Is Kering Putting All Its Eggs in a Gucci Basket?

Today Kering is the luxury-group king, racking up extraordinary corporate growth with an indisputable star brand: Gucci. And with a laser-focus on a key market: China.

Despite the thorny €1.4-billion ($1.578 billion) tax evasion probe into Kering in Italy, the exit of its sustainability flagship brand Stella McCartney, its lost opportunity with Yoox (Kering signed a joint venture with Yoox but missed out when competitor Richemont acquired it), Kering has shown tremendous ability in the creation of fashion “phenomenon.”

The powerhouse Lyst Report last week acknowledged, yet again, Gucci as the world’s hottest label — and it’s carrying the company as a whole. Gucci represented 57 percent of the Kering Group Luxury Activities in 2017, with Yves Saint Laurent coming in second place with 14 percent and Bottega Veneta following with 11 percent. But the marketing costs of keeping Gucci, well, Gucci are secret. What isn’t hidden is its strategy: Gucci is focused on China.

To be fair, many rival luxury brands and groups pushing strenuous double-digit growth have focused obsessively on Chinese shoppers, outbound and otherwise. That mania remade the industry. Las Vegas boomed. Galeries Lafayette opened a Chinese restaurant in its Paris premises to lure the Chinese customers eager to savor their own mother country cuisine abroad. Other department stores went further in organizing impeccable logistics for personal shipments to China. It seemed like all the luxury stores outside China hired Mandarin-speaking sales assistants. Tour guides specialized in outlet trips from Florence to Tokyo to the Strip.

But Gucci was the leading brand of this trend. Earlier than rivals, it developed a very effective strategy in China, a smart mix of WeChat mini-program activities, partnerships with Chinese influencers and viral advertising campaigns. The results have been celebrated by the press — and at the stock exchange. But the latter has started to cool down that excitement.

Berenberg Equity Analysts told Reuters, of Kering’s results: “Despite its impressive H1 (2018) performance, with operating profit and free cash flow increasing by around 53 percent and around 65 percent year-on-year, respectively, the small organic miss at Gucci (40 percent versus previous quarter 49 percent) has attracted all the attention.”

While Kering has clearly focused on Gucci’s potential, many insiders have started questioning for how long this phenomenon will last and what will be the next chapter for the group.

Initially, under the management of Marco Bizzarri another Kering player had boomed —  Bottega — and then rapidly busted when the CEO appointed by Bizzarri didn’t successfully manage further brand development.

Meanwhile, Saint Laurent seems to have reached its tipping point and will have to face the competition of a Hedi Slimane comeback at Celine. Demna Gvasalia Balenciaga risks the same fate as the brand he founded before, Vetements. An haute-couture brand turned to big sneakers and fast trends will have trouble keeping high a level of interest among the youngest generations that are more invested in trends than in brands themselves.

Clearly, some clouds are gathering on Kering’s sky and they raise tough questions:

  • Will Alessandro Michele’s style at Gucci continue to be appealing to the new, young, generations of Chinese customers? Will he be able to evolve the brand instead of keeping it in his visionary loop? Or, will he rather be stuck in his own, monolithic vision of the world?
  • Has Gucci reached a saturation point? How sustainable is such a stellar growth compared to competitors such as Vuitton and Chanel?
  • Is it efficient to focus the revenue growth on China mostly? Apparently, Vuitton learned so well the lesson of the ’90s when it risked bankruptcy because of the economic troubles of its key market, Japan. What about Gucci?
  • What is the medium-term brand impact of pushing the revenues fast and furious? Will the fixed costs of such a gigantic fashion machine be sustainable even with slower growth?
  • Has the growth of Gucci absorbed all the energies of the Group? Does Kering risk a burnout?
  • And, is it possible to be successful forever?

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Year of the Pig: What to Expect from the Chinese Luxury Market?

This week Bloomberg asked in a headline: “How Bad Is China’s Economic Slowdown?” Their answer: “It Depends What You Sell.” Much has been written about China’s economic downturn, and dramatic sales numbers like those of Apple seem to indicate that the boom in China is over. But is it?

