Bosideng, the largest down-clothing brand in China, has been expanding into the global market since 1992, making this push fully happen in 2012. With 15.6 percent revenue growth ($849 million) over the first half of FY22 and being number one globally in down-jacket sales from July to August 2021, Bosideng is undoubtedly growing both in and out of its local market.
But the brand’s globalization journey has not been smooth over the past decade. In fact, they have encountered significant difficulties like many other Chinese brands that have had their sights set on the global market.
What is Bosideng’s biggest struggle in building a global brand?
In 2012 Bosideng opened a $46-million store in London, but it failed to gain traction and closed after operating for just five years. Even though they had a prominent location in London, people barely knew anything about the brand or its story. As such, Bosideng could not attract British customers.
Bosideng’s struggles highlight what many Chinese companies are experiencing during their expansion journeys into the global market. Their most significant problems have been learning how to build brand equity by creating an emotional and personal connection with consumers, which Western brands already know how to do. Burberry and Unilever have built their brand names — along with their customer bases — over decades. Western brands clearly understand the power of branding and storytelling, but Chinese brands — especially consumer-facing businesses — gained success by establishing strong sales and distribution channels rather than name equity.
For example, you can see the Chinese smartphone brand OPPO everywhere in China, from big cities to small towns. They garnered their brand equity through offline presentations while focusing on sales and distribution. This description is the traditional Chinese way to expand a brand. It’s difficult for Chinese brands to understand that to succeed in the West, they must change their brand equity-building strategy while adapting to market and consumer expectations accordingly.
For Bosideng to build its brand and penetrate global markets — specifically Western ones — it must craft a brand story and emotionally connect with customers. As a company with high-end technology and production abilities, it is well equipped to grow resonant campaigns for Western consumers. That will be essential for success abroad.
How has Bosideng made significant strides in the international market?
Over the past few years, Bosideng has reopened its flagship store in London and over 350 high-end retail stores in Italy. Its collaborations with international designers, coupled with fashion shows in London, Milan, and New York, assisted Bosideng in making progress in the international market. For example, the French designer and former creative director at Hermès, Jean Paul Gaultier, partnered with Bosideng to create a new generation of down jackets: the JPGaultier X Bosideng, which demonstrated the brand’s design strength while gaining recognition from global fashion icons globally. With endorsement from celebrities like Nicole Kidman, Kendall Jenner, and Tom Hiddleston, Bosideng has been able to gain more influence and a better foothold in the overseas market. And its collaborations have helped increase brand awareness in the West while positively impacting sales.
Bosideng was included in the Brand Finance Apparel 50 for the first time in 2021, highlighting how much the brand has grown globally over the past few years. The list, released by Brand Finance, is one of the top five international brand valuations on the market, with only Bosideng and Moncler selected as down jacket brands.
Can Bosideng compete against Canada Goose and Moncler in the global market?
It is difficult to beat out Canada Goose and Moncler, but there is a way to stand out and differentiate from these competitors and find sustained success in the down jacket market. Creating evocative campaigns that leverage Chinese heritage would help the brand stand out from global competitors while showing uniqueness and engaging with Western audiences.
Since more and more people are starting to move away from the negative connotations from “Made in China” and towards positive phrases like “Designed in China,” the brand can use this as a talking point with Western Gen Zers and millennials. For Bosideng, life should be less about trying to beat Western brands and more about focusing on how to build a global brand that is proud of its roots. And Bosideng can make this happen with their already-strong strategies.