Sébastien Badault (Alibaba France): “For Chinese consumers, there is no antagonism between luxury and e-commerce”

While 40% of the world’s luxury purchases are made by Chinese people, according to a study published in 2019 by McKinsey, the growth of this market in the country is mainly driven by the sale of high-end products such as women’s clothing, jewellery, cosmetics, shoes and handbags. But the cars are not overlooked: for example, during the memorable launch in 2016 of Maserati on Tmall, belonging to the Alibaba group, the 100 vehicles put on sale for the occasion were sold in just 18 seconds! For almost four years, Sébastien Badault has been at the head of Alibaba France. After spending five years, at the beginning of his career, at Amazon as Business Development Manager in the United Kingdom, Germany and France, he then held the position of Key Account Manager at Google. For more than 15 years, this visionary man has led the companies that drive our digital world, between GAFAM and BATX. Interview about Alibaba and more broadly the Chinese, local and international luxury goods markets.

Interview by Claire Domergue

It is difficult for luxury brands to launch their own e-commerce sites in China, which is why many of them use platforms such as Alibaba. Can you explain their motivations?

Since mobile is the preferred shopping channel in China, if a brand wants to launch its own e-commerce site, it must develop a mobile application, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Tmall is already a major destination for Chinese consumers for mobile shopping. It is easy for the consumer to find what he is looking for, and he knows that with a single ID he will have access to all our platforms and will be able to pay with his Alipay account. He is therefore reassured at the time of purchase.

There is a real demand in China for premium products from European brands. However, barriers of language, consumer knowledge, logistics and operational costs, among others, exist. Alibaba allows brands to overcome these problems through a comprehensive offer that has been designed with their needs in mind. As privileged partners of luxury brands wishing to penetrate the Chinese market, we provide them with our skills and network to support them in their operations, translation, design, website and marketing management, for example. […]

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