The Future of Luxury II: New Pillars of eCommerce


What is the future of eCommerce? How can brands tell inspirational stories in the age of social media? How will new technologies enhance the way we experience luxury?

On May 22, Jing Daily and Sotheby’s are co-hosting “The Future of Luxury II: New Pillars of eCommerce” at Sotheby’s expanded galleries in New York. The half-day event brings together leading thinkers in the world of luxury for an informed, in-depth discussion.

Panel topics will include:
1. Defining Luxury Through Narrative

2. The New Landscape of Luxury: Experiential

3. Licensed Collaborations with Western Luxury Brands

Hear from Sotheby’s, Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, WeDesign.org, Kollective Influence, Kung Fu Data, Cherry Blossoms Marketing Research & Consulting, 2×4, Grailed, Artestar, Brandgenuity and UBM’s Global Licensing Group.

Presented by Jing Daily and Sotheby’s, this exclusive conference follows on from the successful March event in Hong Kong, “The Future of Luxury: e-commerce in Asia”.

Please note, seats are limited. Click here to RSVP.

 

Key information:

Sotheby’s New York

1334 York Avenue New York, NY 10021

Wednesday, May 22, 2019 | 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

 

8:30-9:00am: Breakfast and Registration

9:00-9:15am: Welcoming Remarks from David Goodman & Larry Warsh

9:15-10:00am: Panel 1: Defining Luxury Through Narrative

10:00-10:45am: Panel 2: The New Landscape of Luxury: Experiential

10:45-11:00am: Networking & Coffee Break

11:00-11:45am: Informal Networking

11:45-12:30pm: Panel 3: Licensed Collaborations with Western Luxury Brands

12:30-1:00pm: Closing Remarks & Thank You

 





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China’s Millennial Burnout Culture Wear Luxury Like a ‘Badge’


There is abundant literature these days on what drives Chinese millennial luxury consumption, and most of it focuses on that generation’s affluent parents’ background or the country’s new financial optimism. Reports have also elaborated on millennials’ changing attitude toward luxury, which has shifted from using it as a status symbol to wearing it as a reflection of one’s personality or wielding it as social capital. But less ink has been spilled on the darker side of China’s luxury-craving youth: how they’re buying luxury as a reward for overworking.

Burnout

“996 work schedule explained. Photo: Abacus News

While “millennial burnout” in the West takes many forms, from simply logging too much screen time to the stress that comes from working in the “gig economy,” in China, millennial burnout is all about working brutally long hours. In April, a national debate about the culture of overworking and “996” — a term for the 9 am to 9 pm, six-day-a-week work schedule that’s common among the nation’s young professionals — took the Chinese internet by storm. The topic got especially heated when Jack Ma, the co-founder and chairman of Alibaba, came out in support of burnout culture with a Weibo post stating, “Young people shall view working 996 as their own fortune.” The controversial statement led to a hashtag #马云谈996# (Jack Ma on 996) that quickly reached over 110 million views and 380 thousand comments since April 12th/ over the past one month, and even China’s government mouthpiece, People’s Daily, published a piece on 996 culture that advocated for a greater work-life balance.

Overworked and highly ambitious, many millennials are turning to luxury shopping as a gesture of self-reward or self-care. To better understand this worldview, Jing Daily interviewed three Chinese “996” professionals from tier 1 cities who routinely spend part of their earnings on luxury products.

Nick Zhang, 28, is from Beijing and owns a tech startup. “996 is the schedule for employees,” Zhang said. “For self-starters like me, we work 007 [meaning a non-stop schedule from midnight to midnight, 7 days a week].” Though not a fashionista, Zhang enjoys making luxury wardrobe upgrades. In March alone, he bought 12 Thom Browne shirts and several pairs of shoes from Tod’s. “I am too exhausted every morning to think of my outfit,” he said, “and I know these luxury items would help me save lots of time because they can’t go wrong.”

Maggie Chen, 25, works as a junior editor in a Shenzhen-based media company where she earns around $880 (6000RMB) a month. She recently bought herself a signature Chanel chain bag and three Tom Ford lipsticks. “In the highly competitive media industry, 996 is simply expected from someone inexperienced like me,” she said. “How can I work so hard and not reward myself?” She added that there’s also a lot of pressure to look good among her female colleagues and that she feels like she needs luxury items to be accepted around the office. “I always put aside a certain amount of my salary for luxury, because making myself look better is a worthwhile investment,” said Chen.

