02
May
2013

Luxury brand building in China in 2013; 3D, engaging and personal

Prior to 2013, the print media in China was packed with advertising for luxury brands selling cars, fashion, watches, yachts and just about anything because culturally consumers believe that if its in a magazine the brand must be trusted and has the money to be there. Luxury brands of all sizes spent huge sums of cash to be seen in what were multiple publications on a regular basis.

Consumers in China have always regarded the as an arbiter of trust, and being seen in print has been used to build brand awareness and reinforce trust and brand awareness through regular coverage. With no other point of reference many years ago, a magazine was the first place to look for new things and brand names, and of course to see the older familiar brands frequently out in force.

If you are a large enough brand, you will probably have employed a PR agency to buy advertising for you and to pump out news to the media, but this doesn’t come cheap in China. They may be able to save you some money on the regular advertising rates, but you’ll pay for it in terms of their retainer. The challenge for smaller brands and those wanting to establish their name in China, with or without a physical presence is the up front investment required in advertising. The bigger brands have reduced media and event spending this year, but even so how can you compete?

As with most things in China, personal relationships count for a great deal, so to really make any media investment work for you, you need to know the editors of the appropriate media well. If you can do this by working with a local partner who has these connections, and can tell your story directly to the editors for you, the cost and effectiveness of your brand building and story telling will be dramatically higher. The right partner will communicate the way you would if you were there, and can nuance your messages and stories in such a way as to make them interesting and engaging, perhaps in a way a regular PR agency might not.

The Chinese consumer and the luxury sector have moved on in the past 12 months, requiring a closer and more personal relationship to be established if brands are to find a place in people’s hearts and minds. It is no longer about how much money is spent on broadcasting the brand name, but how effectively it is focused on relationship building with your key consumer groups. They want to see personal and passionate engagement and not purely one-dimensional glossy advertisements.

For newly entered brands, or those wanting to raise awareness in China amongst luxury consumers who travel, finding a partner to tell your stories to the media is cost effective and effective. Now is the time to benefit from the lower investment of the big brand names, and to leverage a desire amongst Chinese luxury consumers for new brands and new stories.

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