German Label Marc Cain Takes Unique Approach To Entering Mainland Market

Fashion House Enlists Hong Kong Designer William Tang And Actress Kelly Chen To Appeal To Mainland China Consumers

William Tang and Kelly Chen for Marc Cain

William Tang and Kelly Chen for Marc Cain

Though German luxury auto brands like Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW dominate in China, in the fashion market high-end German brands are constantly playing catch-up to their French and Italian counterparts. While Hugo Boss has been somewhat successful in the mainland, recently signing a joint venture agreement with Rainbow that should see around 20 new Chinese locations opening per year, and Escada has locations in more than 20 Chinese cities — even those off the beaten path, like Urumqi and Zhengzhou — success in China for smaller German luxury brands has naturally been more incremental.

Recently, the German fashion house Marc Cain decided to take a somewhat intrepid approach to entering the Chinese market, enlisting the talents of Hong Kong fashion designer William Tang for its 2010 fall/winter collection, and bringing Hong Kong actress Kelly Chen aboard as the “face” of the brand for its official launch. As Xinhua notes, the popularity of Tang and Chen in the Chinese mainland means their endorsement are likely to go further than any advertisement in promoting Marc Cain there.

To the average Chinese fashionista, known designers are mainly Louis Vuitton and Dior from France, Prada and Fendi from Italy, Marc Jacobs from the United States. Few brand names are recognized from Germany, except perhaps Hugo Boss.

“We want to impress upon our customers that German designs are elegant, beautiful, and powerful,” says Norbert Lock, the label’s CEO.

Marc Cain has opted for an unusual entry into the mainland market for its 2010 fall/winter collection.

It does not advertise nor open boutiques in luxury malls. Instead, it has chosen to work with top Hong Kong fashion designer William Tang.

Besides working in fashion, Tang is a marketing planner, a visual artist, a consultant as well as a writer, a DJ, and a VJ – multiple talents which have already earned him numerous faithful fans.

Marc Cain staffers approached him and he agreed to work with the label.

“It is a unique style for women between 30 and 50 years old. Their appreciation of fashion is not aggressive, nor fake, and they know how to express femininity at the proper occasions,” he says after the show.

Marc Cain’s China strategy brings up an interesting question for newer or smaller brands looking to crack the China market — particularly if their target consumers is female and between the ages of 30-50, as is the case with Marc Cain: what’s the most effective marketing tool? Digital outreach, print advertisements, or celebrity endorsements and localized designer collections?

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