Countries Use Shanghai Expo To Boost Brands’ Visibility

Lesser-Known Australian, European Brands Hope To Leapfrog Into Chinese Market

Golla's limited-edition backpacks have been a hit at the Shanghai World Expo

Golla's limited-edition backpacks have been a hit at the Shanghai World Expo

Since it kicked off two months ago, we’ve established that the Shanghai World Expo has been a great platform for major global luxury brands — particularly those from Italy or France — to display and ply their limited-edition wares. But the Expo is also providing some valuable visibility for a number of lesser-known companies from countries that Chinese consumers don’t yet associate with distinctive luxury brands.

As Shanghai Daily points out today, pavilions are showcasing everything from Australian wool to Finnish bags in what is certainly a “win-win” for Chinese consumers (who benefit from more choice) and foreign manufacturers (who get a chance to easily reach this captive audience). From the article:

Mention Australia and people think of all the pleasing attractions of the Land Down Under – sandy beaches, lush farms, tropical rainforests, cuddly koalas and ubiquitous kangaroos.

But they may not think of famous ultra-fine Merino wool.

“The Merino wool is as diverse as the Australian landscape from which it comes,” says Sam Guthrie, general manager of Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) in China. “It is a 100 percent natural life fiber, which we believe to be the most flexible fiber in the world.”

AWI recently held an autumn/winter fashion presentation in the Australia Pavilion at the World Expo Shanghai site. The show featured the latest product ranges by local fashion brands using the luxurious material. Models displayed creative fashion pieces in innovative textile forms of wool.

“We think the Expo Shanghai is the perfect platform for us to launch the new collections, with its theme being ‘Better City, Better Life,’ while we truly believe in ‘Better Life, Better Fiber’,” Guthrie says.

Along with manufacturers’ associations, the Expo has been good for individual brands looking to make a name for themselves among Shanghai’s urban middle class.

The Finland Pavilion is for tech fans seeking all kinds of the latest digital products, as well as colorful, useful bags and cases to carry them.

Golla, winner of the Finnish “Company of the Year” in 2009, specializes in developing fashionable, innovative bags for portable electronics, from mobile phones to laptops, from digital cameras to electronic music devices.

A “Golla Day” was celebrated recently in the Finland Pavilion, featuring a fashion show presenting the brand’s latest products, and a tour around the Finland Pavilion, where Golla’s innovative designs are part of the exhibition.

The company has also collaborated with Nokia, launching two cases specially designed for two mobile phones making their debut at the Expo.

At a charity auction, three of Golla’s limited edition bags – a cabin-size trolley, a women’s carry-all bag and a messenger bag – were sold for 15,000 yuan (US$2,197).

All the proceeds were donated to the earthquake survivors in Yushu, Qinghai Province.

Being proactive in the market, catering directly to the tastes of Chinese consumers by creating exclusive limited editions, and donating to Chinese charities. It looks like Golla has done its homework on success in China, 2010-style. We noticed that it has a functional Chinese-language website — now let’s just hope Golla’s Digital IQ is high enough to fully cash in.

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