Affluent Chinese shoppers are said to be particularly in love with luxury products from France. The “Made in France” stamp definitely has huge allure with Chinese millennials and GenZees. A report by McKinsey in 2019, confirms that China’s Millennial and Gen Z demographics are an affluent and growing middle class that are very interested in international luxury goods – and in particular French luxury goods. It is a potential bonanza in the coming decade for luxury brands already doing business in the region, or those looking for a point of entry.
Chinese millennials (and Gen Z right behind them), on average, have purchasing power unmatched by any other generation in the country’s history. Indeed, their disposable income may exceed that of just about every other country right now and this is great for luxury brands because these young consumers love to shop international brands and they love to spend “big” when they do spend. As it turns out, French luxury brands in China outsell those of any other country including Italy, UK and the United States. (McKinsey)
In this post, I would like to highlight five luxury French brands (or premium brands) that are loved by the Chinese. Of course, no list of luxury French brands that are loved by affluent Chinese shoppers would even begin to make any sense without the triple threat of Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Dior. These are probably the top 3 luxury French brands that Chinese consumers flock to both in store and online. That is a given. But in this article, I would like to highlight 5 other brands. In no particular order, they are:
Chinese women (and men) love the L’Oréal brand and the L’Oréal brand loves them back. Indeed, L’Oréal has been devising its strategy for their seduction for over a decade. To wit, in 2013, Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman and CEO, L’Oréal Group, said:
“Chinese consumers are at the heart of L’Oréal’s focus and energies. A potential 250 million new Chinese consumers will be using L’Oréal’s products in the next 10 to 15 years, making China the number one contributor to our ambition of winning 1 billion new consumers and to our strategy of universalization. A significant portion of these consumers will be recruited by our Luxe brands, the segment where L’Oréal has historically led the market and where it will continue to influence the shape of its future.” https://www.loreal-finance.com/eng/news-events/loreal-invents-luxury-beauty-tomorrow-china
Has L’Oréal achieved its objective of “universalization” as of 2020? It is a question for the experts but they certainly have won over a huge market share of Chinese women who love their products.
Young Chinese consumers will be pleased to learn that in addition to their superior expertise with creating beauty, personal care and hair products-specifically tailored to them- L’Oréal prides itself on its “sustainability” achievements as well. This is an issue dear to many Asian consumers. L’Oréal has indicated that it has implemented a “sustainability plan” to be sure that their products are free of animal testing and harmful chemicals, and that their supply chain complies with, or surpasses, industry standards for eco-friendliness.
The company also claims to be on the cutting edge of technology used to improve the customer experience – in particular, their digital experience. L’Oreal has technology in place, for example, called “augmented reality,” where customers can try make-up and hairstyles digitally. Consumers in the Asia market seem to respond to that well.
L’Oréal’s brand ambassadors reflect their claim of “universality.” They include Li Yuchun, Penelope Cruise, Eva Longoria, Julianne Moore, Duckie Thot and Andie McDowell, among other.
2. MOET AND CHANDON
It turns out that Chinese consumers enjoy consuming alcoholic beverages – especially wines, champagnes and sparkling drinks – and this is good for the bottom line of LVMH (Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton). Moet Hennessy is a formidable luxury French brand in the spirits industry as everyone is aware. Indeed, Moet & Chandon is pretty much a French institution with a very long history and heritage, and is well respected around the world-including in China-for its wine-making savoir faire. Since 1743, Moët & Chandon has been “passing down unequaled winemaking savoir-faire and an innovative and pioneering spirit from generation to generation.” In 2011, with the growing luxury market and the love for consuming French champagne in mind, Moet & Chandon began a partnership with a Chinese house – Domaine Chandon, Ningxia – in Ningxia, China, to grow its vines and produce champagnes in China. The business is huge and is expanding. As is the Chinese love of Moet & Chandon.
This Chinese-owned French brand is popular among Chinese millennials. That could be why the company’s sales in China were particularly strong as compared to other regions, including in France itself where the company has experienced millions in lost revenues because of social protests in the Hexagone. To wit: “Momentum in Asia Pacific slowed from the previous three months, but mainland China was particularly strong, the group said. In France, SMCP had to shut some stores on successive Saturdays in November and early December along with its rivals due to anti-government ‘yellow vest’ protests, costing the firm 4 million euros in lost revenue, Lalonde said.”
Sandro is not really classified as a “luxury brand” per se. It is more middle tier. But for some consumers a middle tier like Sandro is an investment, and a luxury. And the fact that it is French (though Chinese owned) adds to its cachet.
Cartier is a quintessentially French brand, created in 1847. It is a brand that has known royalty as its clients, and this includes French queen Marie Antoinette. In the article, How Chinese Culture Influenced Cartier, there are said to be many Chinese influences in Cartier jewelry designs over the years, including Chinese designs dating back to the Ming Dynasty:
“A new exhibition at the Palace Museum’s newly renovated Meridian Gate in Beijing offers visitors an opportunity to appreciate the significant cultural connections the celebrated French jeweler has with China, but also to look at the cross-cultural influence European travelers, such as Jesuit painters like Giuseppe Castiglione or the various clockmakers who visited the country had on the Chinese imperial court, with 800 pieces dating from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) onward.”
According to Wikipedia, “Cartier is regarded as one of the most prestigious jewelry manufacturers in the world.” Perhaps a part of the reason that young Chinese consumers love the brand and think of it as “prestigious” is because of the cultural connections with China. Modern Chinese culture continue to influence the brand, but more than that, young Chinese consumers regard Cartier as one of the most desirable French brands to invest in and own
In 2012, Balmain touched down in Harbour City, Hong Kong with its first boutique on “Chinese” soil. Since then (and perhaps even before that) Balmain has been courting Chinese luxury consumers with gusto. For Chinese Valentine’s day in 2019 for example, Balmain created exclusive designs on gifts specifically tailored to the Chinese on SECOO (a leading Chinese premium lifestyle platform).
In a September 2019 press release from Alibaba Group, Balmain was revealed one of several luxury brands that are included in the NET-A -PORTER flagship store that was launched in Tmall Luxury Pavilion in China. The collaborators of this project include Richemont (Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels), Yoox (website in the high growth luxury e-commerce sector with over 3.5 million high end shoppers), and the Alibaba Group.
The Balmain brand is relatively contemporary having been created in 1945 by Pierre Balmain. Nevertheless the brand’s combination of old French savoir faire with modernity at the helm of current Artistic director Olivier Rousteing is very appealing to customers. Mr Rousteing brings a certain street style/American reality TV star element to the brand that young Chinese consumers find intriguing.