First, the Chinese economy is still growing at a rate above 5 percent. While slower than in the past, it is still an impressive number that other economies envy. Second, there are about 200 million additional Chinese Generation-Z consumers about to enter the market over the next several years. This is just shy of two-thirds of the number of total U.S. consumers coming into the market, with their wallets ready to spend, promising significant growth. Third, luxury is more recession-proof than all other segments: In 2007-08, during the collapse of financial markets, luxury was the only consumer segment that was not negative, outperforming fast-moving consumer goods and premium segments. Hence, the outlook is much more positive than many analysts are stating.

The prospect of an industry is not driven by external economic factors alone. Instead, the growth of a brand is driven as much (or even more) by its own strategies, brand power, and innovation rather than by simply sailing on the wave of the overall economy. As a case in point, the Bloomberg article cites several luxury brands that currently report significantly higher sales in China while selling more expensive products.

This shows what matters: Do you manage your brand in the right way to be relevant to your consumers? Do you excel on all criteria that drive extreme value? Are you maximally differentiated to competitors? If the answer to all questions is a definite yes, congratulations! You have a great chance to be among the winners in the year of the pig and beyond.

If the answer is maybe, you will be in trouble. It is typical that consumers become more rational when they perceive times getting tougher. And growing more rational means brands come under more scrutiny when it purchasing decisions are made. And more scrutiny means that brands with issues in their offering will lose and risk becoming obsolete. Watch out for aspects like brand positioning, customer journey, customer-centricity of your business model, and utilization of digital platforms to create seamless experiences. In advising brands, I see that many — even seemingly strong ones — are vulnerable in those areas. And being vulnerable means risking it all.

What should brands do? I believe a regular and rigorous brand audit is indispensable. All aspects of the brand need to be deeply analyzed: Are we relevant? Are there changes in consumer expectations? Did new competitors emerge? Is our positioning still unique enough? Are all consumer touch points creating a unique luxury experience that is unique to our brand? Do consumers see us the same way we want to be seen? Does everyone in the organization understand the positioning of the brand?

In a recent project, we were able to demonstrate to a leading luxury brand in Asia that significant aspects of what they assumed were how consumers saw them were wrong. Utilizing sophisticated AI technologies, we uncovered early warning signs and were able to recommend corrective measures, while the brand was still outperforming competitors. It is essential to do this exercise before those warning signals turn into real-life issues. In other words, brands have to act fast before it is too late.

According to the Chinese horoscope, the pig represents wealth. I believe it will hold amazing opportunities for those brands that are well positioned. On the flipside, it will be a nightmare year for those who are complacent. It’s for managers of luxury brands to choose — in China and beyond.


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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Susie Bubble Talks Chinese Fashion Amid Bicester Village CNY Pop-up Shop Launch

Super influencer Susanna Lau (a.k.a. Susie Bubble) is hot. Her blog, “Style Bubble,” has become one of the most successful fashion blogs since its launch in 2016, boasting some 300,000+ views per post. Her recent collaboration with Chanel, modeling sumptuous haute couture pieces, was a great success. And now the fashionista has entered the world of brick-and-mortar retail, with her first-ever pop-up boutique, aptly named “Celebrating China,” at Value Retail’s Bicester Village Shopping Collection to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

The Bicester Village Shopping Collection, a discount designer outlet located just outside of London, is said to be the second most visited destination for Chinese tourists visiting the U.K. (Buckingham Palace is first). It’s also home to more than 160 mega-brands, including Prada, Gucci, and Yves Saint Laurent, and has been leading the way in catering to the booming outbound Chinese travel market. Almost every store has at least one Mandarin-speaking staffer, and it’s impossible to find a sign that isn’t translated into Mandarin, and that includes the nearby Bicester Village train station.

So it’s no surprise that they partnered with Alipay on a global campaign to promote the Bicester Village Shopping Collection and its other shopping villages in Europe and China. Gone are the days of shoppers simply being lured in by big name brands alone. Now, the discerning Chinese market is seeking edgier, one-of-a-kind designs, and Bicester Village is working to accommodate. Susie Bubble’s pop-up is curated just for this crowd, showcasing the work of ten emerging Chinese designers, including former winner of the BFC Fashion Trust Award and an LVMH award finalist Huishan Zhang, Marie Yat, I-Am-Chen, and Snow Xue Gao.

