Company Launched Chinese E-Commerce Site In December 2012
A little over a year after the Dallas-based luxury retailer Neiman Marcus announced its entrance to the China market via a $28 million investment in Glamour Sales Holdings, and nearly four months after launching its Chinese-language e-commerce site, the company took its online marketing efforts offline this past weekend in Shanghai. Staging its first-ever fashion show in mainland China on the ground floor of Three on the Bund, Neiman Marcus made its biggest and most public gesture to what it hopes will become one of its key e-tail markets in the years ahead, despite tough competition and comparatively low name recognition in the country.
Curated by Ken Downing, senior VP and fashion director at Neiman Marcus, the show included spring collections from fashion heavy-hitters like Reed Krakoff, Brunello Cucinelli, Tory Burch and Donna Karan, which have rapidly caught on among China’s more brand-savvy and discriminating buyer. In addition, as Fashion Trend Digest points out, the show included one Chinese designer who has racked up international accolades: London-based Huishan Zhang. (Previously on Jing Daily)
As WWD wrote of the event — which brought together Neiman’s online and offline prowess:
It was a low-key affair. Only a few hundred casually dressed guests were invited, who organizers said were mostly customers or potential customers, as well as artists, musicians and socialites. Some had won tickets to attend via a giveaway that Neiman Marcus organized online.
Attendees sat around a catwalk that snaked through the former retail space, which was dimly lit and had little decor except for Neiman Marcus logos and flat-screen TVs showing live feeds of the show and other promotional videos. A short cocktail party preceded the runway show.
“I wanted to showcase the breadth of what we have but also wanted to be really trend-relevant,” said Downing, who was visiting China for the first time. He added that he included designers that he knew were popular in the country, as well as some who were less known here.
That morning, Downing met with local artists. Earlier in the week, he met with bloggers and journalists at another promotional event in Beijing that showcased designers and trends for the season. Thursday’s fashion show was covered by local Chinese video portals such as Youku.com and Tudou.com.
As Lindy Rawlinson, vice president and managing director of Neiman’s online operations in China, told WWD, despite obstacles such as lower brand awareness, Neiman Marcus is optimistic about its prospects, particularly as more competitors enter and develop the full-price e-tail market there. According to Rawlinson, average per-customer spend on the Neiman Marcus Chinese site is higher than in America, and interest has been particularly strong among shoppers in second- and third-tier cities. (Considering these consumers are less likely to jet off to Paris or New York for their shopping sprees, and would otherwise be unable to locally find brands like Valentino, Stella McCartney or Jason Wu, this isn’t completely surprising.)
Looking to further build its profile in China, Neiman Marcus is ramping up its efforts on Sina Weibo, and has spent the last year actively courting fashion bloggers and other key opinion leaders (KOLs). Last month, the retailer gave new subscribers to the Neiman Marcus newsletter a chance to win a 5,000 yuan gift certificate. Owing to a systematic glitch that accidentally rewarded a 5,000 yuan credit to every participant during the first week of the promotion, the company had to post a letter of apology and invalidate all credits. To avoid fostering further ill will, Neiman Marcus moved quickly and proactively, providing every participant with a 500 yuan shopping credit.
It may be new to the market, but between its lightning-fast response to what could have become a PR crisis, successful outreach to fashion KOLs, and on-trend exclusive events, Neiman Marcus is clearly off to a strong start in China.