INNOVATION DRIVES FASHION FORWARD

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How to resonate with the new generation of consumers’ values? 丨2019 Luxe.Co annual forum series report

May 15,2019

Fashion is a common topic worldwide, resonating wherever you go. China’s fashion industry is on the rise, breeding unlimited opportunities for entrepreneurship, innovation and investment.

“Luxe.Co Global Fashion Innovation and Investment Forum 2019” was successfully held on April 12 in Beijing. Prominent entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, managers and designers gathered together to discuss the real issues and future trends about fashion industry innovation and integration in China and across the world. Various real-life case about how fashion brands created, developed and evolved were presented from multi-angles in the forum.

Now the global fashion industry has focused on the “Millennial Generation”. Whether it is a luxury brand, a fashion brand, an Internet brand or a new designer brand, they all want to impress the younger generation of consumers through diverse channels with more innovative and unique products, and to build deep emotional connections through ongoing dialogue with them.

In this forum, Luxe Co. invited four senior executives and entrepreneurs in the field of fashion consumption industry. Based on their own practice and thinking, they discussed about the characteristics of consumer behavior, the changes in consumer preferences of the younger generation, and the effective means brands used to attract them.

Qian Zhu, JNBY Group CFO

Mr. Zhu joined JNBY Group as the Chief Financial Officer in November 2013. He is mainly responsible for the overall strategy, business development, financial and operation management of the Group. Since November 2014, he has been responsible for the marketing of brand JNBY, CROQUIS, jnby by JNBY and less. He is also responsible for brand self-operated business management of jnby by JNBY. Zhu has more than 13 years of experience in auditing and financial analysis. He previously worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

JNBY’s main business is the design, promotion and sale of clothing, footwear, accessories and household products for women, men, children and adolescents. It owns brand JNBY, CROQUIS, jnby by JNBY, less, Pomme de terre, JNBY HOME and etc.

"In fact, I never pay special attention to the age of our consumers. One thing I have learnt from the core management team including the two founders is that age is never a problem. I know JNBY for the first time is because my mother was already a fan of JNBY in the 1990s, and she is still our customer now. In terms of the target consumers, different brands have different fan groups. So where are your fans, where are the groups you should distribute.

The development of our products does not follow a specific logic, and instead, it is based on market demand. For example, we observed that the market only had simple men’s cloths, so we launched a new brand to sell fashionable men’s clothing.

There are two important aspects in the internal culture of our group. First, we encourage innovation. Even I think that innovation has become the soul of JNBY Group. Second, our internal organizational structure will not limit the management power of anyone. For example, as a CFO, many people may think that I am only responsible for analyzing the financial data every day, but I am also responsible for negotiating with malls and marketing. I have my own understanding of "CFO", Chief Fashion Officer.

One phenomenon that I have recently observed is that some people who have professional backgrounds, but less fashion sense actually want to become fashionable, but they don't know how to change. They also claim that they are very busy and have no time to go shopping.  In the markets, there are only two channels for people to go shopping, online and retail store. Therefore, I am thinking that whether we can create a new scene to meet the needs of these people. Since they do not have time to go shopping offline and are also not willing to shop online, I can find some fashion experts to help them shop. These experts select three to four sets of clothes with different styles in a box, and then send these boxes to their home or office. This consumption scene is neither online nor offline. I think that consumers would enjoy the value-added service in the process, and they are willing to try this shopping method.”

Zhilin Zhuang, Unilever Global Brand Director

Ms. Zhuang has 16 years of experience in marketing of fast-moving consumer goods companies. She has worked in many personal care and beauty brands such as Dove, Lux, L'Oreal Paris, and her team has won the “Effie” China Advertising Gold Award. She is currently responsible for the promotion of Dove brand in China.

Dove, the world's leading personal care brand, was born in 1956 and is currently marketed in more than 140 countries. Its products include treatment for face, body, hair, baby and men's special series, which has won the unanimous reputation of consumers in China with the excellent effect of “Dove, nourishing more than milk”.

“I have worked at Unilever for 16 years, and 8 years among them have been dedicated to the Dove brand. Why does Dove use reminiscence as its main marketing strategy? It actually started with a performance bottleneck we encountered in the 1990s. At the age of 30, Dove was facing the problem of brand aging that our brand wasn’t attractive to young people, so the management launched a consumer insight activity. After receiving a lot of feedback, we launched "Real Beauty", which is consistent with the brand’s original philosophy. In 1957, when alkaline cleaning products took over the market, Dove innovatively introduced a mild product with emollient function and gradually established a trust relationship with users.

Our brand has three principles that cannot be subverted:

First, our advertisements only use ordinary women, but never use star models. All the star models are professionally trained, so that their facial expressions in front of the camera will become quite professional intentionally or unintentionally, rather than to express their true selves. Although the ordinary women may have a bit of timidity when facing the camera, that is the most authentic and beautiful look.

Second, throughout the whole advertising process, these women must organize their own language. In our advertisements or promotional videos, they must tell their owner stories and we won’t provide them with lines. Also, they wear their own clothes with their own style and we won’t provide them with styling services.

Third, we care not only about mature women but also about young people. According to a large number of surveys, the biggest enemy of girls when they enter the society is their self-confidence. We find that helping girls build confidence when they are about ten years old is beneficial to their future social contact, work, and even seeking a marriage partner. Therefore, we pay attention to the adolescence. Dove Self-Esteem Project has launched for 14 years, and it entered China in 2018. Now we have begun to undertake projects such as organizing self-confidence courses for junior high school girls aged 11 to 13.