Super influencer Susie Bubble launched her first-ever pop-up boutique at Value Retail’s Bicester Village Shopping Collection. Courtesy image

Super influencer Susie Bubble launched her first-ever pop-up boutique at Value Retail’s Bicester Village Shopping Collection. Courtesy image

Jing Daily caught up with Susie at the opening of “Celebrating China,” where, among many other things, she explained how she thinks the Chinese consumer is changing, and why the rest of the world should pay attention.

We were all ears.

Why is now the right time for the first Chinese designer pop-up in the U.K.?

Well, I’ve been banging on about Chinese designers and Shanghai Fashion Week for the past year, because there’s just such a big talent pool. This project was fortuitously timed, not only because it’s Chinese New Year, but also because Chinese designers are really having a moment. We’re seeing Chinese designers emerge in the main fashion weeks — in New York, Paris, and London — and what we’re really noticing is the enormous depth of talent.

How were the designers chosen for this collaboration?

What I found most interesting about doing this pop up is finding an aesthetic breadth. Chinese consumers don’t necessarily want designer clothes that are obviously “Chinese looking.” I really wanted to get across the feeling that Chinese fashion is wide-ranging, deep, nuanced and spans all kinds of tastes and genres. We have some more established names with evening wear from Huishan Zhang to minimal, slightly grungier pieces from Yang Li, who has done some amazingly powerful shows in Paris. There’s also I-Am-Chen whose knitwear I actually spotted at a trade show in Shanghai, and Mukzin, who was an Instagram direct message find! She basically slid into my DM, and I thought, “Wow this is great! I’m going to keep tracking you guys.”

Do you think the fashion world is ready for Chinese luxury fashion?

Absolutely, or at least it should be. For the West, there might still be a question mark over Chinese designers, but I think that perception is slowly changing. In London, for example, you see that the British Fashion Council has greater ties with the Chinese fashion community, like doing more with and at London Fashion Week. It’s important to note that China itself has a massive domestic market, and a lot of designers could happily build a great business there alone. But, at the same time, worldwide there is a greater appetite for the discovery of luxury Chinese designers. Things like the LVMH prize have really done a lot in terms of exposing global talent. I think they make a conscious effort of scouting designers from all regions and not just Europe and America. Slowly, it filters through to retailers who are picking this up, places like Bicester.

How is the Chinese luxury consumer changing?

These mega-brands were once the be all and end all of many Chinese shoppers but the luxury Chinese customer is now very curious and very fashion forward. With Western brands falling into gaffes like the Dolce & Gabbana thing, the Burberry Chinese New Year thing, it shows you have a much more critical and savvy Chinese audience. They don’t want to be spoken down to, and they don’t want to have things dictated to them.

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Chinese Whispers: Luxury Red Envelopes for Year of the Pig, and More

In “Chinese Whispers,” we share the biggest news stories about the luxury industry in China that haven’t yet made it into the English language.

In this week’s edition, we discuss:

  • Luxury brands’ red envelope designs spark online discussion,
  • Prada’s Lunar New Year campaign stirs criticism, and
  • The loss-making Japanese department stores.
Designs of Year of the Pig red envelops from Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Givenchy and Saint Laurent. Photo: Jiemian

Designs of Year of the Pig red envelops from Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Givenchy and Saint Laurent. Photo: Jiemian

1. Influencers and consumers compare luxury brands’ red envelopes for Year of the Pig – OFashion

For many years, creating designer red envelopes for Chinese Lunar New Year gift-giving has become a tradition for luxury brands. Red envelopes, or hongbao (红包), contain monetary gifts and are traditionally given during holidays and special occasions in China.

This year, a slew of big-name brands once again put a luxury spin on red envelopes to celebrate the Year of the Pig. Many influencers and VIP consumers who received envelopes from brands shared them on social media, sparking a lot of online discussions. For example, users said Louis Vuitton‘s design was “neat and concise,” Hermès‘ was “cute,” while Givenchy‘s was “so-so,” and Saint Laurent‘s was “a bit boring.”

