Jing Daily’s monthly Chinese Collabs column looks at the China-related collaborations and drops that are transforming the luxury landscape. From local fashion brands to C-beauty, virtual idols to NFTs, and KOLS to lifestyle and games, it offers a curated selection of what’s dropping and the trends behind them.
Sales of cherry blossom season-themed products in China this year hit $1.16 billion (8 billion RMB) on Tmall, with Gen Z and millennials accounting for over 70 percent of transactions, according to the platform. Notably, demand increased three fold, compared to 2021.
Given the lucrative opportunity of rising demand, brands such as Diptyque, Starbucks, and Guerlain, have turned some of their popular products a cherry-pink and created exclusive collaborations to reach young consumers. But they have to be quick.
“The cherry blossom season is very short. You have to wait a year if you miss it,” Jonathan Yan, principal at Munich-headquartered management consultancy Roland Berger, told Jing Daily. He believes the theme is suitable for limited edition products.
Though many consumer businesses have already deployed a cherry blossom theme, “brands need to come out with innovative ideas to distinguish themselves,” says Yan.
Jing Daily analyzes three of this year’s notable cherry blossom season collaborations and how they resonate with homegrown consumers.
Guerlain x Ateliers Vermont
For the past few years, French fragrance label Guerlain has annually created a new limited-edition Cherry Blossom bottle to pay homage to the popular custom of viewing cherry blossoms. For 2023, the brand partnered with Parisian embroidery house Ateliers Vermont to decorate its iconic bee bottle.
The neck of the bottle, adorned with golden and tubular beads along the body, is tied with a pink grosgrain bow. Hand-stitched to it is a cherry branch embroidered with fine golden thread. The flowers on the stem are created with delicate tulles adorned with pink, red, and transparent beads.
Despite the high price range, a bottle retails for $760 (5,300 RMB), the sophisticated collaboration was well-received by netizens. The tie-up generated $393,000 (2.7 million RMB) in Media Impact Value (MIV), according to Launchmetrics.
“The addition of cherry elements resonates with the brand DNA, without being cliché,” Yan from Roland Berger says.
Harmay x Horoy
Chinese multi-brand beauty store Harmay partnered with Japanese light liquor brand Horoy to create a cherry-tasting beverage and decorated its stores in pink hues to fully immerse consumers in the streets of Japan, where appreciating sakura, or cherry blossom, is a national spring pastime.
The initiative prompted many consumers to visit the store and share pictures from their visits online. On its official Xiaohongshu account, Harmay announced it had prepared 60 gift boxes containing the limited-edition beverage, Nars’ Orgasm blusher, and L’Occitane’s lip balm for users, selected through a lottery system, who share their experiences on the lifestyle platform using specified hashtags. The gift inducement helped the collaboration generate $21,700 (150,000 RMB) MIV, per Launchmetrics data.
Founded in 2017, Harmay is a domestic multi-brand beauty retailer that sells small-sized cosmetics of Chinese and international brands for less than $15 (100 RMB). Thanks to its budget-friendly price point and social media-friendly boutique interior, it soon attracted the attention of younger consumers.
My Clarins x Nowwa
Coffee culture is spreading among young students and white-collar workers, and more and more beauty and fashion brands are partnering with coffee shops to reach China’s young shoppers.
Clarins’ skincare line dedicated to teenagers — My Clarins — has also tapped the trend. For this spring, it tied up with entry-price point Nowwa coffee chain to create exclusive cherry blossom-themed coffees and gifted samples of its products.
By leveraging coffee culture and cherry blossom fever, My Clarins has united two trends in one initiative. The tactic helped the brand boost awareness of its products among young Chinese shoppers. According to Launchmetrics, the collaboration generated $20,900 (143,000 RMB) in MIV.
Though Yan argues that the collaboration did not align with the beauty brand’s image, he agrees that the marketing strategies would resonate with younger demographics. “No matter what, promotions like buying a coffee and getting free face cream samples are highly attractive to Gen Z. They are ‘newness’ and cost-friendly-driven,” he says.
The short cherry blossom season comprises a goldmine of opportunity for consumer brands, with businesses marketing limited edition spring products in season-exclusive cherry pink shades or flavors. But should more luxury players follow suit?
While the tactic works for beauty and beverage brands, luxury houses need to take into consideration their brand’s affinity with the theme. “When it comes to luxury brands, it is crucial to find concepts that fit the brand tone,” adds Yan.
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