From the outside world, we seem to have done numerous activities that are not targeted at sales. But from a brand perspective, we are actually deepening the user's brand experience. Our fans are mainly in two types, one for the product and the other for the brand. Of course, there will be an intersection between these two types. I think the former ones are the loyal users who have used our products before. They like our products, scent packaging and user experience. However now, more and more young people are the latter one. They pursue product values, packaging, and environmental protection concepts, which are the fields that we are trying to perfect. When we realize these consumers’ needs, we still want to perfect their user experience for Dove product.

For example, when we released the new event “Let's See” in London in March, we invited several KOLs from 150 countries. Once they arrive in the hotel, they started the trip to experience Dove. The first thing they saw in the hotel room was the event theme written on the mirror in the bathroom. Then they saw a piece of Dove soap has their name on it. On the desk and bed are the products to be used in the next three days, such as water cups. In the future, Dove will hold more events, and the participants will continue to expand. From KOL to consumers and even men in the future, they will become the experiencers of our brand.”

Cong Xu, Managing Director of Fashion Road

Cong Xu once worked as the general manager of the marketing department in the Fashion Group, and now is the managing director of the “Beijing Fashion Road Brand Management Co., Ltd.”. She has many years of experience in integrating marketing, fashion, cultural industries and branding strategies. In the past fifteen years, starting from scratch, Xu has created an excellent marketing team with nearly 100 people for Fashion Group, and pioneered the market promotion in the media industry. In addition, the team led by Xu has also opened up the crossover cooperation  between fashion and stage drama, retail, and art.

“I actually worked in the marketing field before I entered the fashion industry. In the process of helping the brand to come up with various ways to evoke consumer resonance, I felt that the new generation of consumers was like a nomadic people on the grassland. Their consumption behavior is difficult to analyze through data as before, they are "swim communities". They can be in one place today, and someday, suddenly affected by some factors, they are transferred to another place. Of course, these consumption habits also bring more opportunities to many new brands. In the past, too many resources and markets had been monopolized by big brands, and small brands had few opportunities. Nowadays, consumers are willing to try new things, and it’s relatively easy for new brands to become popular.

Young people are rebellious.  In the process of commercializing the museum art IP, I found that the order the design, the more attractive it is to the young generation. Since young people now want to be associated with ancient things and also want to express their own rebellious spirit, they will have a high degree of acceptance of such art IP. I think that the new generation of consumers is a group of different people with very strong personality. Your products must resonate with their values, and find a way to impress them. Thus, establishment of consumer loyalty is relatively harder in this era.

It is a time of retail 3.0, that is, the retail environment needs to be highly unified with the product, and consumers can enter a scene to experience what the brand want to express in all aspects. Retail 1.0 is about opening a retail store, and retail 2.0 is about opening a designer’s shop covering a wide range of brands and categories.

When it comes to the crossover of art and fashion, I think there are two things need to be noted. First, choose an artist whose style is associated with the brands value, rather than choose an artist just because his or her work is famous. Second, there must be continuity in the crossover. If the crossover happened once a year or every product season, it will help consumers to form a habit and they will look forward to your next move.

According to the survey, more than 74% of the crossover products’ sales increased by more than 20% compared to the original products.”

Qiao Ding, Co-Founder of Yooiu

 

Ms. Ding is a serial entrepreneur of consumer goods who was born in 1990s. She got her bachelor’s degree in the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in philosophy, politics and economics, minoring in consumer psychology (Wharton) and music. Now she is pursuing master degree in MIT Supply Chain Management program. She is good at creating hot cake and once was the general agent of GLOV China. Yooiu is a cat food brand owned by Duoji(Beijing) Biotechnology Co., Ltd.

"when it comes to consumer observation, I want to talk about my own changes from a broader perspective. I used to think that I was the beneficiary of the 1990s, because entrepreneurs born in 1990s would receive more attention. However, after thinking and trying, I find that only though having a good communication with consumers, could I make a good product, which is the constant law of the consumer goods industry.

Our brand is about cat food, so first, I want to talk about why we choose this field. We have observed that the number of people who raise cats is exponentially growing, especially for females in the first and second tier cities. The reason behind this phenomenon is that people need companion and a sense of security. I think that consumer goods have two functions. One is a bridge between the brand and the consumer, and the other is to visualize the consumers emotional needs. So, choosing pets industry is because we estimate the market demand for companion consumption will be great in the future, and choosing cat food is because it is a consumer product with a very high repurchase rate.

Regarding the marketing channels, I would like to share our experience in several new consumption platforms. At the earliest time, we hired the bloggers in “Red” to help us increase the visitor volume, which was a very cost-effective way to spread our reputation. As for the Tik Tok and bilibili, the logic behind them is very similar. They all use the creative content to attract and guide consumers. Therefore, I think for new brands with a little budget, they should first understand the logic behind a content platform, then open it up and quickly replicate this logic to other platforms.

Of course, you cannot ignore the traditional marketing channels. For example, pet consumption filed is quite traditional and half of the sales in this field is depend on offline distribution channel. So, we should also consider how to do the promotion offline. In conclusion, in terms of distribution channels, it is still necessary to expand and maintain simultaneously online and offline.”

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