Last week, the world’s leading luxury travel retailer DFS Group installed the new T Galleria—a rebranding first unveiled in September at its Waikiki location—to its three downtown stores in Hong Kong. In a celebration taking place in both its founding city and global headquarters, the LVMH-owned retail group hosted a preview day along with a “T in Art” showcase in conjunction with the Hong Kong Tourism Board and celebrity guest Daniel Wu.
With 420 boutiques in 10 countries, DFS is the largest single retailer to Chinese consumers outside China, and of the $102 billion spent by travelers from China on international tourism in 2012, approximately 65 percent was shopping-related. This is no different in Hong Kong, where DFS stores in Tsim Sha Tsui East, Tsim Sha Tsui Canton Road, and Causeway Bay Hysan Place serve as retail havens for more than 18 million visitors a year, a majority of which are mainland Chinese. Together with the 48 retail spaces DFS operates at Hong Kong International Airport, the Group offers a comprehensive selection of categories, including beauty & fragrances, fashion & accessories, watches & jewelry, and wine & spirits.
At the Canton Road location in particular, DFS has recently enhanced its luxury brand selection with new renovations and offerings. In addition to opening several new boutiques, including DFS’ first Tory Burch boutique in Hong Kong, the group has remodeled its beauty floor, adding personalized service options like its signature Beauty Concierge.
Philippe Schaus, CEO of DFS Group, notes that these changes did not come overnight, but have rather been an evolution over time. “The launch of T Galleria follows several years of significant upgrades to our global store network and the introduction of highly personalized services that today have made our Gallerias luxury retail destinations unto themselves.”
DFS’s marketing campaign featured other aspects to draw the attention of mainland Chinese travelers. By partnering with the Hong Kong Tourism Board, which recognizes the importance of attracting Chinese tourists, DFS has unveiled a new art platform for tourism in the city called “T in Art”, which features giant sculptures of “T’s” placed within the popular tourist attraction Avenue of the Stars. Various iconic Hong Kong artists and entrepreneurs were invited to design their own “T”, including film director Patrick Kong, hotelier Yenn Wong, and actor Daniel Wu, who was first to unveil his “T” when he joined DFS on the preview day.
At the press conference on October 28th, Jing Daily talked to Benjamin Vuchot, regional president of Asia North for DFS, to learn more about the company’s strategies to cater to the needs of the affluent Chinese traveler abroad. “In the last 10 years, the sophistication of the Chinese affluent consumer and traveler has really risen substantially. Whereas we previously only had customers from Tier 1 cities like Beijing and Shanghai, now we are seeing newly rich customers from Tier 2, 3, 4, and even 5. As they are in different stages of their experience and education in luxury shopping, we have the unique opportunity to help educate them, some of whom are first-time travelers.”
Mr. Vuchot adds that for the affluent Chinese customer, “exclusivity and first access are important, as is the authenticity of provenance, which DFS is able to guarantee.” Other services include VIP member’s lounges, where guests can relax and enjoy warm egg tarts, find out what’s new, and receive a curated experience from private shoppers. “Customer experience is key for us and we’re in the unique position to offer a consistent high quality of service for our VIP customers abroad, whether it’s in Macau, Hong Kong, Waikiki.”
In Hong Kong, personal shoppers are up to date on events and restaurant openings around town to be able to curate an all-around travel experience for customers, and in LA, a partnership with AEG allows exclusive access to sports and entertainment events for VIP customers. “Our biggest challenge is to always understand who our customer is, and our Chinese customer is constantly evolving and extremely savvy. By being attentive to their needs, we are able to work closely with our brand partners to offer the right mix of products and deliver a superior experience every time.”