While the appointment of controversial actress Angelababy as the brand ambassador for Christian Dior stirred up much controversy in China in May, it may not have been such a bad move for the brand after all. According to a report released this month by RTG Consulting Group (RTG), the French luxury powerhouse has been named the most relevant luxury label by China’s Generation-Z (a group that ranges in age from 15-24). And Angelababy‘s extreme popularity among this age group shows that her appointment was one of the smartest moves the 70-year-old fashion brand has made to reinvigorate its image in China.
According to the “Brand Relevance Report 2017,” the brand is believed to be highly effective at inspiring Chinese youth to express the cultural values and philosophy they stand for, which transcends the traditional cultural norms. That is an important ability for luxury brands to master if they want to stay relevant with this young population. Chanel and Swarovski are the next two most relevant luxury labels among China’s millennial youth, respectively.
“The young generation is really moving away from materialism to embrace (values such as) playfulness and mindfulness,” Marc Arnold, the Chief Strategy Officer of RTG as well as the author of the 2017 relevance report, told Jing Daily. “Dior is good at inspiring expression (of these shifting cultural values) that goes beyond the tradition and norms. Plus, [the brand] also has good visual campaigns that are appealing to young people.”
The 2017 relevance report surveyed 5,000 Chinese consumers from first-tier cities (Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Chengdu) to get a sense of how they perceive the relevance of 300 international and domestic brands to their daily life.
It categorizes these surveyed brands into nine sectors including luxury, personal care, beauty and hospitality. By “relevance,” RTG refers to the ability of a brand to establish a strong and emotive relationship with consumers and stand for something that truly matters to their lives.
Under the luxury category, Chanel, with an average score of 6.7, stands at the top of the ranking as the most relevant luxury label in China, among all age groups, in 2017. According to the report, the brand has catered to Chinese clientele with a diverse product offering ranging from well-designed handbags to fragrance and beauty products. In addition, Chanel’s social media campaigns and celebrity endorsements have pushed the level of the brand’s relevance among the digital-savvy Chinese consumers even further.
However, given the success of Dior among the younger generations, whether or not a brand is able to inspire its consumers seem to be highly important. In order to gauge this quality, RTG dubs it the “passionate” metric. Dior has secured a score of 8.4 under the “passionate” metric, outperforming Chanel (7.4), Gucci (7.6) and Cartier (6.6), among others.
Another interesting finding from the report is that Burberry ranks relatively low in comparison to the strong rebound of its market recognition and sales in China. Earlier this month, Burberry’s first quarterly report presented a better-than-expected global growth, with its Chief Financial Officer Julie Brown highlighting the contribution from Chinese consumers.
The brand was only ranked 17th on the list with a relevance score of 4.7. The passionate score is also low at 5.9. That finding seems particularly counterintuitive given that the brand has frequently worked with the pop singer Kris Wu who has a huge young Chinese fan base.
“This might be related to its country of origin,” said Arnold. “Britain is not a country that is known for triggering creativity and playfulness, compared to France, for example.”
“What’s more important, Burberry is more perceived as an icon of fashion, not luxury, in China.”
The rest of the report contains many other insights. For instance, the concept of the luxury lifestyle that is led by the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts is successful in growing the brand’s relevance among Chinese consumers, making it the top brand in the hospitality field.
Estee Lauder, the most relevant beauty brand in China, shows that consumers buy into the rich history and heritage of this French label. Its prominence also derives from their “large-scale campaigns across strategic media platforms using well-chosen celebrities.”
Meanwhile, a number of domestic Chinese brands including Huawei, WeChat and Yili have all seen their relevance surging in 2017, signifying the rising influence of Chinese brands across the globe.