hermes in China

Branding: Chinese luxury watch market

Branding: Chinese luxury watch market

The Chinese luxury watch market is facing many issues when coming to branding and naming strategy.

As most occidental companies are now realizing, naming is crucial when it comes to the Chinese market. Indeed, Chinese speakers will have a hard time memorizing and pronouncing the English name of brands or of products. If the firm doesn’t step up and settle for an official Chinese name following a strict Branding strategy process, then the customers will do it instead.

Branding strategy of Hublot in China

We have the example of Hublot, which was known as ‘恒宝’ (Heng Bao, permanent treasure) in China: A few years ago, the firm chose ‘宇舶’ (Yu Bo, phonetic transcription) as their official transcribed name. However, most people still refer to the brand using its previous name: it may be because of the translation that made more sense and was somehow more elegant, or just because the previous name was already deeply imprinted into the consumers’ mind, making it difficult for them to put a new name on the brand. Either way, the results are clear: when it’s not Heng Bao, it’s Hublot ; but very few people use the official transcribed name when searching for the brand…

Branding China Hublot name in China

Naming is crucial on Chinese luxury watch market

On the contrary, when naming is well-done, it can have a real impact on the sales of one product. Let’s take for example Omega’s bestselling luxury watch in China: the De Ville model. Its Chinese translation is 蝶飞 (Die Fei) which means flying butterfly, an elegant and easy-to-remember name for the Chinese clientele. This might just explain its enormous success in China, as shown in the graph below:

Chinese luxury watch market

As opposed to the most loved De Ville, Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual Submariner green-dial version has been given the name of “green water monster” (绿水鬼, Lu Shui Gui) on the Chinese luxury watch market, while the black dial version was called “black water monster” (黑水鬼 Hei Shui Gui). Not the most elegant name indeed, but Rolex decided not to confuse people like Hublot had done by choosing a new official name, and made it their official transcription.

This shows how important naming is for an occidental firm that wants to expand in the Chinese luxury watch market: whether it be the branding strategy, or the products’ name, it does make a difference in the company’s image for the local audience.

To learn more on luxury brands in China