Is Halloween a Missed Opportunity for Luxury Brands in China?

The spirit of Halloween is once again sweeping through the US, but in China, the holiday has been slow to catch on. Because of this, few luxury brands have fully embraced the spooky spirit over there, but some shopping malls in China are preparing unique Halloween events for their experience-seeking consumers.

Photo: SKP Beijing/WeChat

The high-end mall SKP Beijing is putting on a kids Monster Lab from October 15 to 31 that’s meant to mix Halloween fun with science. There are plenty of projects for kids, including a create-your-own electronic light pumpkin, and the mall will turn into a dance party on the night of 31st, where guests can enjoy themed-music and drinks from SKP Rendez-Vous. There’s also a WeChat post that proposes Halloween costume ideas from mall retailers to help drive frightening costume purchases.

Photo: K11 Guangzhou/WeChat

Elsewhere, the museum-retail complex K11 is employing a similar strategy by offering experiences that cater to different age groups at each of their locations. Guangzhou K11 has Kulture academy: an art interactive program where kids can learn about Yayoi Kusama and make Kusama-styled polka dot pumpkins. At Shanghai K11, guests can attend Halloween garage parties in the mall’s sky garden and take in the city lights. While there, party-goers can also enjoy beauty cameras that allow them to “virtually” put on a variety of Halloween looks and pose for social-media worthy pictures.

In Wuhan, the high-end Wuhan International Plaza shopping mall posted a WeChat campaign on eight different ways families can enjoy Halloween, including ideas about how kids can make their own DIY Halloween costumes and different interactive games that are open to the public.

Chinese consumers have always celebrated cultural festivals with meaningful purchases, and Western brands have gained good traction by inserting themselves into traditional festivals like Qixi and the mid-Autumn festival. But with Halloween, these brands must fully narrate the story in a way that local Chinese shoppers will find interesting and meaningful.

It’s not that Western brands haven’t tried. Both Parisian fashion powerhouse Dior and Italian luxury brand Fendi have released global Halloween-related products around the holiday and promoted them in China. Weeks ahead of this year’s Halloween, Dior released a short film featuring supermodel Bella Hadid in three different Dior Makeup looks. Fendi has launched its Monster Eyes Peekaboo Bag yearly since 2014, but the hype has slowly died down over the years, and no new Halloween marketing campaigns have emerged so far in 2018. More importantly, both campaigns are product-focused with little or no China-specific marketing to help increase relevance with the local consumers (another lost opportunity).

“Sometimes, it’s not just a one-way street,” said China Director of the digital agency Fireworks, Chenyin Pan. “Brands need to take the lead to bring the Western influence to the consumers here.” Though it might be challenging for brands, convincing Chinese shoppers to celebrate a Western festival like Halloween with more consumption isn’t impossible, but it’s definitely more of an art than science.

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