Italian luxury brand Prada's 2019 Lunar New Year campaign drew similar criticism as Burberry from Chinese consumers. Photo: Prada Weibo

Italian luxury brand Prada’s 2019 Lunar New Year campaign drew similar criticism as Burberry from Chinese consumers. Photo: Prada Weibo

2. Prada’s Chinese New Year campaign wasn’t festive enough? – Jiemian 

Italian luxury brand Prada‘s 2019 Lunar New Year campaign drew similar criticism as Burberry from Chinese consumers, Chinese media outlet Jiemian reported on February 3. The campaign video titled “Prada My Character” went live on the brand’s Weibo account on January 13, dedicated to celebrating Asian youth culture during this special occasion.

Some social media users felt the tone of the video was gloomy and lacked a cheerful element. However, there are also many consumers defending Prada, claiming those critics are being overly culturally sensitive and that they lack the ability to appreciate high fashion.

China's New E-commerce Law affected the business of Japanese high-end department stores. Photo: Shutterstock

China’s New E-commerce Law affected the business of Japanese high-end department stores. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Japan’s high-end department stores hit by China’s new E-commerce LawWinsang

Some profitable high-end Japanese department store companies like Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings and Takashimaya reported a doubt-digit year-on-year decline in their January sales as a result of China’s crackdown on daigou shoppers following the implementation of a new E-commerce Law in January.

According to an analysis by Winsang, an e-commerce-focused Chinese publication, a decreasing number of Chinese daigou shoppers making purchases at these stores have had a highly negative impact on their sales growth, even though the country overall experienced an influx of Chinese tourists last month.

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Hermès, Tapestry Echo Chinese Economic Trends in Earnings Reports

Luxury brands’ recent earnings reports have been mostly positive, with companies like Estée Lauder Companies Inc., Burberry, and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) showing significant sales increases thanks to Chinese consumers. But mixed in with these reports, the industry is also seeing repeated reminders that China’s economy is slowing down and that Chinese tourists are shopping less.

In another round of earnings releases on Friday, those economic trends and predictions were once more reiterated. The French luxury handbag brand Hermès and the New York City-based multinational luxury holding company Tapestry each repeated talking points that similar companies have voiced over the last several months. Both corporations reported overall sales growth and growth in China (although Tapestry did note a slowdown in Chinese tourist sales).

Coach, which is one of the brands owned by Tapestry, has seen “increased traction with Chinese consumers globally driven by domestic demand, partially offset by a decline in tourist spend,” according to its earnings release.

Meanwhile, Hermès said its sales in China benefited from the brand’s expansion and store renovations in that country as well as the October roll-out of its new China-based digital platform. “We are still growing strongly in Asia, we did not see any change in momentum in our stores in China,” said Hermès CEO, Alex Dumas.

But compared to these Western companies, the Japanese personal care company Shiseido got an even bigger boost from consumers in China in 2018, with sales increasing 32 percent year-on-year — a big jump from the previous year’s 20 percent growth rate. The company’s sales in China grew at a similar pace of 33 percent year-on-year in Q4.

Meanwhile, the company’s travel retail segment did so well that it could be seen as a relative outlier among brands that rely on Chinese tourist spending. That segment’s saw sales grew 40 percent from the previous year, although its Q4 growth rate was slightly less robust at 27 percent. Aside from its close proximity to mainland China, Shiseido also likely saw a sales boost from the “lipstick effect” — where consumers in a recession are more willing to buy less expensive luxury items — that helped Estée Lauder Companies last quarter amid China’s slowing economy.

These earnings were released against the backdrop of the ongoing U.S.-China trade negotiations, for which optimism is waning as reports now claim that a Xi Jinping-Donald Trump meeting looks unlikely before the imposed March 1st deadline. “Right now, because the trade talks have not quite reached an agreement, the sentiment in China is relatively weak,” said SoHo China CEO, Zhang Xin, in an interview with Yahoo Finance earlier this week.

As more fashion and beauty brands report their earnings for the final quarter of 2018, investors will start to have a clearer picture of exactly which companies are better positioned to ride out China’s cooling tourist economy. One thing is certain, however: Companies that rely heavily on Chinese tourists shopping abroad will have to re-evaluate their strategies this year.

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How Maybelline Got the Chinese New Year Right

Every year numerous brands create special limited-edition products to celebrate Chinese New Year – and brands often look to influencers to help promote these products that are intended to drive sales to start the year. But how do some manage to stand out in a sea of holiday promotions?

