Market Analysts See Foreign Investments In Chinese Traditional Liquor As Smart Move To Cash In On Emerging High-End Domestic Consumer
LVMH's baijiu joint venture with Wenjun Distillery could be a huge money-maker in China; But will it appeal outside the country?
Although most westerners may be unfamiliar with baijiu, the traditional spirit of China, drinkers within the country have been sipping the powerful, often tear-inducing alcohol for centuries. Less famous abroad than Japanese sake or Korean soju, two of its descendants, baijiu is most certainly big business in China, with the most expensive bottles often selling for more than $10,000 USD. This high-end spectrum, populated by rare bottles produced by only a handful of companies, has apparently garnered the attention of more than one foreign company looking to get a piece of the premium baijiu market, as Diageo bought a 43% share in baijiu producer Sichuan Chengdu Quanxing Group last year and, recently, LVMH Moet Hennessy acquired a 55% stake in one of China’s top producers, Wenjun Distillery.
This acquisition should fit seamlessly with Louis Vuitton Moet Hennissey’s broader China strategy. As we wrote earlier this week, LVMH is making a massive push into the Chinese market, buoyed by figures that indicate China has leapfrogged past traditional luxury markets like the United States this year and should surpass the Japanese market within five years. Acquiring a premium baijiu with real brand pedigree — the first Asian brand to be owned by the LVMH group — is being greeted as a gutsy move, as the high-end baijiu market is both exclusive and highly competitive. As Karen Cho writes, the acquisition of Wenjun has huge potential as incomes grow throughout China, but — as uncharted territory — presents LVMH with a host of new challenges:
“This is the first experience for the whole LVMH group owning an Asian brand,” says Allan Hong, development manager at Sichuan Wenjun Spirits Sales Company. “Because of the great potential in China, the whole group decided to run the Wenjun brand as a super-premium brand in China,” he adds.
Posted in Business, China, Investment, Luxury
Tagged alcohol, baijiu, China, diageo, high-end, liquor, louis vuitton, Luxury, LVMH, moet hennissey, premium, spirits, wenjun, wenjun distillery
Growth Among Chinese Luxury Customers Pushes Them Beyond Japanese, Americans To Become Top Consumers Of LVMH Brands
Chinese drinkers have made the country Hennessy's top market, surpassing the United States
LVMH Moët Hennessy • Louis Vuitton S.A., the mighty global juggernaut, has had a bit of a rough year in the traditionally reliable markets of North America, Japan and Europe. Despite cutbacks in spending in these established markets, however, there have been bright areas for LVMH, namely in emerging markets like China and the other BRIC nations and pockets of Southeast Asia. In regions where LVMH has only operated for a few years, or a few decades at the most, newly rich consumers are opening their wallets and flaunting their wealth in a way never seen before — and all of this translates to high hopes for luxury’s standard bearer.
In the wake of the global economic crisis, China has leapfrogged its developed-world counterparts in many high-end segments, driven mainly by the country’s second-tier urban growth, which — fueled mostly by commodity industries like coal which have not been as badly affected by the downturn — continue to grow and attract foreign investment. Second- and third-tier cities, which have seen high-end foreign boutiques opening up only in the last few years, have been a boon to major foreign brands because customers in these smaller cities present virtually no signs of “luxury fatigue” and feel that expensive luxury brands are an excellent way of conveying their newly found status — the flashier the better.
Earlier this year, China surpassed the United States as the world’s second-largest luxury market, and the country has Japan, #1, firmly in its sights. Many analysts believe that China, given current growth figures, should overtake Japan as the world’s top luxury market within five years. So what does this all mean for luxury brands? Today, the Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Curtin looks into LVMH’s “China Syndrome,” and make the case that where LVMH goes, so goes the luxury industry:
Chinese customers, both at home and on holiday in the shopping malls around the world, have become the biggest buyers of Louis Vuitton clothes and handbags and Hennessy cognac ahead of the Japanese and overtaking Americans.
Posted in Business, China, Economics, Economy, Investment, Luxury
Tagged China, chinese, consumption, global economic crisis, japan, louis vuitton, Luxury, LVMH, LVMH moet hennessy, north america, southeast asia, united states, wall street journal
Spending On Everything From Luxury Cars To Private Jets Shows Ultrarich Chinese Are Unleashing Their Inner Conspicuous Consumer
The exclusive club of "ultra-rich" in China are splurging amid the ongoing global economic doldrums
An interesting blog post today at the Wall Street Journal, where Robert Frank points out that the global economic downturn has turned a new spotlight onto a once-unlikely savior — the Chinese [ultrarich] consumer. While this group is exclusive to say the least, particularly in terms of the miniscule percentage of the Chinese population that can live up to this title, the staggering dropoff of the once mighty American, Japanese and even Russian luxury showoff has pushed the Chinese super-spender into the leading role.