Tianxin Luo, 27, works as a financial analyst in the Hong Kong office of one of the world’s top-tier consulting firms. Last month was a milestone for her: She purchased her first Hermès handbag. “I am overjoyed by my first Hermès,” she exclaimed, “because this is the first real luxury I rewarded myself with for working like a machine for two years straight!” She sees Hong Kong’s competitive environment as an exercise that pushes her physical and mental limits. When asked how she feels about the 996 culture, she said, “I think Jack Ma is right. 996 is a fortune to young, ambitious people. [But] if you don’t even have the desire to spend, you won’t be motivated to advance in a career.”

Tianxin’s desire to translate her material goals into professional aspirations is emblematic of young, urban Chinese culture today. And while it’s trendy in the West for millennials to reject the “spend more, earn more” lifestyle, Chinese millennials see it as an inspiring model. In 2018, the popular TV series Women in Beijing, for instance, took this message to an extreme when the protagonist, a Sichuan girl who comes to Beijing for a better life, makes a Louis Vuitton bag her first goal to achieve in her new life.

Burnout

The protagonist of TV series “Women in Beijing” has made an LV Neverfull bag as her laptop background photo. Photo: @WomenInBeijing official Weibo account.

Recent consumer data on the subject confirms that “self-reward” is a crucial factor in Chinese luxury spending. According to Nicole Yang, the CMO of the Chinese luxury e-commerce giant Secoo, nearly 60 percent of the platform’s customers in 2018 were urban working women under 30. The customers in this group often refer to themselves as “delicate piggy girls (精致的猪猪女孩)” — a euphemism for young Chinese women that are clumsy early in life but aspire to become sophisticated. Many of them are new to their careers and work 996 as a way to better themselves.

Burnout

“Beauty is Power” and “My Future is My Own” are two of the six core values among the new generation of Chinese consumers, according to Ogilvy China. Photo: Ogilvy China

Ogilvy China’s 2019 luxury report points out that “Beauty is Power” and “My Future is My Own” are two of the six core values among this Chinese generation Put together, they create a mindset that values a luxury handbag like a badge — one symbolizing “a better me.” To these consumers, this is worth working jobs that are 996 or more. “I know this is tiring,” Tianxin confided, “but having a material goal is a positive thing. It forces me to make more money and go further.” To her and many other Chinese millennials, working grueling hours for luxury rewards is simply a technique that helps them achieve a better life in a highly competitive environment.





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Luisa Via Roma Teams up with Secoo for China Expansion


Marking its 90th anniversary this year, the Italian luxury retailer, Luisa Via Roma, now better known for their e-commerce site than their iconic concept store in Florence, Italy, is ushering in a new era with rapid expansion in China.

Last week, the longtime e-tailer (they began selling via e-commerce channels back in 1999), signed a strategic partnership with China’s top luxury e-commerce site Secoo to sell more than 600 luxury and fashion brands directly on Secoo’s platforms, which includes their official website, mobile app, and several offline experience centers in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xiamen, and Hangzhou.

Per the announcement, Luisa Via Roma will officially debut on Secoo on June 17th with a wide selection of apparel, bags, accessories, luxury home interiors, and beauty at the same price points as on Luisa Via Roma’s own global site, LUISAVIAROMA.com.

Luisa Via Roma has been a pioneer and a firm believer in the power of e-commerce for luxury business. Its e-commerce site, which has become one of the most famous online shopping malls around the world, has also been around longer than most. However, it has decided to follow in the footprints of some of its key rivals, such as YOOX Net-a-Porter and Farfetch, by choosing to collaborate with local Chinese e-commerce players as a way to localize and dive deeper into the massive, complex, and lucrative Chinese market. YOOX Net-a-Porter had previously formed a joint venture with the country’s biggest e-commerce platform, Alibaba, while the luxury portal TopLife was recently acquired by another giant e-tailer, Farfetch, from the e-commerce company JD.com.

Secoo is a natural choice for any luxury e-commerce player that hopes to reach China’s online luxury consumers. The platform has attracted a large, loyal customer base with high-purchasing power, which now stands at around 27 million people. According to a 2018 survey published by the Hong Kong-based consultancy firm OC&C, Secoo was ranked the top-rated domestic e-commerce platform among Chinese respondents.

