Chanel’s Advent Calendar Comes Under Consumer Scrutiny

What Happened: This year, Chanel launched its first-ever Christmas Advent calendar, stocked with 31 different products, and each of the 1,000 copies priced at 6,055 yuan ($946). However, controversy has followed its release on Weibo after a blogger made a video reviewing Chanel’s offering. The customer found that it contained only five actual Chanel products, while the remaining items — a mix of stickers, bookmarks, and crystal balls — were of little or no value. Netizens called out Chanel for fraud, as the actual value of the box was estimated to be around 2,500 yuan ($391). On Weibo the hashtag #Chanel blindbox# has reached over 46 million views, with the blogger’s video amassing a whopping seven million views.

The Jing Take: As more luxury houses, namely Valentino and Hermès, join the global beauty race, the make-up market in China is becoming ever more crowded as well. Given this, existing players like Chanel and Dior have had to pivot to reach and keep local beauty consumers’ interest. However, Chinese consumers are also increasingly sophisticated and more vigilant to brand’s marketing tactics, and simply relying on a luxury brand’s aura is no longer enough to harvest domestic shoppers’ pockets. Price-value ratio has become an important measurement, as consumers are offered countless options and an increasing number of bloggers are helping them to make the most out of their purchases.

Nonetheless, Gen Z are still craving a gamified shopping experience of “surprise boxes.” For Chinese Valentine’s Day, for example, Lanvin launched a blind box lottery on its WeChat Mini Program, where, for 500 yuan ($77), consumers could enter a drawing to win some prizes — silk scarves, sneakers, and even handbags — redeemable at offline vending machines. The French house smartly converted online traffic to its offline retail stores and received great feedback for the high value items contained in its box.

As for an Advent calendar, it’s all about the value of products included versus the price paid for it. This cannot be stressed enough. For Chanel, the formula didn’t add up. Let this be a lesson for other brands. Although a well-sourced Advent calendar may cost more (and might be less profitable), in the long run, they can help a brand to better connect with the younger generation that’s game to spend on such promotions and help spread the brand’s message in the process. It’s a win-win situation.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

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