Monday, March 4, 2024

Luxury shopping over extended holiday heating up

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People choose products in a duty-free shop in Haikou, South China”s Hainan province on Jan 26, 2023. [Photo/VCG]

Several interesting trends and phenomena are emerging related to some of this year’s luxury and consumer brand designs amid the highly lucrative Chinese New Year shopping season.

Luxury and consumer brands are gearing up to enhance revenues with designs for the Year of Dragon, which begins on Feb 10 this year.

The symbolism of the mythical beast, deeply rooted in Chinese culture, embodies power, prosperity and a promising future.

A designer working for a world-renowned consumer brand, who asked to be identified only as Zhang, emphasized the importance of respecting the dragon’s symbolism in design rather than excessive innovations.

“The dragon’s symbolism is deeply rooted in Chinese culture and folklore. It is probably the most significant zodiac sign and has a majestic presence,” Zhang said.

As Chinese customers will account for 35-40 percent of the personal luxury goods market globally by 2030, it is vital to drive growth in the Chinese market, according to the latest Bain & Company report with Altagamma, an Italian luxury goods industry association.

The global luxury market is projected to reach 1.5 trillion euros ($1.62 trillion) in 2023, an 8-10 percent growth over 2022, setting a new record for the industry and proving its unparalleled resilience.

The report found that in 2023, the Chinese mainland posted a strong performance after its first quarter, but slowed progressively as the year moved forward. Looking ahead, the tropical island province of Hainan is expected to grow as a shining luxury goods shopping hub, and is set to become an entirely duty-free island by 2025.

Brands are seeking inspiration from dragon-related themes by integrating traditional Chinese culture with modern aesthetics.

However, some brands have faced less than glowing reviews online.

For example, the Burberry Chinese New Year series, including turtleneck sweaters sporting houndstooth patterns, is considered by many netizens to resemble braided polypropylene bags — often used to carry bulk items during holiday journeys.

A short-sleeved shirt graced with rosy floral patterns is likened to a large plate of pork. One online observer wrote: “The shirt reminds me of fresh pork ready for the hotpot.”

Summer Liu, a financial analyst in Beijing, however, said she likes Burberry’s seasonal rosy floral prints accentuated by vibrant reds.

“I like how subtly they combine the iconic Burberry elements with symbolic colors of the Chinese Lunar New Year,” Liu said.

Dior’s collaboration with Otani collections sparked debate on whether dinosaurs equate to dragons. Japanese cosmetic brand Shu Uemura’s lipsticks incorporate dragon scales into their designs.

Some designs from luxury houses have led to more complimentary reviews.

Louis Vuitton’s gilded dragon installations, crafted by artisans in China and inspired by Pharrell Williams’ collection, display a successful strategy in connecting cultural narratives with product offerings to attract Chinese New Year shoppers.

Cristina Wang, a marketing executive who visited Louis Vuitton installations in Beijing, said she was impressed by the giant dragons.

“It shows LV is confident about the market and they have a respect for local culture,” said Wang.

Designer Zhang said it is all about knowing your audience and offering real value.

“Modern Chinese consumers seek value not only in the brand itself but also in packaging and design,” he said.

“For international brands to thrive locally, it goes beyond brand power. Productivity is essential. Understanding the needs of Chinese consumers requires trust in designing teams that are well-versed in the nuances of the local market. Striking a balance between breakthrough innovations and maintaining the loyalty of existing consumers while gaining new ones is crucial for sustained success in the Chinese market,” Zhang added.

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