From London to New York, department stores across the world have been creating innovative campaigns to cater to Chinese tourists during this week’s Chinese New Year travel season. One location that’s really going all out for the holiday is Spanish department store El Corte Inglés, which has come up with the unique idea to create a Don Quixote-themed celebration of the year of the horse. Complete with a presentation by Chinese designers, special VIP ceremony on January 25, giveaways, and limited-edition products, the Chinese festivities with Spanish flavor are aimed to attract many of the growing number of Chinese tourists visiting Spain, whose numbers increased by 33 percent in the first 10 months of 2013.
In order to learn more about the campaign, we talked to Lisa Dinh, the store’s head of business development for international tourism and marketing for China, Southeast Asia, Japan, Korea, India, and Africa.
What are the main highlights of your Chinese New Year marketing campaign?
As the largest department store group in Europe, with its flagship location in Madrid, El Corte Inglés, is commemorating the year of the horse by celebrating Chinese cultural heritage and traditions and sharing Spanish cultural heritage and traditions at its Madrid Castellana flagship store.
El Corte Inglés will be honoring select Chinese fashion designers during Chinese New Year 2014 with a Chinese Fashion Design exhibit in our flagship store and a ceremony honoring the field of fashion design in China and the Chinese designers on display in El Corte Inglés.
El Corte Inglés will share the Chinese tradition of giving red envelopes to its customers during the Chinese New Year holiday. The red envelopes will be filled with prizes such as wine and tapas experiences in El Corte Inglés’ Gourmet Experience, Dim Sum in El Corte Inglés’ Chinese restaurant, the DimSum Club, and gift cards in the domination of 8, 88, 888 and 8,888 euros for lucky winners. El Corte Inglés will also be partnering with top global luxury brands such as Bulgari and Lancôme to offer unique gifts with purchase, limited edition products and other promotions throughout the Chinese New Year holiday.
To commemorate the year of the horse, El Corte Inglés is celebrating one of Spain’s most famous literary figures, Don Quixote. The central character of the book Don Quixote is known around the world as the infamous horse rider on a quest to revive chivalry. Customers at El Corte Ingles’ Madrid Castellana store can pose for pictures with Don Quixote and peruse the dedicated gifting area of Don Quixote-inspired gifts to celebrate Spain’s most famous horse-rider in the year of the horse.
Which Chinese designers will be featured in your display? How did you choose them?
The designers featured are: Shangguan Zhe, Xander Zhou, Wang Peiyi, Jamy Wee and Hiuman Chau. We wanted to show the breadth and depth of Chinese fashion design to Spain and Europe. We chose a mix of men’s and women’s fashion designers who have been recognized for their design excellence both in China and on the world fashion stage. We wanted to provide a platform for both more established designers and up-and-coming designers to show a range of design aesthetics and support up-and-coming Chinese fashion designers.
We hope that this exhibit furthers recognition of the field of Chinese fashion design in Europe and continues to build bridges between Spanish and Chinese culture and fashion design.
Which Chinese celebrities and dignitaries attended the January 25 ceremony for the opening exhibit?
The launch event was on January 25th. From China, Shangguan Zhe, Hiuman Chau and Harper’s Bazaar attended the event. From Spain, the Spanish well-known fashion designer Juanjo Oliva attended the event, as well as Spanish socialites and local Spanish and Chinese press, such as Select Class. Spanish National TV also covered the exhibit, and in the days following the launch of the event, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue visited the exhibit.
Is this the first year El Corte Inglés has done something like this for Chinese New Year? Why is now an important time to celebrate the holiday?
El Corte Inglés celebrated Chinese New Year in 2013 as well with many in-store decorations and promotions. El Corte Inglés is commemorating the year of the horse by celebrating Chinese cultural heritage and traditions and sharing Spanish cultural heritage. We believe that by sharing our important cultural traditions and heritages, we are not only recognizing this important Chinese holiday, but also bringing Chinese and Spanish culture and heritage closer together. We sincerely hope that both our Spanish and Chinese customers will enjoy this festive holiday and celebrate the year of the horse with El Corte Inglés.
How large of a customer base do Chinese visitors comprise for El Corte Inglés? Do you expect this number to grow in the future?
Chinese customers are an important customer group for El Corte Inglés, and represent one of the largest international customer [groups] at our flagship store, Castellana in Madrid. Spain’s high VAT-tax refund, low prices for luxury goods, and attractive travel amenities make Spain an ideal place for international visitor to shop. We certainly expect the number of Chinese customers to continue to grow as more and more Chinese tourists visit Spain and learn about our attractive offering for Chinese customers.
In addition to the holiday celebrations, your store also has many amenities that are useful to Chinese travelers, such as Mandarin-speaking staff, acceptance of UnionPay, a VAT tax refund area, and more. How important is it to have these special services?
We believe that it is critical to offer these value add services for Chinese customers in order to enhance their experience at the store and provide maximum convenience while they are at El Corte Inglés. In addition to housing a specific service center for Chinese customers, El Corte Inglés has long prided itself on providing top-notch service, unparalleled product and brand selection, and competitive pricing. We warmly welcome visitors from around the world to join us for our authentic Spanish hospitality and a truly unique shopping experience offering the world’s top luxury brands and products in the best cities for shopping in Europe.