Comite Colbert And Sina Jointly Develop Site Promoting French Luxury Brands In China

Site Designed To Tap In To China’s Budding Luxury Consumer Culture By Showcasing Many Of France’s Top Brands

Comite Colbert's site was launched this week at the Chinese embassy in Paris to much fanfare. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Comite Colbert's site was launched this week at the Chinese embassy in Paris to much fanfare. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

While French luxury goods remain popular among China’s high-end shoppers, France has struggled over the last two years to shake a poor public image in China, which has dogged relations  between the two countries to varying degrees since the Olympic torch relays of early 2008. Perhaps in an attempt to combat lingering PR issues, Comite Colbert — a Paris-based organization that represents roughly 70 French luxury brands — has partnered with Sina, China’s top ISP, to create a trilingual (English, French, and Chinese) luxury portal designed to showcase a wide range of French luxury goods. Although the site will not allow viewers to purchase any of these goods, the huge push that French luxury retailers and fashion boutiques have made in mainland China over the past few years should make it relatively easy for interested viewers to find many of these items in major Chinese cities.

As the AP writes, the launch of Comite Colbert took place in Paris this last week with the Chinese ambassador, Kong Quan, in attendance:

China’s ambassador in France, Kong Quan, highlighted how recent changes in the country — with its rapidly rising standard of living and population of 1.3 billion — have made it luxury’s new El Dorado.

“Do you realize that 30 years ago, the three treasures in a Chinese household were a bike, a watch and perhaps a sewing machine?” asked Kong. “Today 1 million cars per month are sold in China and the car is no longer considered a treasure.”

“I am convinced of French brands’ ability to constantly create new high-end products that please Chinese consumers,” he said, adding that organizers hope the site will initially reach up to 200 million people in China.

Speaking to The Associated Press, Dior CEO Sidney Toledano hailed the site as “an extremely original, creative and I’d say state-of-the-art way to communicate,” with China’s potential consumers.

French brands are present in nearly 70 Chinese cities, with 45 new boutiques opening between 2009-2010 alone, a statement from the Comite Colbert said.

Outreach efforts like Comite Colbert’s site — which gains additional validity through the association with Sina — are probably going to be a popular PR idea for luxury brands from all over the world in China. If there is one thing that younger Chinese luxury fans have shown, it is that they’re plugged in to trends and love to learn as much as they can about the most popular brands and fashions. Interactive sites like Comite Colbert’s could, if done properly, improve Chinese perceptions of foreign luxury goods (perceptions that are already pretty favorable) and help foreign brands that have not yet entered China get their collective foot in the door.