Online luxury retailer Mytheresa eyes China expansion with tailored shopping experience for wealthy consumers

Jack Lau
·3-min read

Online luxury retailer Mytheresa aims to grow its brand in China by localising its sales platform and social media presence, according to the company’s chief executive officer.

The firm, based in Munich, Germany, has hired people who grew up and were educated in China to understand the behaviour of Chinese consumers and tailor its online retail platform, said Michael Kliger in a video interview.

Upping its marketing efforts is the crux of its strategy to expand in China’s highly competitive luxury goods market.

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“If you are a luxury fan, [the key is] to be as attuned as possible to local shopping behaviour, to the local festivals, to the local way of how to browse, the local way of how to inform yourselves,” he said.

Mytheresa had just over half a million customers in 133 countries as of September 30 last year, and recorded 449.5 million (US$543.9 million) in net sales in the financial year ended June 30.

MYT Netherlands Parent BV, the parent of Mytheresa Group, debuted on the New York Stock Exchange on January 21 and raised US$406.8 million in its IPO.

Kliger said Mytheresa has a “curated offer”, meaning it sells only a small selection of products as opposed to a wide range of goods. It has only partnered with about 250 brands, including Alexander McQueen, Dries van Noten, Saint Laurent and Valentino.

The company’s business model of directly sourcing products from European manufacturers and offering limited-edition collections only available through Mytheresa is a draw for Chinese luxury buyers, who value authenticity and gives the retailer an edge over its competitors.

For Mytheresa, adapting the platform for China meant managing accounts on Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo, WeChat and Xiaohongshu, also known as “Little Red Book”.

Mytheresa’s Chinese-language website allows transactions through local e-payment services such as WeChat Pay, Alipay and Union Pay.

For its top customers, the online retailer provides Mandarin-speaking personal shoppers who act as their assistants.

Only a quarter of Mytheresa’s business comes from the Asia-Pacific region, Kliger said. Mytheresa’s market share in China remained small, but it was an important market nonetheless.

“It is a region where [in] the last decades so much wealth was created, and also it is a region where there is a true appreciation for true luxury products, the craftsmanship, the European heritage,” said Kliger.

China’s high-end consumer market is worth 1.53 trillion yuan (US$236.6 billion), with just over a quarter of that spent on traditional luxury goods such as clothing, jewellery, make-up, watches and bags, according to the Hurun China Luxury Consumer Survey 2021 published on Thursday.

Behind cars, watches, jewellery, clothes and accessories were the top four luxury goods wealthy Chinese consumers planned to purchase in the next three years, the report said.

Kliger said Asian consumers of luxury goods tend to be younger than their European counterparts.

“At a younger age, [they] are interested, willing to spend their discretionary income on luxury goods,” he said.

Kliger said Mytheresa’s objective of increasing brand awareness in China would be partially funded by its IPO proceeds after paying off a shareholder loan of US$207 million related to the bankruptcy of its former parent company, Neiman Marcus, in 2020.

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