Moreover, the presence of fake luxury products has been a widespread issue in China, making many luxury brands anxious about doing business with local Chinese companies. Secoo, however, has also made great strides in combating counterfeit luxury goods, offering a service to ensure the authenticity of luxury items sold on by them. This authentication service will cover all Luisa Via Roma sales as well, and under this partnership, the Italian e-tailer will ship products to Secoo’s Milan warehouse for authentication before they are shipped to China.

China’s luxury e-commerce market has great growth potential since the next generation of digitally native customers now rules that market. And now, with the right strategies in place, Luisa Via Roma is poised to carve out an ever-increasing slice of China’s luxury market for itself.





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Suitsupply Fits the Chinese Man Just Right


Nestled along Shanghai’s quiet Anfu road (安福路), Suitsupply’s one-stop shop for luxurious menswear offers everything that the modern Chinese city-dweller could want, from custom suits to evening wear and accessories. While the store revels in the look of the neighborhood’s historic villas — complete with cane chairs, paper lanterns, and bamboo — it’s also full of funky vibes thanks to a collection of irreverent images of well-dressed men and beautiful nude women gracing the walls. The feel is calm and serene, as customers sip tea in the garden while waiting for their suits to be altered by the in-house tailor.

Born in Amsterdam in 2000, Suitsupply brings a new kind of attitude to luxury tailoring in China. All their fabrics are sourced from the world’s most renowned Italian mills, many of which serve top brands like Chanel. Their suits are constructed with floating canvases (a high-end detail typically found only in handmade luxury suits) and refined accents like pleated shoulders and genuine horn buttons. The company’s vast selection of contemporary colors and styles — not to mention their unique stores, which are often housed in converted former churches and loft spaces — make it appealing to younger generations. The brand currently has over 100 stores across 22 countries, including stores in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Hangzhou, and Chengdu.

“Our Chinese customers are very informed, and they appreciate style,” said Fokke de Jong, the CEO of Suitsupply, to Jing Daily in the courtyard of their Amsterdam store. “A lot of people in China have been used to suits made for conformity, suits like uniforms. But our customers see different styles and colors of suits as a way of self-expression. They wear it not only to work but also to go out.”

Fokke de Jong. Courtesy photo

Fokke de Jong. Courtesy photo

How does that make Chinese customers different from their Dutch counterparts? At this, Fokke laughed. “Dutch customers are generally like me: blond hair and blue eyes,” he said. “We can wear blue and maybe grey suits. Because Chinese customers have dark hair and a different complexion, they can wear a much wider palette of colors. Generally, Chinese customers are more fashion-forward. They are willing to experiment more.” Coincidentally, Vicki Jiang, Suitsupply’s Vice President of Asia once shared an anecdote of clients drawing inspiration for custom-made suits from Chinese TV shows.

As to Suitsupply’s marketing approach in China, Fokke referred simply to “word of mouth,” and he believes that “happy customers tell each other.” However, there is more to the brand’s appeal than the product. The Shanghai store is a trendy place where men can hang out thanks to a variety of events at the shop, including hair salons, a styling workshop, and a gin pop-up bar. In 2016, Suitsupply even organized some performance art by having over 20 men in suits ride bikes through Shanghai’s alleyways to arrive at the city’s Fashion Week.

But Suitsupply has also courted some controversy with their outside-the-box ways. With their ads of men in well-cut suits diving into pools with naked mermaids and miniature men in suits sliding down a model’s giant bare breast, Suitsupply now has reputation for its somewhat “shameless” approach, and its Chinese stores are covered with these eye-catching campaign images. “Not everybody likes it! If a brand says ‘don’t just fit in’, it cannot please everybody,” said Fokke. “But young Chinese customers find it interesting and funny.” On Dianping, China’s largest customer review website, customers clearly aren’t shy about sharing pics of the bawdy images from their Suitsupply shopping trips.

Suitsupply Shanghai Mansion. Courtesy photo

Suitsupply Shanghai Mansion. Courtesy photo

But truthfully, it’s the shopping experience at Suitsupply; compared to those at more pretentious or serious suit stores, that’s the difference-maker for them. “We bring fun to menswear and make it less intimidating,” Fokke said. One of their customers agreed, saying, “They’ll look after you, talk to you, teach you how to dress well, and you have fun along the way.” In particular, he enjoyed learning things like how to fold a pocket square and the mysterious rule about not wearing a blue suit after 6 pm.