Using a basic marketing tactic called product seeding, brands give away products to influencers in hopes that they will share the product promotion with their followers. While product seeding is a smart way to keep KOLs (key opinion leaders) up to date on brands’ new product offerings and develop a closer relationship with them, brands need to remember that influencers – even smaller ones – are inundated with piles of free products every day. For companies that want influencers to post about their product, the presentation is key for an eye-catching campaign that stands out from the pile.

This Chinese New Year, cosmetics brand Maybelline did just that. For the launch of their new “Red on Fire” lipstick series, they created a custom mahjong set, with the traditional symbols on the tiles replaced with lipstick, New York City icons, and the Maybelline M logo on the back. The new products were placed in the center of the case.

The campaign was a resounding success with hundreds of bloggers across all major Chinese social media platforms posting about it. A search for “Maybelline mahjong” on Xiaohongshu or RED returns over 260 posts, with many commenters asking where they could buy the mahjong set, some commented: “now I know what lipsticks to wear when I play Mahjong”. And, even top WeChat fashion blogger gogoboi took note. When he did his annual roundup of Chinese New Year limited edition products, he said that one of his two favorite items this year was Maybelline’s custom mahjong set.

Maybelline CNY pop-up store in China. Photo: Maybelline

Maybelline CNY pop-up store in China. Photo: Maybelline

Paired with the campaign, the brand also hosted fire-themed pop-up stores in Shenzhen and Tianjin, setting up a fire truck and mahjong table for visitors to take selfies. The company also used brand ambassador actor Bai Yu promote the event.

While most brands still struggle to come up with products that incorporate the Chinese zodiac or with traditional Chinese colors, Maybelline has shown that it knows how to connect with the local culture with its special products. It has managed to get influencers excited about a product and create buzz-worthy social awareness for the brand.

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Lipstick Sales Soar With Tencent Mobile Game Tie-In

It’s a rare case of the mobile game meets cosmetics brand. And it proves that a partnership may not have to make sense to everyone if it generates sales.

Recently, the extremely popular Tencent mobile game “Honor of Kings” (Western version titled “Arena of Valor”) and high-end cosmetics brand M.A.C. released five co-branded limited-edition lipsticks that were available on Tmall, the M.A.C. website, and a WeChat mini-program.

The impetus for the collaboration was inspired by the players’ demand. In an interview with Chinese media LadyMax, M.A.C. China marketing director Weng Yanling shared that they noticed players frequently mentioned the brand name M.A.C. when creating lip colors for their virtual characters in the game. In addition, both M.A.C. and “Honor of Kings” share a similar age demographic — between 18 and 24 years old — and female players overtook males in May 2017 as the dominant gender for “Honor of Kings,” which has more than 200 million monthly players since it first launched in 2015 and became the world’s highest grossing game in 2018, according to app market research firm App Annie.

The partnership moved forward under the lead of M.A.C.’s China team which approached Tencent with the initiative. While most collaborations like this require the go-ahead from the brand headquarters, the local China team, in this case, was given the freedom and support to create a plan.

Photo: Honor of Kings/Weibo

Photo: Honor of Kings/Weibo

To further boost social buzz surrounding the campaign, stars from the hit reality TV show “Produce 101” were recruited to appear in the campaign. Even though the product is lipstick, the goal of the campaign was to court both female and male consumers. And the brand was able to amplify the message by creating marketing campaigns with a list of social media products within the Tencent ecosystem, including WeChat Moments ads, QQ groups, WeChat H5 pages, and mini-programs.

The mash-up was an overwhelming success. Consumers placed over 14,000 pre-orders across the three platforms, and all five lipstick styles sold out across all sales channels within 24 hours of the launch.

This is not the first time lipstick with local cultural appeal went viral. Last year, a lipstick set from Beijing’s Palace Museum that showcased a Chinese aesthetic became a hot product. It appears companies are increasingly leveraging lipstick to resonate with Chinese consumers, who not only desire to carry a piece of makeup but also an identity in their pocket.

