Luxury Companies Are Making Budding Aficionados of Chinese Consumers

on October 3 2013 | in Lifestyle Retail Trends | by | with No Comments

Johnnie Walker, Johnnie Walker House, scotch, China

Luxury is all about the experience. This is the current trend that is taking over the Chinese luxury market.

Foundational to providing the “experience” is providing the other “E’s”, education and expertism. What is driving this push for experiential luxury? At its heart – and not unlike other wealthy consumers – wealthy Chinese consumers have a deep desire to become aficionados for a myriad of reasons, but largely for status, and companies are eager to satisfy that desire.

Giving Chinese consumers the experience is a strategy that is being pursued by luxury companies. Luxury automakers are opening museums and experience centers and luxury retailers are holding photography and art exhibits.

In a recent Spikes Asia Forum the vice president and senior creative director of Jack Morton Worldwide, Dan Carter, cautioned his audience against offering luxury goods without luxury experiences, reports Campaign Asia.

Carter noted that two brands in particular – whisky distillery Johnnie Walker and luxury car superstar Porsche – have fine-tuned their marketing strategies for Chinese consumers and have benefited from it. He believes more brands need to rethink their presence in the marketplace. “Consumers ask, ‘What is this brand going to say about me,’ and this presents an enormous opportunity for luxury brands,” Carter said.

Johnnie Walker, for instance, didn’t just open up two stores in Beijing and Shanghai – they opened “experiential brand centers.” Carter explained that this initiative grew out of the consumers’ desire to learn – they could afford whisky, but they couldn’t understand it, he said. The stores rely upon high-energy experiences – Johnnie Walker’s experts went out to swanky city bars to find whisky drinkers and then invited them back to the Johnnie Walker Houses, which feature bars, museums, and a members-only area.

“There is no one-size-fits-all strategy in luxury marketing,” Carter said, which is why Johnnie Waker’s tiered approach was particularly good. Porsche, also, incorporated tiers into their strategy when they realized that few Chinese consumers understood what Porsche was besides an expensive car.

Together with Jack Morton Worldwide, Porsche launched a multicity road show to re-introduce the brand to consumers. At the core of the event were the four values of the brand: Porsche’s racing history, DNA, lifestyle, and performance. There was also a large online component of the road show, including an interactive experience center. Once again, top restaurants and venues were tapped to distribute fliers.

While the event was open to the general public, the Porsche owners and potential owners were the ones allowed to drive on the racetrack, which the general public could only visit. VIPs got personal tours of the Porsche museum, whereas the public got audio tours.

Carter believes that offering experiences helps consumers make the transition from “rich” to “noble” – becoming educated, sophisticated, and self-aware.



photo credit: johnnie walker

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