“There is someone there who is genuinely willing to help and engage with you. It is not just to bluntly hand you the size,” Fokke said. “On the other hand, we want to make it fast and effective…. We have tailors who do all alterations on the spot to make sure customers leave with a perfect fit.” And in fact, a man who stops into the Suitsupply store in Schiphol airport’s departure lounge can literally have a pair of pants fitted while he waits for his plane.

After running his menswear business in China for over six years, Fokke refuted the conventional notion that doing business in China is necessarily difficult. “I find people there very welcoming, pragmatic, and entrepreneurial, which actually makes it easier to do business in China,” he said. “In 2019, we plan to roll out five to eight stores in Chongqing, Shenzhen, Shenyang, etc. Wherever we can, we try to find special locations. It all comes back to our mantra: ‘Don’t just fit in, find your own perfect fit’.”





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Why China is a Crystal Ball Showing us the Future of Luxury


Luxury brand CEOs of every type, from technology and hospitality to fashion, all seem to agree on one thing: China is at the top of their agendas, and not just because of the size of the market. China provides a window into the future of luxury markets. In other words, the global luxury market in the future will eventually look like today’s modern Chinese market. So to win in China is to position your company quite well for years to come.

Why is this? China is now the youngest global luxury market. Around 80 percent of their luxury goods are purchased by consumers below the age of 40 (Millennials and Generation-Zers) compared to only about 45 percent across the rest of the globe. These consumers are better educated than previous generations, are digitally native, and grew up without any financial worry or constraints. And consumers there, especially in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities, have a significant disposable income and inherit their wealth much earlier.

Because of their youth and digital lifestyles, luxury brands cannot rely on strategies that were developed for older markets, and in many ways, the China market is more open to disruption and new technologies than older markets. What we see there is a blueprint for what we can expect to experience in Europe and the U.S. a few years down the road. But what are these young Chinese consumers looking for? Surprisingly, they honestly prefer originality and authenticity — they don’t want brands that get complacent, copy others, or lag behind. They want brands that lead.

Let’s look at the luxury automobile industry as an example. One successful luxury entrepreneur from China in his early 20s recently said that he wouldn’t even consider a traditional luxury car brand like Mercedes-Benz, Audi, or BMW anymore, as he felt those brands were stuck in the past and were no longer innovative or technically credible. He wondered aloud why they were so reluctant to adapt to electric and self-driving technologies and why their electric cars weren’t the best in terms of acceleration and range. To him, most traditional luxury car brands were not inspiring anymore, and he said he would only buy a new car that felt innovative and future-oriented.

It’s clear that drastically different thinking and decisive change is needed to appeal to young, urban, and wealthy Chinese consumers, and for incumbent luxury brands, the time to act is now. Following the lead of smarter companies won’t be enough. New electric premium and luxury car brands like Tesla, Nio, Arcfox, Byton, Lagonda, and Pininfarina realize that they have a significant opportunity right now.

But there is an additional threat to traditional luxury brands that comes from outsiders: brands that have excellent products and customer experiences from other categories like Apple and Dyson. There have been persistent rumors that Apple is preparing an electric car launch. Apple’s expertise in creating an integrated platform around the user and their proven ability to merge design, user interface, technology, and media content remains practically unmatched. An Apple car could possibly threaten the position of legacy brands by accelerating the disruption in the premium and luxury car market.

Meanwhile, Dyson, a maker of high-end vacuum cleaners, already proved their ability to successfully disrupt entire categories, and they’ve announced that they’ll launch several electric cars within the next few years — something that should worry traditional car brands. Dyson already said China will be a key market for them, and that they’ll sell their cars at existing stores in China.

But traditional luxury carmakers have also been hurting themselves. They’ve relied too much on their products and have neglected the luxury brand buying experience. At showrooms and dealerships today, only new brands are credibly delivering true luxury experiences to customers; brands like Genesis and Nio, both of which stand out in the luxury experience-creation category thus far. Remarkably, no traditional luxury car brand has a convincing dealership experience these days. Some incumbent luxury brand experiences are not significantly different from those of mass-market brands, and they’re sometimes even below mass-market standards. This will not be enough to compete in the future, especially for discerning Chinese consumers that move on fast when they’re not convinced.

