During the pandemic, trade shows worldwide turned digital so companies could continue selling. As businesses normalise operations, trade shows are once again welcoming visitors into physical locations, such as one of the largest annual gatherings for the horology industry, Watch and Wonders, taking place in Geneva recently. 

In fact, Watches and Wonders 2023 took a hybrid approach with organiser, Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie collaborating with China’s largest e-commerce platform, Alibaba Group, to reach Chinese consumers digitally.  

Alibaba’s online marketplace Tmall created a 3D space on its app during the trade show, where consumers could virtually try on the latest models. Brands that showcased their timepieces on the app included Cartier, Mont Blanc and Piaget.

Ten luxury watch brands launched over 40 timepieces on Tmall’s high-end shopping site, called Tmall Luxury Pavilion, just in time for Watches and Wonders.

“The excitement and the exclusivity of the event was recreated on Tmall Luxury Pavilion thanks to an innovative 3D format, giving users in China the opportunity to live an immersive experience,” Tmall Luxury Pavilion head, Janet Wang said.

Digital natives under 28 years represent the fastest-growing cohort on Tmall Luxury Pavilion and make up nearly four in 10 (40%) purchases on the platform. These Generation Z shoppers embrace interacting with short videos, livestreaming and social media compared with other generations.

“For international brands looking to penetrate the Chinese market, the key is to understand how this segment discovers and consumes luxury,” Tmall head of fashion and luxury for France, Switzerland and Germany, Nicolas Cano said.