Longchamp is cashing in on China's demand for affordable luxury. (Sina Weibo/Longchamp)
With a logo featuring a jockey on a horse, classic French handbag maker Longchamp sees the year of the horse as its time to shine in China as it sees massive opportunity in the middle class.
According to a recent Reuters story, Jean Cassegrain, the CEO of the company known for its ubiquitous canvas and leather totes, said that the brand is “far from having fully tapped China.” According to him, "The brand is starting to be increasingly appreciated by the Chinese, both at home and abroad."
Gao Yuanyuan, Longchamp's first ever Chinese celebrity brand ambassador, is pictured in a marketing campaign featured on the brand's Weibo and WeChat pages. (Sina Weibo/Longchamp)
While high-end luxury labels such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci struggled in 2013 thanks to China’s anti-corruption crackdown, Longchamp posted 26 percent sales growth for mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The company made its foray into China in 2006, and has about 20 stores there now. Last year, it opened six stores and closed two, with plans to open more in the years to come. Chinese buyers are now the brand’s second most important customers behind the French, according to the company’s CEO.
With the brand’s famous canvas Pliage bag selling for around 100 euros, the company is cashing in on Chinese demand for accessible luxury. Commonly associated with American brands such as Coach and Michael Kors—which have also seen strong growth in China—affordable luxury has been able to fare much better against China’s luxury slowdown. There are several reasons for this, including the rapid growth of incomes for China’s middle class, as well as the fact that mid-range goods were not used for the high-end official “gifting” purposes that are now the focus of the Chinese government’s scrutiny.
Longchamp has been highly active in marketing campaigns directed at Chinese consumers, both online and off. The brand created a special-edition year of the horse tote for Chinese New Year earlier this year, using an auspicious gold version of its logo emblazoned across a bright red bag. Bloomingdale’s marketed the piece heavily as part of its Chinese New Year campaign to attract Chinese tourists. In addition, Longchamp is active on both Sina Weibo and WeChat with campaigns featuring the company's first ever Chinese celebrity ambassador, Gao Yuanyuan (高圆圆).