Young Chinese luxury consumers have expectations and a level of sophistication that exceeds any previous generation in that country. They work long hours and have significant commutes, so acquiring unique luxury experiences provides an escape from the stress of their daily lives. Anyone that has visited any luxury mall in Shanghai, Beijing, or Guangzhou can confirm that the quality, product displays, and in-store experiences exceed almost any other destination in the world. Why? Because young Chinese luxury consumers are highly educated, digitally native, and come with bigger expectations.

Brands have to act fast in order to survive — much less lead — in China. New approaches to the traditional in-store experience are needed in order to offer consumers there a seamless and integrated digital journey. The aim is to create a branded, end-to-end luxury experience that is distinct across all touchpoints. Thinking needs to shift in a radical way so as to make the consumer the center of all activities. This requires real-time consumer insight generation and processing — a major weakness for most luxury brands today. But data means nothing if it is not rigorously applied to outstanding consumer experiences. And last not least, luxury brands have to become more innovative, dare more, and look to disrupt instead of getting disrupted. Chinese consumers expect this from them, and soon enough, global luxury consumers everywhere will have the same expectations.

 

Daniel Langer is CEO of the luxury, lifestyle and consumer brand strategy firm Équité. He consults some of the leading luxury brands in the world, is the author of several luxury management books, a regular keynote speaker, and holds management seminars in Europe, the USA, and Asia. Follow @drlanger





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Exclusive: Burberry Plays Cupid on China’s Love Day


In the West, May 20th might be just another day, but in China, 520 marks the country’s unofficial second Valentine’s Day. The day was originally created by China’s loved-up millennials — for whom one Love Day wasn’t enough — and who determined that the numbers “520” (pronounced wǔ èr yī in Chinese), sounded similar to the phrase for “I love you” (said wǒ ài nǐ). Whatever the reason for its inception, for luxury brands targeting the Chinese market, 520 is an opportunity for a second shot at tempting shoppers with love-led campaigns.

Today, British fashion giant Burberry is leading the pack with the launch of its 520 WeChat Mini Program, providing an exciting and engaging digital social commerce experience to appeal to luxury consumers in China. The program enables customers to buy gifts for their friends and family, write a personal Love Day note, and send it to them — all within the parameters of WeChat’s Mini Program platform. The recipient then receives the personal Love Day message displaying the gift, and is asked to insert their address and details for the package to be delivered. This personalized experience gives users the opportunity to send any Burberry gift to any recipient, whilst only needing their WeChat username.

“Our latest WeChat Mini Program is a great example of how we continue to excite our consumers through digital innovation and help them celebrate meaningful moments,” says Josie Zhang, Vice President of Burberry in China. “For 520 Love Day, we are giving our Chinese customers the opportunity to mark the occasion with a bespoke social commerce gifting experience from Burberry, all in WeChat. Receiving a personal note with an unexpected gift from someone special is such a wonderful treat and we are delighted to offer this exclusively to our Chinese customers.”

Burberry's 520 Love Day campaign on WeChat. Courtesy photo

Burberry’s 520 Love Day campaign on WeChat. Courtesy photo

Burberry’s first venture into the world of WeChat came in August 2018, in honor of Chinese Valentine’s Day — or Qixi — that falls on the seventh day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar. The Mini Program encouraged followers to participate in a game with their partners, based on discovering different types of relationships. Completing the game gave the user access to shop Burberry’s latest collection, including two new Qixi bags exclusive to China.

However, Burberry’s successful foray into WeChat advertising was somewhat soured by the release of their Chinese New Year WeChat campaign in January of this year. Burberry was accused of not understanding the importance of Chinese Lunar New Year, after receiving online backlash over its “creepy” family portraits. The brand later quietly removed the controversial images from its WeChat campaign.

So, will the fashion giant’s latest attempt be enough for Chinese consumers to fall back in love with Burberry? It seems possible — but by no means certain. China’s online netizens have been resilient in the past, vowing to boycott brands like Dolce & Gabbana, who have been accused of disrespecting and trivializing China’s centuries-old culture.

Next Thursday, May 16th, sees the release of Burberry’s preliminary earnings for the last quarter, and all eyes will be on the brand to see if the Lunar New Year blunder has had an effect on sales. In its previous earnings release on January 23, Burberry noted that its sales were boosted by the increased frequency of product drops and social media campaigns. The company added a total of one million new followers in the quarter across Instagram and WeChat. In particular, Burberry saw a 50-percent increase in reach on WeChat. Things are looking up.





