Reaching over the wall and staying relevant

Accessing the Chinese consumer post Covid-19

I recently gave a presentation on this topic via a livestream and felt that I should also include it in my blog as the more the virus situation worsens in Europe and the USA, the more important these words of advice have become.

Anybody working in or watching the global luxury markets will have seen the decline in sales in every territory around the world since the virus with the exception of China where domestic sales have increased significantly for exactly the same reason; the Chinese consumer is now ‘trapped’ in mainland China, and is spending here.

Looking back prior to the virus, the Chinese consumers became conditioned to recognise and desire global luxury brands, they were very used to buying online after an initial experience of the brand and its products, and are very accepting of cross border transactions, delivery and duties. All the boxes were ticked to ensure that under circumstances like those we now find ourselves in there would be little hesitation to continue spending when the time arose.

The challenge for many but the largest global luxury brands is the lack of visibility inside the invisible no-fly wall that surrounds China. Their task was never an easy one even when the Chinese were flying to London, Paris, Milan and New York because they still had relatively low visibility. But now what are their options?

Simply put they need their brand and its products to be seen and presented to the appropriate target audience inside China. Their challenge assuming that they don’t have an office and staff in country boils down to finding an experienced partner that has the necessary experience and connections with their target demographic to do this.

This partner needs to ensure the brand has a voice that resonates with local issues and trends inside China, the ability to bring groups of target consumers together to experience the brands products, and a means to maintain and develop the consumer connections with the brand. If the partner does this and the brand has a means to offer an ecommerce cross border sales channel, the doors are open.

It is not possible to do the latter on its own, and doing the latter without the voice and physical product introductions first will not work either. Trust and storytelling are two major pillars of Chinese culture, there is no shortcut past or round them, and a physical team representing the brand and singing the praises of the product, simply put is the only solution.

If you don’t want your brand left in the cold outside of the wall surrounding China for the next few years at least, you need to take positive action now and find that partner. We ourselves are fortunate to be on the inside of the wall as we have been for over ten years working in the luxury sector and building strong relationships with affluent consumers, we can help.

It wasn’t luck that got us here, and although the virus is not a good thing for anyone, maybe it’s a case of the right place at the right time.