China and Luxury branding

An insight by Andrew Howie

China has experienced a relentless surge in consumer buying power since the 1990’s. The Chinese consumer has become wealthier and more accepting of western retail formats- with international supermarket chains, department stores and mass retailers paving the way for luxury retailers. Luxury brand companies have been investing in the China market, with  Louis Vuitton, Bally, Gucci, Ferragamo among the first wave of retailers in China more then 10 years ago. But now with consumer spending increasing and the loosening of government restrictions, foreign luxury brands face pressure to strengthen the commitment to the mainland or risk loosing ground to the rivals.

Luxury is consistently evolving and subject to concept, and not easy to define. But more often then not, the word is used to define an inessential but desirable item or a state of extreme comfort or indulgence. What sets luxury brands apart is that they command a premium without a clear functional advantage over their counterparts. Yet consumers are willing to pay the significance price difference because the brand has a unique set of characteristics including premium quality, craftsmanship,  exclusivity and reputation

Luxury brands not only convey a standard of excellence but act as social codes indicating access to the rare, exclusive and desirable. This makes the luxury market a particularly interesting one because it represents consumption as its most hedonistic  and seemingly irrational- purchasing for the personal pleasure it provides despite the financial  cost.

The luxury brands operating in China are largely European in origin and span across different retail sectors such as fashion, jewelery, motor vehicle and accessories, footwear, cosmetics, perfume & liquor .

When brands are evaluating their marketing strategy, it is very important to align with a sport, event or celebrity that truly represents the brand equity. One sport that has made a very successful brand connect in China is the sport of Polo.

According to a leading expert “The sport of Polo is commonly associated with royalty, class and power, but the world of Polo goes much further beyond the actual sport. It stretches into a world of elegance, beauty, charm and lifestyle. The Sport of Kings is not for the conservative, but rather the brave and adventurous, those who seek excitement, thrill and power. Polo is a unique sporting and lifestyle communications platform, and the sponsorship opportunities are appealing for any brand that is looking to make history by developing a landmark and pioneer.”

First introduced to China in 1997 by Steve Wyatt, an English business strategist, entrepreneur and sporting aficionado, the sport has grown in popularity with the execution of some very successful events and now like all successful products has local competitors.

Similar to the luxury market, which has experienced huge growth, an equally fast growing segment of local industry has been counterfeiting. The sport of kings now also has counterfeits…

So in this world of luxury, it is very important to choose the right partner to guide you through what is real and what is fake.

Premier entertainment, owned by Steve Wyatt has delivered some excellent partnerships for brands like Royal Salute, Cartier, Maserati,  and is now looking to add to their already healthy portfolio of horse, equestrian and Polo events.

For more information please contact Steve on [email protected]