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The One Thing Stores & Hotels Can Do Right Now to Boost China Tourist Sales

Accepting mobile payments could pay off fast—and handsomely—for retailers catering to Chinese clients. According to a recent joint report from Alipay and Nielsen, retailers that adopted mobile payment options enjoyed a marked increase in sales among Chinese outbound tourists in 2018.

And, as early returns for 2019 roll in, the results are striking. Thailand duty-free shopping chain King Power had seen a 245 percent year-on-year increase in transactions through its Alipay mini-program and Accor Hotels France has seen a 511 percent spike in transactions through its. The Lunar New Year vacation binge hadn’t even begun.

Numerous destinations began expanding their transaction methods to accommodate Chinese travelers during the Christmas and New Year travel period, and the momentum hasn’t slowed in preparation for the Year of the Pig. The popular Singaporean resort of Sentosa recently went completely cashless with the help of Alipay—the island adopted the digital payments for everything from luxury retailers to food & beverage vendors to prepare for the influx of tourists. And destinations are betting that convenience will prompt more big-spending Chinese tourists to pick the stores and sites that make their life easier.

Destinations like Hokkaido, Japan, have embraced the expansion of such services to attract Chinese tourists—the plan has thus far worked. Elsewhere abroad, this year, 80 percent of merchants in Davos now accept Alipay, Chinese media outlet Sina noted. And French department store BHV Marais recently teamed up with WeChat Pay.

It’s not just retailers getting in on the act. Italian taxi app IT Taxi has teamed up with Italian mobile payment operator Tinaba to accommodate Alipay users with over 8,000 taxis in popular destinations like Rome, Milan, and Florence.

Of course, shopping habits can only be influenced by convenience to an extent, and some retailers, such as Galeries Lafayette in Paris, offer additional services such as Mandarin-speaking staff and Lunar New Year activities to lure Chinese outbound travelers. Such additional amenities can put a destination ahead of competition that just offer mobile payment options.

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In 2018, Brand Value for Chanel, Dior, Hermès Climbed on China Buying

Despite signs of an economic slowdown, 2018 proved to be a cheerful year for a majority of high-end fashion brands as Chinese spending power upped the value and visibility of some famous luxury names.

According to an annual ranking of the world’s 500 most valuable brands released by Brand Finance, a slew of luxury brands including Chanel, Christian Dior, Cartier, and Louis Vuitton saw their brand values increase significantly from 2018 to 2019, largely due to buying in the Chinese market.

To define “brand value,” the London-based data intelligence company applied a common industry-accounting approach. It estimates the likely future revenues that are attributable to a brand by calculating the  royalty rate that would be charged for its use.

The luxury brands in the Brand Finance Global 500 2019 have seen overall growth in their brand values, largely due to the expenditure in the Chinese market. Courtesy chart

The luxury brands in the Brand Finance Global 500 2019 have seen overall growth in their brand values, largely due to the expenditure in the Chinese market. Courtesy of Brand Finance.

French luxury powerhouse Chanel was the fastest-growing name in terms of brand value. Over the past year, its value jumped 95.1 percent, sending the brand to no. 149 in the ranking from no. 299 in 2018.

Another French luxury giant, Christian Dior, also experienced a jump. This year, it was ranked no. 326, up from no. 451 the year before. Other renowned brands like Louis Vuitton (from 144 to 124), Cartier (from 158 to 123), Prada (from 478 to 451), and Rolex (from 276 to 245) all experienced varying degrees of growth in the year. The rankings of Gucci (182) and Hermès (163) remained the same this year. British label Burberry, however, saw its value ranking decline to no. 429 from no. 393.

“The luxury brands in the list have seen an overall growth in their brand values, largely due to the expenditure in the Chinese market,” said Vinchy Chan, a consultant at Brand Finance.

“Most of these luxury brands have invested great efforts into developing digital channels to stay relevant and offer more tailored services to their discerning customer base, including ultra-luxury brands like Hermès,” she added.

Common traits shared among these valuable luxury brands are that they have at least one signature design that conveys the personality and unique feel of the brand to resonate with their shoppers, Chan explained.

Amazon, the global e-commerce behemoth, came on the top of the ranking this year as usual. WeChat, the digital marketing king among luxury brands operating in China, experienced a surge in its brand value during the period. As the third fastest-growing brand overall, WeChat’s brand value grew by 126.2 percent, boosting it to the 20th position from 47th in 2018. The power run helped WeChat beat its parent company Tencent Holdings, whose ranking actually dipped one spot from last year to no. 21.