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Luxury Brands Inspire “Mom-me” Fashion on Mother’s Day


Mother’s Day falls on Sunday, May 12th. It’s an occasion where children around the world honor their mother’s efforts and love with gifts of thanks. For many young Chinese consumers, their mother is usually the first fashion influencer in their lives — what they wore created a youngster’s first impression regarding fashion and luxury (and we are talking about the pre-social media/self-made fashion bloggers era). It’s only right that luxury brands would join the conversation. This year, we’ve noticed brands offering a diverse range of items — in categories and styles — to make sure there are enough goodies for mom. And smartly, they’ve also linked to e-commerce mobile sits for a speedy checkout. Below are how some luxury brands have interpreted the ‘mom-me’ theme on WeChat to cater to Chinese consumers.

Photo: Burberry WeChat.

Photo: Burberry WeChat.

Burberry: My best friend
Titled “My best friend, my mom,” Burberry featured a short video of the Italian supermodel Mariacarla Boscono and her kids, which many readers liked, commenting: “MCB queen,” “MCB is so beautiful.” The post highlighted a mom and kids style wallet in the logo B print, a mom’s silk scarf, and multiple bags and jewelry. Some also noted the elegant floral print and vintage color. The campaign attracted overwhelmingly positive responses: within four days, TB chain leather bags — $1,832 (12,500 RMB) — have sold out, and earring sets of — $586 (4,000 RMB) —were also almost sold out.

Photo: Cartier WeChat.

Photo: Cartier WeChat.

Cartier: To be her best friend for a day
We spotted a few other brands also using the ‘best friend’ theme, but Cartier stood out with a heartfelt post — “To be her best friends for a day,” featuring Guirlande de Cartier bag in black at the top of the post. The brand also offered a list of products from watches, jewelry, sunglasses, and scarfs. The post attracted 57,000 pageviews and more than 122 likes.

Photo: Gucci WeChat.

Photo: Gucci WeChat.

Gucci: When my mom is 19
Gucci understands the ever-repetitive cycle of fashion with its distinct vintage styles by posting an imaginary piece titled “When mom is 19” that garnered 100,000 page views and 400 likes within a week. The piece presents snapshots of different mom styles by zooming on their hands, bags, and food. The effect is obvious, but several netizens comment that they like the jewelry from the picture.

Photo: Louis Vuitton WeChat.

Photo: Louis Vuitton WeChat.

Louis Vuitton: She is weirdly beautiful
With an eye-catching title “She is weird, weirdly beautiful,” Louis Vuitton suggested a new collection to for mothers. The post featured the Monogram Giant Collection, the latest collection with magnified LV initials and star-shaped flowers of the Monogram Giant motif. Products ranged from Speedy Bandoulière 30 handbags priced at $1910 to an oversize key case at $365. The post attracted 100,000 page views and more than 494 likes within five days of posting.

Photo: Hermès/WeChat

Photo: Hermès scarf/WeChat

Hermès: An orange something
For Mother’s Day, Hermès had a minimal post to pique readers’ interests, including a moving orange heart with a title of “here is a little something in orange,” readers can directly click to the e-commerce site, which is a colorful surprise — it organized gift options by four colors (red, orange, blue, and pink), which may come in handy when selecting just the right color for your mother. Also, they offered a cup for $169 (1,150RMB) and a Kelly wallet for $16,852 (RMB115,000). The post attracted 36,000 pageviews and 106 people liked it.





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Chinese Whispers: Wanda and Tencent Debuts the Future of Retail in Beijing, and More


In “Chinese Whispers,” we share the biggest news stories about the luxury industry in China that have yet to make it into the English language.

In this week’s edition, we discuss:

  • The first “smart retail” shopping mall, co-developed by Tencent and Wanda
  • Victoria’s Secret’s standalone e-commerce store on Alibaba Tmall
  • Secoo’s new partnership with fine dining chain Ce La Vi

1. Chinese corporate giants Wanda and Tencent co-launch a smart retail mall – 36Kr

It’s been the consensus among retail innovators around the world that the future of shopping malls rests on developers’ ability to use the latest digital technologies like artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and AR/VR to offer shoppers a new interactive experience. As leaders in their respective fields, Wanda and Tencent gave the world a sneak peek at the future malls this past week.

