INSIGHT | A Blessing or Curse? Low-profile Luxury Brand Goyard Is Hitting A Tipping Point

September 15,2019

It seems that Goyard bags have been exposed more frequently in Beijing and Shanghai overnight, often in the same context as Louis Vuitton and other luxury brands, and frequently appearing in various popular luxury introduction recommendation articles. Some netizens even claim that they are witnessing many Goyard bags in the subway.

Goyard, which has been in China since 2008, may now be hitting an important tipping point in sales. While some luxury brands are reaching out to a broader, younger audience, Goyard is quietly picking up the VIPs they once had.

What is special about Goyard is that it almost never initiates marketing campaigns or speak to the media. The product is its only carrier of word-of-mouth marketing, and its traffic is 100% from "EMV" - (Earned Media Value).

When consumers are bombarded by numerous online and offline advertisements every day, buying low-profile luxury brands has become another form of ostentatious consumption.

Paradoxically, in today's China market, despite the low profile of Goyard, its products and classic monogram are no longer in the "minority", but have emerged all over the place -- so, is the brand really becoming more popular, or is it just the product or the monogram that happens to be in vogue? Does this popularity damage the long-term value of a luxury brand? What risks will the brand face in the future?

Why is Goyard Getting Popular from This Tote Bag?

In 2010, someone photographed Faye Wong carrying Goyard while shopping and shared the photo on Weibo, bringing the brand its first public attention from social media. Since then, the St. Louis tote bag L size, now priced at 12,780RMB, has been seen everywhere in Beijing and Shanghai.

This may be because Goyard's highly recognizable classic monogram coincides with the current trend; or perhaps, driven by celebrity fans of Goyard, it has spread and enlarged rapidly in today's digital communication environment. Especially when consumers are over-marketed by more and more luxury brands (which leads to aesthetic fatigue), they are more likely attracted by low profile brands that they "discovered".

We saw some netizens describing the classic Goyard monogram like this: "I used to think the Goyard monogram looked ugly, but now I like it more and more..."

The hip-hop community, which loves big logos, seems to be rediscovering this century-old classic brand: Pharrell Williams talks about Goyard in his song; Kanye West customized a St. Louis Tote bag for his daughter North. In China, such as Kris Wu and Faye Wong are also big fans of Goyard.

Goyard, Always Innovating

When consumers buy Goyard tote bags, they will be surprised by their ultra-light weight. This is actually a canvas fabric invented by Edmond, the second generation of Goyard family, he also invented the classic Monogram, and insist on using only natural dyes and hand-painting on finished products.

Fabric innovation, bag production and pattern drawing have become the core of the brand, and the key to the authenticity of products. Looking back on history, ingenuity and innovation have always been rooted in Goyard, which makes brands with higher technical barriers more effective when facing imitation products.

In order to break through the stereotype of "canvas" and "hard case", Goyard recently collaborated with Snoopy to launch Anjou St. Louis Two Sided Tote Bag; And now the popular St. Louis Tote Bag which was originally only brown, has now added colors like red, orange, yellow, green and blue.

When we opened Goyard's website, we were surprised to find a function that users can directly interact with the brand, which is also the most important service that the brand provides for high-end customers -- personalized customization.

As time passes, Goyard, which once only served celebrities and elites and even refused some orders, can now provide personalized customization for every customer, which has become one of the barriers for brands to avoid imitation products.

Although it has never opened e-commerce channels, Goyard has not completely given up communicating with users in other digital ways. In fact, as early as 2012, Goyard released the first film in its history. In 2013, it opened an official Sina Weibo account. In 2015, it opened the official WeChat account, and in 2016, it opened Instagram. When the new Artois bag was launched in 2018, Weibo and WeChat became the preferred channels for product release.

In the "Young & Digital List" launched by this year, Goyard’s luxury pet accessories collection “Chic Du Chien” was selected in the list. ( See details: …. )

For Goyard, which has always maintained the image of "high luxury" through the “Chic Du Chien” collection, the brand enables pet-loving users to have a new understanding of the brand image, and find a common language to communicate with the users.

Goyard, Low Profile Can Be A Double-edged Sword

When we sample interviewed consumers about Goyard brand awareness, their attitudes are sharply polarized:

Some users told the magazine that they now only buy Goyard bags because other luxury brands are too easy to copy. But many more said they had no idea what brand it was and could not understand why it was so expensive even though they saw someone carrying. Some netizens even mentioned Goyard in Zhihu's question " What's the ugliest design you've ever seen?".

Although Goyard has a history of 100 years, when faced with a completely different communication environment and retail ecosystem, if a brand is silent at the point when they should release its brand power, it will inevitably miss out on the best window to voice out for the brand.

Specifically in the China market, if a brand fails to control the circulation of goods at this stage, its brand image and brand value will undoubtedly suffer a heavy blow. When called the Goyard store, we find out that the brand does not even provide inspection service.

Goyard has resisted automation and mass production, which has kept its production low and may prove inadequate in the face of voracious demand from China. But in the face of massive demand from the China market, brands may be overwhelmed in the future.

Looking through Goyard’s Weibo, many netizens sent messages to enquire around products or price long ago, but Goyard’s response was simply "please call or visiting the brand shop". As a result, many consumers have been to Goyard Paris head store, and said queueing outside the store is common, because the store can only serve a fixed number of customers for a period of time.

Goyard, which insists on not expanding its e-commerce business, currently has stores in 21 cities around the world.

Goyard entered China in 2008. The first store was opened at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong in 2008. The second store was opened in Shanghai in 2012 and then changed store from the Bund to Plaza 66 (below). The third store was opened in Beijing in 2013, and opened another new one in Pacific Place Hong Kong in 2014, and most recent one is in IFS Chengdu.

After calling Goyard stores for consultation, learned that due to limited production, the waiting time is 1-3 months on average, and for hot products a wait is closer to 3-6 months. It seems that the shortage of products in the China market is becoming more and more serious.

With the increasing visibility of the tote bag and the classic monogram, fake products are now beginning to proliferate. On a famous e-commerce website, we saw the Goyard X Kaws co-branded phone case with a price tag of only 35RMB or so.

This phenomenon requires brands to be on high alert, because this is not the first time such a situation has occurred:

Louis Vuitton faced a similar situation around 2012. At that time, the monogram design was highly recognizable and popular, but soon fakes began to spread. Jean-Jacques Guiony, CFO of LVMH, said although the overall sales of Chinese consumers still showed a "mid-single-digit" growth benefiting from overseas tourism shopping, sales in mainland China were still "flattish".

If businesses cannot solve the problem of supply and demand, new customers may lose patience and give up. Against a flood of fake products, this will certainly make loyal VIP lose face and even decide to choose other brands.

For the above problems, Goyard, which is still operating independently, undoubtedly faces a dilemma.


According to The Real Real's report on second-hand luxury consignment sales for the 2018 Christmas season, Goyard second hand price can be 80% of the original price, and in the ranking of women's favorite brands, Goyard is only below Hermes. Goyard holds its value in the second-hand market because it is like an heirloom, a bag of fashion insiders' first choice rather than a flashy luxury item.

Luxury retail analyst Pam Danziger believes that Goyard as a privately held company, compared to some large group of luxury brands, more can act according to own ideas, and does not have to consider shareholders or group management and so on as much.

But needless to say, as an independent luxury brand, it is relatively weak in investment. Facing the emerging China market with strong demand and rapidly evolving ecosystem, while it is the brand’s attitude to keep a low profile, it is also their choice to act.


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