Luxury brands in China have found fertile ground in which to practice the “drop” retail model that they have borrowed from the Western streetwear industry in recent years: the WeChat mini-program.
French luxury powerhouse Louis Vuitton, following in the digital footsteps of rivals like Rimowa, Burberry and Balenciaga, became the latest megabrand to “drop” on WeChat, unveiling its newest products to Chinese consumers.
On February 17th, a message from Louis Vuitton’s official WeChat account kept fans awake — it stated that the new “LV Trainer” sneaker collection was now available for $1,316 to $1,860 (RMB 8,850 to RMB 12,500) — via the brand’s WeChat pop-up store enabled by the mini-program. The collection, designed by artistic director Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton’s 2019 Spring/Summer Menswear collection, is available in five styles, and blends streetwear DNA with the brand known for its craftsmanship and heritage. The “drop” model on WeChat seems to have helped the brand create a sense of hunger and eagerness among its biggest followers.
The mini-program included all relevant product information, as well as design details: flower monogram on the side of each sneaker and why the numbers 54 and 408 are meaningful to the brand. The digital pop-up store also listed a number of other products from hoodies and handbags to accessories to match the sneakers.
Customers can place orders through the mini-program and communicate directly with Louis Vuitton’s WeChat customer service if they have questions. Additionally, the mini-program lists two physical store locations where customers can get their hands on the collection, but only until March 10th.
LVMH-owned luxury luggage brand Rimowa was one of the first brands in China to engage in “drop” sales on WeChat. The German suitcase maker launched various limited editions in collaboration with streetwear brands Off-White and Supreme in mid-2018, which sold out quickly.
British high fashion brand Burberry started to experiment with WeChat pop-up stores for “drops” last September after Riccardo Tisci debuted his first Burberry collection at London Fashion Week. The London-listed company said in its latest earnings conference call that this retail model was effective in boosting sales to Chinese customers. Balenciaga’s mysterious release of a limited-edition handbag in January also sparked a lot of excitement among Chinese fans.
Thus far, the “drop” retail model seems to be working well for luxury brands in their efforts to tease Chinese consumers. Adopting this tactic that is widely used in the youth-centric streetwear industry is a savvy move to attract a younger generation of consumers, who place a much higher value on whether a product showcases their individuality or is cool. However, it remains to be seen if this model will expand in the luxury retail arena and whether it will be appropriate for brands that do not have strong streetwear DNA.