VF teams up with Tmall to bolster product offering in Chinese market


VF Corporation has partnered with Tmall’s Innovation Center (TMIC) to up its offering in the Chinese market through the use of consumer insights and analytics.

The collaboration is aiming to give the retail group behind brands including The North Face, Vans and Timberland, access to Alibaba-owned Tmall’s 654 million-strong customer database.

The goal is to identify customer trends faster, build customer data profiles, track products to judge how well they’re selling and design new lines tailored specifically to Chinese consumers.

Other brands within VF, including Kipling and Dickies, have already made use of the insights. Kipling launched a new backpack following consumer testing, which resulted in it becoming a top-seller among all items debuted by the brand this year.

Dickies meanwhile is making use of chatrooms within the Tmall app to conduct focus group discussions and have users share photos of how they style their items. The results are helping the brand design a new clothing line appealing to Chinese street style.

Any product that launches out of TMIC will be sold exclusively on Alibaba for a period of time.

Alibaba is using Tmall’s Innovation Center to lure western brands interested in the Chinese market. With no private-label products (like Amazon’s), brands don’t need to worry about Alibaba’s customer database being used to undercut their sales on the platform in the same way.

VF is the first fashion company to collaborate with TMIC, but other brands like L’Oréal, Unilever, and Mattel have also worked with the company on product development. Last fall, Alibaba partnered with 10 global market research powerhouses such as Nielsen, Euromonitor International, Ipsos, AdMaster and GFK, to broaden TMIC’s reach.

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