Ten keywords in 2020 and six important trends in China

December 25,2020

Affected by COVID-19, the global personal luxury goods market has shrunk for the first time since 2009, but the Chinese market has become the only bright spot.

Luxe.CO Intelligence found in its recently-released “Luxury Consumption in China: a 2020 White Paper” that 31% of respondents were still interested in purchasing luxury goods online during the pandemic, while 29% indicated they were reading more information about luxury goods online. According to the Bain & Company Luxury Study, released in November 2020, China's local consumption has soared across different channels, categories, and price ranges, and the number of consumers of all ages has also increased. According to the official website of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, China is the only major export market that has achieved positive growth this year.

In the 2019 "Luxe.CO Innovative Marketing Award", we mentioned that every user has become a brand communicator. Then in 2020, every luxury brand has been striving to become a better content producer and continue to tap and amplify its unique selling points (USP).

After the pandemic stabilized in spring, the 2020 Luxe.CO Luxury Brands in China Bi-weekly regularly tracked the movements of 100 luxury brands right through to December 1. With the release of 14 consecutive issues in seven months, we have included a total of 337 important marketing campaigns and channel expansions by luxury brands in China; in other words, every two weeks we have presented at least 20 luxury brand trends that are worthy of industry attention and reference in the Chinese market. From this we’ve identified ten luxury brands’ marketing keywords in China in 2020. They are localization, gamified interaction, crossover, humanities and arts, celebrity cooperation, sustainability, customization, store innovation, virtual technology, and live broadcasts.

These ten keywords represent the four core areas of luxury brands' continued efforts in the Chinese market, namely brand power, product power, emotional resonance with users, and user experience.

Through these keywords, Luxe.CO has summarized for you the six latest trends that deserve close attention from all parties in the Chinese luxury market. Without further ado, here are the six:

  • Trend 1: Using brand recognition to tap brand potential

Luxury brands are quickly capturing consumers’ hearts and minds through cross-border cooperation. More importantly, in this process, brands can explore the classic elements that may become USPs to give full play to their commercial value and regain popularity.

In the leading examples from our Bi-weekly List, we see that in the cooperation between BVLGARI and the Japanese fashion brand AMBUSH, the classic snake-shaped symbol Serpenti has become the defining feature; our visual artists will be invited to re-create this series. In the crossover between Dior and Nike's brand Air Jordan, the brand's unique Dior Gray, and the fabric-textured "Oblique" pattern have become instantly recognizable elements.

Above: Visual artists are about to re-create BVLGARI x AMBUSH

Above: Dior x Air Jordan

  • Trend 2: digging deep into the brand "database" and reusing it to strengthen luxury high-end brand image

A "sense of distance" has always been a subtle measure for luxury brands to make users feel "superior". In the digital age, the distance between luxury brands and users has been narrowed as never before. Brands can only dig in-depth existing "databases" and cleverly realize secondary communication.

For example, Goyard has released a short film called "Goyard Root", telling the story of the Goyard family's earliest work with wood. Alexander McQueen has launched the McQueen Music project, which allows fans to download McQueen fashion shows and other brand music for appreciation at home. In August, Dior held its largest, three-month-longretrospective brand exhibition: "Christine Dior, the designer of dreams". Louis Vuitton’s roving exhibition "SEE LV" will soon make its first stop in Wuhan, displaying the brand's 160-year history and classic works.

Above: The "Christine Dior, Designer of Dreams" Exhibition

Above: Exhibition "SEE LV"

  • Trend 3: High-luxury brands "stepping out” of stores and exploring ways to communicate their message

In the past, high-end luxury brands focused their efforts on how to engage more deeply with high-net-worth customers. As China’s high-end consumer market continues to heat up, this year, high-end jewelry and watch brands have tried to strengthen dialogue with a wider target audience to attract new clientele.

High-end luxury brands are boldly "stepping out" of traditional storefronts and exploring new forms of dialogue with the public. For example, Germany’s ZEITWERK uses the sound of its watch to conduct Q and A sessions with users to promote its product features. In terms of exhibitions, Jaeger-LeCoultre recently held a theme exhibition "THE SOUND MAKER" at Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu – Guangdong Hall; Longines' "Walk with Time, Longines Flying Timepiece Exhibition" conveyed brand value by presenting the pioneering stories of the many explorers who have worn Longines watches.