Though Frank’s potential nicknames for this ultrarich group of big spenders — “Deng Xiaoblings,” for one — are a humorous take on the subject, the repercussions of an Eastward shift of conspicuous consumption and luxury shopping sprees could mean a great deal for established western luxury brands. Just as the increased buying power — and desire for diversification — seen among Chinese buyers of everything from gold to real estate to luxury cars to Chinese antiquities and contemporary arts has affected those markets and caused everyone from Bugatti to Sotheby’s to focus far more strongly on the China market than ever before, this China-bound luxury shift could very well change the nature and corporate strategies of the global luxury industry.
From the WSJ:
Purveyors of posh have a new mandate: Go East!
An updated forecast from Bain & Co. out this morning shows a stronger-than-expected rise in luxury sales for Asia–especially China. It said it expects luxury-goods sales in mainland China to jump 12% this year.
Posted in Art, auction, Automobile, Business, China, Chinese Art, Economics, Economy, Luxury
Tagged Art, auction, bugatti, China, chinese contemporary art, contemporary art, Economy, industry, Luxury, LVMH, robert frank, sotheby's, spending, ultrarich, wall street journal, wealth
Fashion Brand Sees Potential To Broaden Foothold In Lucrative, Yet Challenging Fashion Market
Ralph Lauren's sole free-standing location in China is located in Shanghai's luxury Jin Jiang Dickson Center. The company plans to branch out very rapidly in coming years
Wing-Gar Cheng writes for Bloomberg today that American retailer Ralph Lauren hopes to open 15 new stores in China annually in coming years. While the signature Ralph Lauren style has been adapted — or “copied”, depending who you ask — by brands with a long-time presence in China, like South Korea’s E-Land (not to mention counterfeiters throughout the country), the number of free-standing Ralph Lauren locations has remained limited. With the global demand for higher-end items remaining relatively anemic in the North American, Japanese, and European markets — despite improvements — China, with the high potential of its second- and third-tier cities, remains a sought-after target by mid- to higher-range fashion brands like Ralph Lauren.
As Cheng writes, rapid expansion in China is not simply driven by idealism. There is a great deal of untapped potential throughout the underserved mainland, well illustrated by a quote by George Hrdina, president of Ralph Lauren’s Asian business, who said, “We do more Ralph Lauren business on the island of Manhattan, New York, than we do in Hong Kong and China.” Clearly, adding 15 stores per year is less unrealistic than it may initially sound.
Posted in Business, China, Culture, Fashion, Investment, Luxury
Tagged bloomberg, China, chinese, Fashion, hong kong, Luxury, LV, LVMH, mainland china, New York, polo, ralph lauren, wing-gar cheng
Blending Of Art And Luxury Becoming More Common As Commercial Tie-Ins Prove Lucrative For Luxury Brands And Artists Alike
Will the Hermes-obsessed Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi become the first in China to take part in a domestic luxury-art partnership?
Today, Art Market Monitor, by way of Newsweek magazine, looks into the phenomenon of art-luxury commercial tie-ins, which have existed in some form for decades but are becoming more common as well as more commercially viable. We have discussed the art-luxury tie-in before, in our profile of Hong Kong’s “A Passion For Creation” art/product exhibition, organized by Louis Vuitton. But the articles in AMM and Newsweek point out some interesting nuances about the art/luxury collaboration.
AMM summarizes the article very concisely as one in which the writer “wonders about Vacheron’s new line of $367,000 watches inspired by African and Oceanic masks, Ikepod’s Jeff Koons watches and Louis Vuitton’s association with just about everyone else. (Okay, just Richard Prince and Takashi Murakami.)” But building on some of the observations in our articles about the melding of art and luxury, and how much of these partnerships can be boiled down to market necessity (as many luxury and art buyers may continue scaling back amid the ongoing slow economy), Newsweek’s Nick Foulkes expertly breaks down how the separate spheres inhabited by the arts and luxury brands are, rather than being entirely separate, have a symbiotic, Venn diagrammatic relationship.
Posted in Art, Business, China, Chinese Art, Culture, Fashion, Investment, Luxury
Tagged Art, chanel, ferrari, frank gehry, gucci, hermes, hong kong, louis vuitton, Luxury, LVMH, maserati, mondrian, prada, range rover, rem koolhaas, seoul, yves saint laurent, zaha hadid, zeng fanzhi
Demand For High-End Liquor Remains Strong In China, Following Massive Turnout At Wine Auctions Earlier This Year
Huge in China - Martell's $3,600 per bottle L'Or cognac
Bloomberg reports that cognac brand Martell has sold out of its $3,600-per-bottle L’Or cognac, mainly because of strong demand in the Chinese market, where cognac has increased in popularity rapidly over the past 15 years. As developed markets like the US become less dependable in the face of economic concerns and consumer cut-backs, distillers have had to look eastward, and the growing popularity of cognac, wine and other liqueurs has counteracted the falling demand in other global markets.
