LV Expansion Only Speeding Up In China’s Interior
With the luxury market in cities like Beijing, Shanghai and even Shenyang becoming increasingly crowded, luxury giant Louis Vuitton has spent the last several years in China ramping up its inland expansion and rethinking its strategy in top-tier cities. In the last year alone, LV opened its eighth mainland China flagship at Hangzhou’s MixC mall, followed shortly thereafter by the brand’s ninth flagship store at Chengdu’s Yanlord Square. Then, in April of this year, Louis Vuitton’s Plaza 66 location in Shanghai closed for an ambitious remodeling project, which will, after completion, see the store become China’s first “House of Louis Vuitton” and include art exhibition space and a library. Last month, Louis Vuitton’s “big store strategy” (大店策略) became more apparent than ever, as the luxury giant opened its largest-ever store in China, an 1,800 square meter behemoth at Guangzhou’s Taikoo Hui Mall.
Rounding out a busy summer, Louis Vuitton is set to open its first flagship in Chongqing and its 11th in mainland China next month. As Jing Daily predicted late last year in our “2011 Trend Watch,” Chongqing has become a prime target for major luxury brands intent on inland expansion, and indeed over the past nine months, big names like Gucci, Tod’s and Lamborghini have debuted in the massive municipality. As Shi Ande, president of Louis Vuitton China, said last year at the opening ceremony of the Chengdu flagship, LV’s research teams spent a great deal of time researching the Chongqing luxury market before making their decision, and were holding out for the right time for the brand to make its grand entrance.
In an interview with the Chinese-language magazine “Asian Business Leaders,” Shi said that Louis Vuitton’s strategy in mainland China is to visit a target city and planned location “at least 25 times” at different times of year to get a better sense of the local climate, culture, market, architecture, and transportation infrastructure before deciding to jump in or expand there. Shi added that part of LV’s “big store strategy” hinges on positioning the new flagship at or near city landmarks. This could partly explain why Chongqing’s first Louis Vuitton location is situated on the city’s Jiefang Bei (解放碑) Pedestrian Street, a popular destination for tourists and shoppers. The store, located at Chongqing’s Maison Mode shopping center, is suitably “big,” covering 1,500 square meters.
A new LV store might not seem like big news, considering the brand is expanding perhaps more quickly than any other luxury brand in China, but in second- and third-tier markets, the arrival of Louis Vuitton means they’ve reached a certain level. As we’ve seen over the past few years in cities like Chengdu, and even Wuhan, Dalian and Harbin, we can expect many other brands to enter or expand in Chongqing within the next couple of years.