April 12 was not a usual Friday at the Lafayette Art & Design Center in Shanghai’s Huangpu District. The Inside LVMH program culminated in a “discovery day” where 120 aspiring students gathered to interact with top LVMH executives, share fresh ideas for the future of retail, and hopefully find their dream career in one of the world’s top luxury companies.
After the first Inside LVMH in Paris in 2016, the fashion house decided to stage a second edition in China, where they invited Chinese youth to discover the depth and breadth of expertise the company had to offer. “This is to promote our engagement with Chinese youth,” said Andrew Wu, LVMH Group President Greater China. “As our group pioneered direct retail operation of international luxury brands in China from 1992-1993, we have literally been ‘growing up’ with this same young Chinese generation, which is an extraordinary connection.”
On March 4, the fashion house launched a WeChat Mini Program that invited Chinese youth to explore six major business lines like fashion & leather goods and watches & jewelry via the app. In the Mini Program, students were able to listen to LVMH employees talk about their experiences, as well as sign up for the event. “In China, everyone is engaged on WeChat,” explained Eliz Ho, HR Development Director at LVMH China. “Hence, it is very logical and easy for us to connect with our target audience, which is the university students in China.”
Within two weeks, LVMH’s WeChat Mini Program triggered 9,500 registrations, and over 1,500 students shared their writing or video submissions for the brand’s “Client Experience of Tomorrow” talent call. Out of those applications, 200 students from more than 50 universities were selected to join store tours within 20 of the group’s Maisons, including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chaumet, and Sephora, in Shanghai and Beijing on April 1-3. 120 of those students were awarded tickets to the big day on April 12.
Those chosen were greeted with a special challenge. They were divided into 20 teams and coached by LVMH senior executives and HR to imagine an in-store experience that would surprise and delight luxury clients of today and tomorrow. “In China, the luxury consumers are getting younger and younger,” said Ho. “We want Chinese millennials to share with us their views on creating the client experience of tomorrow — how to design new experiences and excite customers differently. Because [the students] are also our customers, so their views are the most relevant to us.”
So what specifically is LVMH looking for with their “Client Experience of Tomorrow”? Andrew Wu used an interesting analogy to explain it. “Luxury retail is like a stage. You can find set-up, lighting, music, costumes and all kinds of cultural elements. When you are a customer, you see the ‘performance’ of products. When you work in retail, you create that performance to touch your audience. Our industry is about emotions, rather than reason.”
After rounds of pitches, a panel that included Wu would vote for the winners. And while LVMH hasn’t disclosed the four winning teams and their ideas yet, what we do know is that LVMH has promised the victors a breakfast session with Andrew Wu and internship opportunities with their desired brands. Those brands also conducted speed interviews during the event, which resulted in as many as 100 internships across 25 brands. These internships covered various functions, from marketing to digital strategies, but they all emphasized luxury retail.
“The LVMH Group has much to offer,” said Anne Laure Despeaux, Employer Branding Director at LVMH. “We welcome young people who are curious, have the entrepreneurial spirit, and dare to make an impact.” And she had a bit of advice for those who aspire to enter the luxury industry as well. “What people often see from the outside is the glamorous side of working in the luxury industry, be it a fashion show or rubbing shoulders with celebrities,” she said. “Inside, it is obviously about hard work. Every day we challenge ourselves, push the boundaries, and deliver extraordinary experiences for our clients.”