In East Asia, much of the success of cognac depends on the China market, where Chinese drinkers have responded well to branding and marketing efforts of brands like Martell and Hennessy, and brand tie-ins have boosted the visibility and consumer recognition of major brands. And although Martell still lags behind Hennessy in the Chinese market, major initiatives like television sponsorship and bar promotions have significantly boosted their market share in the last few years. As an earlier Bloomberg article points out, “[Martell’s parent company] Pernod has established a strong foothold in the Chinese market, overtaking Rémy Cointreau Group for second place, with 26% market share, compared with Rémy’s 20%, as of 2007, the latest data available from Euromonitor. Both companies still lag behind leader LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which holds a 44% market share.”
Posted in Business, China, Luxury
Tagged alcohol, China, cognac, hennessy, l'or, liquor, louis vuitton, LVMH, martell, moet, pernod, remy cointreau
Brands, Companies With Limited Knowledge Of Cultural Buying Habits, Brand Recognition Face Difficulty Even In World’s Fastest-Growing Market
Porsche has worked hard to prove to potential buyers in China that they are a critical part of the brand's global strategy, choosing the Shanghai Auto Show as the venue to debut their new Panamera Turbo
This week, Reuters wrote on the difficulties that many brands have encountered when trying to enter or expand in the Chinese market. Although many like to think that Chinese consumers will be ready and willing to snap up any and all imported luxury goods, the difficulties often lie not so much in the products themselves or their prices, but in their marketing and branding techniques. Everything from the transliteration of a foreign luxury brand’s name to its “localization” strategy to advertising and consumer outreach can mean the difference between an imported brand becoming the next LVMH or BMW (two brands that have excelled in China) and brands that have only managed to break even or have given up on the Mainland altogether.
Over the last couple of months, several articles have tried to explain the phenomenon of the Chinese luxury consumer — the opportunity and difficulties inherent in this massive and growing consumer base. Why will they save for months to buy a Gucci handbag, yet will pass up the lower-priced yet still-luxury Coach bag? Why will the white-collar office lady sacrifice her food budget for a Gucci wallet yet remain indifferent to Prada? Why have some (mainly European) brands attracted this important luxury buyer base while other brands leave them cold? Much of the answer seems to come back to the cultural particularities of the Chinese middle- and upper-class, particularities that set them apart from other Asian consumers and illustrate how different they are from other global buyers.
Posted in Automobile, Business, China, Economics, Economy, Fashion, Investment, Luxury
Tagged bmw, China, china daily, gucci, LV, LVMH, panamera, porsche
Growth Of Brands Like Gucci, Burberry In The Mainland Shows Growing Faith In Chinese Consumer Among Western Luxury Retailers
Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton have stormed the mainland in the last five years, growing quickly even in second- and third-tier cities, as consumption rates in developed markets slow
As signs that the worst of the economic crisis may have passed are increasingly pointed out by Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal and others, attention has spread to the beleaguered global luxury market. While growth in this market has come to a screeching halt in traditional markets like Japan and North America as consumers cut back, analysts have predicted that the corresponding rise of the Chinese consumer — a rise that has been expedited by the Chinese government’s rapid shift to promoting a consumer-based, rather than export-based, growth plan — helps luxury brands ride out the ongoing global slowdown. According to many luxury CEOs, the key to their brands’ continued survival and expansion in this market lies solely in emerging markets like Russia and China. So the question has become, will it be enough to keep these brands afloat?
Posted in Business, China, Culture, Fashion, Luxury
Tagged bloomberg, BRIC, China, chinese government, christian dior, consumer, gucci, hennessy, japan, louis vuitton, Luxury, LVMH, recession, russia, seeking alpha, versace, wall street journal
Hong Kong Becoming The Meeting Place For Art And Luxury
Louis Vuitton x Stephen Sprouse
In the ongoing economic downturn, major luxury companies are getting more creative in their branding and marketing approaches, even in luxury-happy East Asia. With luxury sales projected to see their first recession in recent memory this year, with some figures expecting a decline of 7% in 2009, luxury companies are looking to emerging markets like China and India, which have vast consumer bases and plenty of newly-monied potential buyers who, unlike many of their counterparts in the developed world, are new to the luxury market and still willing and eager to part with cash. As Guo Zuli, director of the World Luxury Research Center, said in a recent interview, Chinese buyers are still very new to luxury products — therefore, they are not expected to display the same level of “luxury fatigue” of western or Japanese buyers in 2009. Luxury marketers see that potential already, and if they’re smart they will turn their attention to growing this revenue stream as western demand falters — since western demand will stay relatively weak in the near and possibly the long term.
Posted in Art, Business, China, Chinese Art, Culture, Luxury
Tagged andreas gursky, Art, basquiat, bertrand lavier, cao fei, Chinese Art, christian marclay, dominique gonzalez-foerster, Fashion, gilbert & george, hong kong, jeff koons, louis vuitton, LVMH, paul chan, pierre guyghe, richard prince, stephen sprouse, takashi murakami, yang fudong