Above: Exhibition "THE SOUND MAKER"

Above: The "Walk with Time, Longines Flying Timepiece” Exhibition

  • Trend 4: The new generation of talented star idols has become an important interface for dialogue with young users

Talented celebrity idols, especially male celebrities, born in the 1990s, and even 2000s, are becoming the preferred spokespersons or brand friends of luxury brands. For example, Jackson Yee serves as Tiffany & Co. T spokesperson, BVLGARI global fragrance spokesperson, and Emporio Armani global image spokesperson. Song Weilong serves as Burberry makeup spokesperson, and Emporio Armani men’s watch image spokesperson in Greater China and the Asia Pacific region. Karry Wang serves as Guerlain skincare spokesperson.

Celebrity engagement has become an important touchpoint in brands’ marketing offensives. For example, Lay Zhang has composed pure music for Chaumet for three consecutive years. This year, his newly created music video has received more than one million comments and reposts on his personal Weibo account. Kris Wu has appeared as a catwalk model during Louis Vuitton’s 2021 spring and summer menswear show in Shanghai. Teaming up with Wang Yibo, high-end automobile brand FAW-Volkswagen Automotive launched the A3 Sportback limited edition with 23 units globally at a market price of 268,500 yuan.

  • Trend 5: China has become a testing ground for innovative applications of brand digital technology

Virtual characters, digital stores, and gamified interaction are all keywords in luxury brands' marketing initiatives in China in the past year.

In addition to the two key platforms for brand content operations, WeChat and Weibo, brands have begun to deploy Xiaohongshu, Douyin, and Bilibili. Louis Vuitton became the first luxury brand to establish a presence on Xiaohongshu, launching a live broadcast on the platform, while Dior became the first luxury brand to launch accounts on Bilibili and Douyin.

Some brands have boldly tried to launch marketing offensives on specific platforms. For example: Gucci's "Unexpected Style Leader" topic on Douyin has received nearly 47 million views; Piaget had its first try on Tmall and conducted a special live broadcast with Austin Li, with the total number of interactions exceeding six million; and Moncler has launched multiple playlists on the QQ music platform.

The next operational challenge that luxury brands will face is how to continue to cultivate different social platforms and deliver customized and refined services.

Above: Gucci posted the topic "Unexpected Style Leader" on Douyin

Above: Moncler launches playlist on the QQ music platform

  • Trend 6. Further localizing in China, the biggest challenge for luxury brands

In 2020, with more overseas new brands pouring into the Chinese market, and the vigorous growth of local Chinese brands, the attention span of Chinese consumers is rapidly filled and dispersed. How to further strengthen the emotional connection with Chinese consumers is a huge challenge faced by major luxury brands.

This year, we have found that luxury brands have accelerated their exploration and efforts at Chinese localization in all dimensions, such as frequent crossovers or cooperation with Chinese artists:

Recently, Cartier invited eight groups of new-generation Chinese artists from different fields. Inspired by “MakeYourOwnPath”, they created paintings, paper art, photography, animation, and more, giving performances at 14 city landmarks in Shanghai in the form of a limited-time exhibition.

The contemporary art exhibition held by the Prada Mode club at Prada Rong Zhai in Shanghai invited Chinese director Jia Zhangke to conceive and plan on the theme of "MIAN". At the same time, it invited writer Xu Zhiyuan, architect Lian Yirui, and actor Liao Fan to start a cultural dialogue.

Burberry teamed up with musician Victor Ma, Microsoft artificial intelligence girl "Xiaoice" and its sister singer He Chang, and music producer Shen Kaiwen to create the theme song "Runway 2.0" for the Burberry TB summer exclusive logo series. The brand also invited visual artist Liu Xin and his team to jointly create a music video combining real-life interpretation and CG special effects.

In the post-pandemic era, overseas travel remains limited, and China's explosive consumption power has attracted the attention of major brands. In addition to the accelerated integration with the humanities and arts, noted above, will brands open stores in more cities in China? Will they explore more diversified physical business formats such as duty-free shops? We believe these are all important issues that luxury brands are thinking about.

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The “2020 Luxe.CO Innovative Marketing Award" has officially entered the review stage. Among 330+ luxury brand marketing initiatives, who will take out the award? This is something to look forward to!

| Photo Credit: Brands, LuxeCO

| By Elisa Wang


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