Summer in China is hotter than usual this year, but the weather isn’t stopping swanky Italian luxury brand Moncler from selling their pricey puffer jackets at a brisk rate.
Moncler’s CEO Remo Ruffini credits the company’s new “Genius” strategy: a global campaign announced in February that speeds up production by dropping new collections every month instead of only twice a year. For the Genius Collections, eight superstar creatives signed on to work with Moncler, the first of which is Japanese streetwear king Hiroshi Fujiwara.
Most fashion brands don’t release their winter collections until August, but Moncler bucked that trend by beginning to unveil their Genius series’ in June and will continue through December, giving the brand year-round visibility to their fans. But the Genius Collections are more than just a ploy to try to shake up the winter wear company’s predictable seasonal sales pattern. Moncler is also using exclusive designs and limited-time sales to help goad consumers into buying winter jackets out of season.
And this ‘fast fashion’ strategy appears to be paying off. In fact, Moncler has seen a double-digit sales bump in China alone, according to the 2018 first half-year report. The brand says the Asia-Pacific region has driven new growth and is the best-selling market for Fujiwara’s Fragment collection so far. Numbers also indicate that the collection has attracted more foot traffic to stores, a more diversified crowd, and more consumers who are new to Moncler.
“These collaborations give consumers a way to buy something unique that their luxury brand buying friends and family won’t have and gives Moncler a way to interact more with consumers over the course of a year, ” said Benjamin Cavender, the Principal of China Market Research Group regarding Moncler’s positive momentum thus far.
In an effort to make their fashions more relevant, Moncler is featuring 19 celebrity talents across the globe as a way to highlight the diversity of Moncler customers. Dubbed ‘Moncler Beyond’, the campaign’s goal is purportedly to move “beyond fashion, straight into life.”
In China, the brand chose a somewhat lesser-known representative, the actress Crystal Zhang, who rose to fame starring in the popular 2015 web series Go Princess Go. The campaign got great exposure on social media and it pushed Moncler’s official WeChat to over 110K pageviews organically. WeChat is the core social media strategy in China, and when we last spoke to Ruffini, he said the brand is set to launch another ‘temporary store’ within WeChat in the near future with new dedicated collections. The brand will also continue to roll out physical pop-up stores in major cities beginning in October.
But will Moncler’s fast-fashion initiative continue to thrive in China at luxury prices? Luckily, the Chinese government recently decided to reduce import taxes, and the brand has already lowered their prices in China as a result—by an average of 3.5%. This change is likely to further boost demand in the country.
Some industry insiders wonder whether luxury fashion houses hoping to keep up with lower-priced brands like Zara and H&M with monthly product drops can make a long-term impact or if they’re just diluting their brand value.
“Luxury brands adapting to the speed of fast-fashion retailers is a global trend,” said Louis Houdart, Founder of Creative Capital, “Today, when it comes to luxury and high fashion, consumers, and especially millennials, are living a life of ‘I want this now, I want the latest trend faster.’ This [fast-fashion] trend has been growing, but could, of course, be a long-term threat to luxury consumers suddenly getting bored with ‘fashion marketing’. However, I don’t see this coming anytime soon.”
“I think the Moncler Genius project is a very clever way for Moncler to maintain consumer engagement, generate media buzz, and drive traffic to stores,” said Luca Solca, sector head of luxury goods from the French investment bank Exane BNP Paribas. “I see the focus in soft luxury on ‘newness’ and ‘relevance’ as effective, and product innovation is a vital ingredient, but this needs to compound with effective media and in-store communication. Moncler ticks both those boxes.”
Adds Solca: “I don’t see any risk of brand dilution from this initiative, on the contrary.”