, Peacebird Men, Mini Peace, LED’IN, Peacebird Home, Petit Avril, Coppolella and Material Girl. In particular, Peacebird Women managed to catch Gen-Z consumers’ attention by leveraging the success of feminist values among young Chinese women: in 2020, the brand launched a Mulan collection encouraging women to break traditional rules just like the character Hua Mulan, while in 2021, Peacebird slogan exhorted girls to be themselves. Moreover, in order to intercept Chinese young consumers, the Ningbo-based company collaborated with several KOLs, reduced the time lapse between new launches, employed nostalgia marketing techniques and labeled customers as “PB girls”, thus fostering their sense of community.
What brands can learn from new trends in China’s down jacket market
- Currently Chinese consumers’ fever for puffer jackets is reshaping the market. The following five major trends mark down jacket industry in China.
- Nowadays Chinese shoppers look for higher quality clothing and pay greater attention to stuffing materials and fabrics.
- The consumer base of the puffer outwear industry is broadening, attracting more and more young people. Moreover, Southern Chinese people began to purchase more down jackets as well.
- Down jackets are no longer just about keeping warm, but brands should focus more on original and fashionable clothing in order to catch Gen-Zs’ attention.
- Puffer outwear is slowly climbing from fast fashion to the high-end realm as a result of the greater emphasis on quality and originality, and in a further attempt to target luxury-addicted Chinese Gen-Z consumers.
- Were brands willing to enhance their growth rate, they should focus their efforts on cutting the strong dependence of puffer outwear sales on seasonality. Indeed, most of Chinese consumers declare being willing to purchase down jackets all year.
- Bosideng and Peacebird are two promising Chinese outwear brands. After getting through tough times in the second half of 2010s, Bosideng managed to undergo a deep transformation that boosted the company growth and repositioned it on the market. Peacebird, instead, is attempting to catch Gen-Z women’s attention by conveying feminist messages and leveraging young Chinese people’s nostalgia for the past.