Our 10 Favorite Brand Localization Posts Of The Year
Nike Goes Local With China-Only Zoom Kobe VI (January 13)
Just in time for Chinese New Year, Nike is set to release a limited-edition, China-only version of its Zoom Kobe VI basketball shoe. Inspired by traditional Chinese pottery and artistic motifs, the China version of the Zoom Kobe VI features a grey-and-purple color scheme, distinct from the black-and-yellow and black-and-green schemes of its American counterparts. Otherwise, the shoe’s Chinese touches include a special lace buckle featuring Kobe Bryant’s team number, 24, and a stylized Reishi mushroom (灵芝, a traditional symbol of good luck and happiness) that morphs into the heads of two black mamba snakes.
Priced at 1299 yuan (US$197), the Nike Zoom Kobe VI China edition will go on sale throughout China on February 2. A commemorative t-shirt, priced at 249 yuan (US$38) will hit stores the same day.
With a decidedly more sinister look than last year’s ferocious M3 Tiger, BMW’s newest limited edition M3 Coupe is set to arrive in China just in time for spring. Sporting a unique matte paint job, only 40 “Frosted Edition” M3s will be available in China, 20 in black and 20 in gray. Bolstered by the success of the China-only M3 Tiger, all 30 of which sold out instantly last September, as well as the popularity of the “M Legend Experience Day” event held in four cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu) last December, it was likely an easy choice for BMW to introduce its “Frosted Edition” M3 to one of the company’s most important markets.
Despite their hefty price tag of 1.2 million yuan (US$187,000), expect these all-black (or all-gray) cars to be snapped up almost as quickly as they arrive in the country.
For Airbus in particular, China is rapidly becoming a key market despite the legal limbo in which most private jets currently operate, with the company selling 20 aircraft in China since 2005, accounting for about 25 per cent of its total business jet sales.
This week, Airbus announced its newest “five year plan” for China, during which it hopes to sell five jets annually and customize jets with what it refers to as “designs in line with traditional Chinese culture.” This makes Airbus the newest company to jump on the “China-only” bandwagon. Recently, Airbus announced that its new “Phoenix” business jet cabin, which is outfitted to the specifications of the Asia market, will offer a special “red wine-colored” interior exclusively for the China market.
It’s not surprising that Porsche is releasing this special edition for the China market — it’s been incredibly lucrative for the German automaker. In the last 10 years, mainland China has quickly become Porsche’s second-largest global market, with chief executive Helmut Broeker recently saying he expects China to become the company’s largest single market “within a few years.”
This isn’t a blindly optimistic view, as Porsche’s growth in China continues to boom. Having sold only 27 vehicles in China in 2002, Porsche saw that figure rise to nearly 14,000 last year, with China becoming the automaker’s #1 market for its Cayenne SUV. As Porsche’s dealership network spreads further through second- and third-tier Chinese cities, we can expect that figure to grow even further over the remainder of the year.
With brands like Louis Vuitton and BMW celebrating milestone anniversaries in China this year, the Japanese cosmetics maker Shiseido, which is commemorating its 30th year in the Chinese mainland, has joined the club with its recently launched Future Beauty Project. Running now through June 30, Shiseido is billing the Future Beauty Project as an initiative to support the aspirations of those who hope to become “future top models” or “future top hair and makeup artists.” For the project, Shiseido created an exclusive website where interested parties can download and send in an application.
Models and hair and makeup artists chosen as finalists to take part in the project will be announced at an event in Shanghai on September 14, with select models to be featured in Shiseido advertisements in the China market. Select artists will be chosen to receive training at the Shiseido Academy of Beauty and Fashion (SABFA) in Japan.
This week, one of the more “only in China” stories we’ve noticed is a run on the August issue of Vogue China, owing not to the popularity of its cover model Ming Xi or its actual content, but because of the free Gucci-branded paper folder packaged along with the magazine. While it’s not unusual for magazines to include branded inserts in China, Gucci is the most visible–and unattainable–for the average reader of Vogue China. This has led to a run on the issue, with some enterprising young people buying every issue they can find and putting them up for sale on the Chinese e-commerce site Taobao.
Already, the issue is selling for around four times its original price of 20 yuan (US$3) on Taobao, and newsstands around the country have been wiped clean. While this is great news for Vogue China, the frenzy for this cheap paper folder has provoked some of China’s most high-profile commentators to weigh in on the issue.
This week, the Swiss watchmakers Hublot officially launched their “Hublot & Han Han — Fulfilling the Dream of Charity” Sina Weibo page at an event attended by China’s most popular blogger, Han Han, and Hublot CEO Jean-Claude Biver. Originally created in March to promote a charity event at which a Hublot F1 watch customized by Han Han was put up for auction, eventually raising US$160,000 yuan (US$25,000) for the Jet Li One Foundation, the newly updated microblog (http://weibo.com/hublothanhan) is designed to promote not only Hublot, but also its association with motorsport racing and Han Han’s philanthropic work.
An occasional F1 racer as well as a prolific blogger, Han Han first met up with Hublot a year ago, forming a partnership to promote the development of auto racing in China and becoming an official brand ambassador earlier this year. As Hublot brand ambassador, Han Han is taking part in charity events and activities aimed at providing support and creating opportunities for young aspiring F1 drivers.
With 2012, the Year of the Dragon, approaching, we’re already seeing some luxury brands preparing special limited-edition models and collections with the China market (and Chinese wallets) in mind. Piaget was perhaps the first major brand to move in that direction, recently unveiling its upcoming “Phoenix and Dragon” Altiplano Double Jeu collection, of which the watchmaker will sell eight, priced at 2.4 million yuan (US$376,000), and this week Rolls-Royce announced its own Year of the Dragon Collection. Designed at the Home of Rolls-Royce by the automaker’s bespoke team, the collection has, in the words of the company itself, “been created to celebrate the ultimate symbol of power, prosperity and good fortune.”
Considering the over-the-top, somewhat clumsy nature of most China-only collections created by major international luxury brands, Rolls-Royce’s Year of the Dragon collection is surprisingly understated, if anything.
China-Only Kobe Bryant Smart Car Hits The Market (September 23)
Following his star turn in the Mercedes-owned ultra-compact automaker Smart’s “Big, in China” ad campaign last fall, NBA star (and Smart brand ambassador) Kobe Bryant met with company execs this past July to work on a new “Black Mamba” edition Fortwo. Having made its debut at the recent Chengdu Motor Show, the China-only Kobe Bryant Black Mamba Fortwo has now hit the market. Limited to only 500 units, the Kobe edition Fortwo is priced at 124,000 yuan (US$19,412).
Like other recent China-only auto editions like the “Year of the Dragon” Rolls-Royce, customization on the “Black Mamba” Smart is minimal — and possibly disappointing for some NBA fans. The car features a fully blacked out exterior and interior and dynamic BRABUS wheels, but is otherwise similar to the usual Fortwo, with the exception of Bryant’s signature and “Kobe Edition” written on the hood.
Jing Daily “Year Of The Dragon” Gift Guide: From Blowout To Budget
With the new year approaching, over the past few months we’ve seen companies previewing their limited-edition collections celebrating the Year of the Dragon on the Chinese calendar.
From ostentatious to understated, blowout to budget, here’s Jing Daily’s guide for anyone looking for that perfect dragon-themed gift.