On May 8, the Chinese real estate developer and the country’s internet giant debuted the first “smart retail” shopping mall (still in its pilot phase) at Beijing’s Fengtai Science Park. According to Wanda Group, the new mall offers a “digitalized” experience to visitors by utilizing Tencent’s big data, digital devices, and intellectual properties. Some of the futuristic installations include a VR-powered gaming zone, holographic ads, and a facial recognition payment system. Wang Jianlin, Chairman of Wanda Group, and Pony Ma, Chairman and CEO of Tencent Holdings, paid a visit to the new mall together last week, which garnered much public interest.

Victoria's Secret is betting big on the beauty business to grow in the Chinese market. Photo: Shutterstock

Victoria’s Secret is betting big on the beauty business to grow in the Chinese market. Photo: Shutterstock

2. Lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret opens a dedicated flagship store on Alibaba to sell beauty – Winsang

The lingerie, womenswear, and beauty product company Victoria’s Secret has experienced a rocky start to its expansion into the Chinese market ever since 2017 when it hosted a large-scale fashion runway show in Shanghai that caused some political controversy. Since the growth of the brand’s lingerie business remains weak in China, it has started to bet big on its beauty products there.

On May 8, Victoria’s Secret opened a standalone e-commerce store on Alibaba’s B2C marketplace, Tmall, where their full-line of beauty products, which range from perfumes & fragrance to body lotions and cosmetics, can now be found.

Chinese luxury e-commerce platform Secoo signed a strategic partnership with the fine dining company Ce La Vi. Photo: Secoo

Chinese luxury e-commerce platform Secoo signed a strategic partnership with the fine dining company Ce La Vi. Photo: Secoo

3. China’s luxury e-tailer Secoo forms a partnership with the fine dining company Ce La Vi Secoo

China’s largest luxury e-commerce platform, Secoo, signed a strategic partnership with Ce La Vi, a fine dining company in Asia. Ce La Vi, which has opened stores in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, and other large markets in the region is planning to take its business to mainland China in 2019. With this Secoo partnership, the company will now be able to access the platform’s more than 270 million high-end Chinese customers.





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How Luxury Brands Take Chinese Consumers Cruising in New York


It’s that time of year, the inter-season between the twice-yearly fashion collections, commonly known as cruise wear, which was originally designed for jet-setters’ vacationing or going on cruises in the depth of winter. Now, however, it’s evolved into a somewhat competitive sport for fashion brands to present commercially-accessible pieces in exotic locations, with over-the-top experiences. This year, Dior showed at a historic palace in Marrakech, Morocco, Chanel at Paris’ Grand Palais, and both Prada and Louis Vuitton chose to show in New York, amid the topic-worthy (and perhaps overexposed) MET Gala.

Given this, the Chinese consumer, which accounts for 30 percent of all luxury goods purchased worldwide, has eagerly taken to these extravagant cruise wear shows, as to them, they represent the ultimate branded experience. Think millions of people drooling over their phone screens, wishing to be there in person, and creating tons of online buzz for fashion brands. Here is how Prada and Louis Vuitton “took” online Chinese consumers cruising this season.

For Prada, it was the words of Miuccia Prada that set the tone for their show this year — “A protest against too much.” Prada created a pink dreamland at their US headquarters, which overlooks the Hudson River. It had a refreshing, intimate atmosphere, with pink color spilling all over the minimalistic space, as if to cleanse the fast-paced fashion state of mind, reminiscing about a past when fashion felt far more simple.

Prada Resort 2020 showspace. Courtesy photo.

Prada Resort 2020 show space. Courtesy photo.

But did this message came across to Chinese netizens? The event harvested a total of 34 million views on Weibo with divided comments, some appreciated the thoughtfulness, “back to the basics is the highest state of being,” commented Weibo user, Jiachi under Prada’s post. While Kola is a cat addressed the elephant in the room, “It seems like not many people like Prada anymore.”

Korean star Song Hye-Kyo.

Korean star Song Hye-Kyo.

Meanwhile, gogoboi, one of the most popular fashion bloggers in China, wrote a piece speaking highly of the designer’s bold choice in clothing, saying the 70-year-old “grandma” often wears show pieces but still looks better than the runway show models. Vogue China granted that those who understand Prada’s brand message have a high “beauty IQ,” referring to the level of understanding and appreciation of good aesthetics. But it seems like the general public is still fixated on Korean drama star — who attended the show — Song Hye-Kyo’s smokey makeup, the hashtag (#宋慧乔烟熏妆#) was discussed more than 57,000 times.