China’s answer to Netflix, iQiyi, became the year’s dark horse. The video streaming service was the year’s fastest-growing brand, with its brand value skyrocketing over 300 percent, underlying China’s booming video streaming market. Though luxury brands haven’t yet formed much of a direct relationship with iQiyi, hundreds of thousands of streaming content to more than 500 million monthly active users on the platform provides ample marketing and advertising opportunities., China’s second-largest e-commerce platform, experienced a fall in the rankings to no. 151 from no. 63 in 2018, after its founder Richard Liu was accused of sexual assault in the United States. Its major competitor Alibaba climbed to no. 116 from no. 162 during the period. Both companies are significant for luxury brands doing business in China, as they are in a heated competition to recruit brands to sell on their platforms.

Brand Finance’s report also provided a 2019 “Brand Guardianship Index,” which rates CEOs to “capture how well they measure up as brand managers.” Unsurprisingly, LVMH’s head Bernard Arnault continues to score high marks thanks to the group’s robust development in 2018. He was in third place following Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Toyota’s Akio Toyoda, respectively. Apple CEO Tim Cook was fourth on the list.

Overall, the ranking, which is forward-looking, provides some valuable insights into the potential of different companies and brands. It is not an exaggeration to state that the luxury industry is a winning category from 2018 to 2019, according to the report. But whether the momentum can hold up depends on each brand’s ability to navigate the complicated global economic environment and whether the Chinese economy is really headed into a significant slowdown.

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Clinique Unveils Jing Boran Travel Exclusive Set at CNY Event

Clinique Brand Ambassador, singer and actor Jing Boran (井柏然) was the special guest as the beauty brand hosted a spectacular Chinese New Year launch at China Duty Free Group (CDFG)’s Haitang Bay store in Sanya on February 1.

Jing, who first made his name as a singer, is hugely popular in China, having starred in a string of hit movies including “Hot Summer Days,” “Lost and Love,” “Monster Hunt,” and “Time Raiders.”

All onboard for Clinique: This spectacular installation was the centerpiece of the brand’s Chinese New Year celebrations.

At the event, the Estée Lauder Companies-owned brand launched a limited-edition Clinique x Jing Boran Travel Exclusive Set to cater to the skincare needs of Chinese travelers during the drier winter and spring seasons.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and Champagne toast was hosted, featuring Jing Boran and executives from Clinique Travel Retail Asia Pacific and CDFG.

A big audience of media, KOLs and waves of shoppers gathered in the mall’s central atrium to welcome the famous Chinese actor. To kickstart the event, Jing Boran wished the audience a prosperous Chinese New Year and shared his skin hydration tips. He explained that due to his frequent need to travel long distance for shoots, he sometimes suffers from jetlagged skin with dry, tight areas due to the changes in climate.

Jing’s list of travel essentials to keep skin hydrated and plumped includes Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizer, available in three textures and Moisture Surge Hydrating Lotion. Both products are available in the Clinique x Jing Boran Travel Exclusive Set.

Jing Boran also recommended the travel exclusive set as the perfect gift for Chinese New Year to pamper friends and family as many are traveling during the festive period. Jing Boran signed the limited-edition red cases used to dress up the Dramatically Different Moisturizer. Clinique fans who purchase the travel exclusive set at Clinique counter in CDF Mall receive the red case as New Year gift.

Clinique Travel Retail Asia-Pacific Regional Brand General Manager Bart Dubbeld told guests: “This year, our brand is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Over the past 50 years, we have come to establish ourselves as the top global brand for high-performance skincare. You can count on us to be a trusted partner with outstanding products that are 100 percent safe, and tremendously effective in ensuring that all our users enjoy happy skin.”

“I would like to thank Clinique for such a momentous event,” said Mr. Su, Deputy General Manager of CDF Mall. “The brand Clinique has always been a reliable partner for us. The success of CDF depends greatly on our strong bond built throughout the years with trustworthy brands such as Clinique.”

This post originally appeared on The Moodie Davitt Report, our content partner site. 

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