Bird's eye of the space. Photo: Louis Vuttion

Bird’s eye of the space. Photo: Louis Vuttion

A week after Prada’s cruise show, Louis Vuitton put on an extravagant affair — most certainly the opposite of simplicity. Presented at the newly remodeled, iconic TWA Flight Center at the John F. Kennedy International airport (which hasn’t yet opened to the public yet). The stark white interior was transformed into a luscious urban jungle. And setting the show in the airport, complete with an immense overhead flight display board, aced the travel theme, but some netizens question some of the cruise wear pieces, especially on how commercially accessible they were.

An intricate top from Nicolas Ghesquière's latest Louis Vuitton collection resented at the TWA Flight Center in New York.

An intricate top from Nicolas Ghesquière’s latest Louis Vuitton collection resented at the TWA Flight Center in New York.

Blogger “Fashion model,” who has 9 million followers on Weibo, commented, “Compare to other brands, LV’s cruise collection doesn’t give out the vacation vibe, more like group gang, models are like female killers.” Below the post, user DontActlikeaPapio asked, “Will any celebrity wear the hat?” And Wankuashenshi shared, “I feel like LV’s bag is always the protagonist, and the ready-to-wear is the sidekicks.” Some expressed their admiration and commented that the style is good for tough girls. As if to avoid talking about the uneasiness of the pieces, Vogue China published a piece that praised the utility and value of an LV bag, which garnered over 26,000 pageviews on WeChat. Both gogoboi and Mr.Bags also gave the reader a behind-the-scenes of their New York travel experiences (in LV product, of course), including a Brooklyn graffiti tour, an intimate brand dinner under the Brooklyn bridge, creating more soft social buzz to the show. The gift bag for attendees (as shown in a gogoboi’s short video) had a travel book featuring New York, and tags documenting all cruise shows since 2014 in Monaco, leaving the guest wondering what the next destination is, or to show off.





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What a Heightened Trade War with China Would Do to US Tourism


Shortly after President Trump threatened to escalate the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, analysts began calculating the repercussions for America’s auto and agriculture industries. Yet the impact on America’s tourism industry could be equally damaging.

Deteriorating relations between the world’s two largest economies have already affected a U.S. tourism sector that’s seen its growth flatline for the first time in 10 years. And while only three percent of the 80 million visitors to the U.S. in 2018 were Chinese, the potential for that segment’s growth remains immense; a mere six percent of Chinese citizens hold passports, and experts predict the number of outbound Chinese tourists will reach 220 million by 2025. America could miss out — bigly.

Meanwhile, another industry that could take a major hit is the U.S. luxury market. Bain estimates Chinese shoppers will constitute 46 percent of global luxury sales by 2024, a number that’s, in part, driven by high-spending overseas visits. If — or when — Chinese outbound travel to the U.S. is further curtailed, these transactions will simply be rerouted to other shopping capitals like Milan or Tokyo. This situation could materialize either through overt Chinese government action, such as punitive taxes or bureaucratic roadblocks, or a continued shift in the Chinese consumer mindset, although separating the political from the social is a difficult endeavor.

China has weaponized its multi-billion-dollar outbound tourist sector before. In 2017, it banned tour groups from South Korea following a dispute over the country’s deployment of an American missile system. The ban led to a 48 percent drop in mainland visitors and is believed to have cost the South Korean economy $6.8 billion. Beijing adopted a similar stance in relation to Palau over its refusal to abandon diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Ultimately, drastic action of this kind remains unlikely, but the possibility of Chinese tourists choosing alternative destinations for nationalist reasons shouldn’t be underestimated. And, unlike many industries that would be threatened by an extended trade war, U.S. tourism would feel the impact very quickly. Businesses are bound by supply chains and therefore plan on a medium-to-long-term basis, but a traveler can change their vacation spot instantly, often at the click of a button.

With 15.7 million U.S. jobs supported both directly and indirectly by travel spending, a continued or escalated trade war and its impact upon Chinese travelers would certainly ensure losses to more than just Midwestern soybean farmers and auto manufacturers.

 

This post originally appeared on Jing Travel, our sister site. 





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