Louis Vuitton Zhengzhou (Image: LVMH)
Louis Vuitton's massive expansion in China continues unabated in 2011, as the French luxury powerhouse moves further beyond saturated markets like Beijing and into even more second- and third-tier cities. Now operating locations in 29 cities, from Shanghai to Shenyang, Hangzhou to Harbin, Louis Vuitton, like rapidly expanding competitors Gucci and Prada, has turned its focus to the lucrative inland market in recent years.
Recently, following the lead of Gucci, Louis Vuitton made its debut in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province, a city known more for its proximity to the famous Shaolin Temple (少林寺) than high-end shopping. However, at the launch of its Zhengzhou boutique last April, Gucci recorded "easily over" 1 million yuan (US$152,000) worth of sales in the first day alone. It may be a young market, but Zhengzhou has potential.
Located at the city's Yudafufu Mall (裕达福福商场), the opening of Zhengzhou's Louis Vuitton store didn't come cheap. In preparation for the brand's arrival, Yudafufu claims to have spent millions on remodeling, adding a VIP elevator and lounge, a floor-tile mosaic of the Champs-Élysées, and Sino-French design touches throughout the store. According to the store manager, Huang Jianxiong, the new Louis Vuitton boutique is unique not only in its design, but also its focus on service. As Huang told iFeng, "We ask our staff to help customers from the time they enter the store until they leave. If the customer knows exactly what he or she is looking for, we'll help them find it. If not, we'll help the customer find the right item for him or her. We don't just wait behind the counter waiting for customers to ask us for help, but rather we actively take the initiative to understand their needs and give them advice."
While this sounds like pretty standard practice, complaints about poor service at luxury boutiques are common in China, with netizens often recounting tales of brusque service that sent them shopping online or in Hong Kong instead of locally. Now, with major brands pulling out all the stops to convince Chinese consumers to buy closer to home, improving customer service is becoming a key priority.
220 Zhongyuan M. Road, Yudafufu Luxury Emporium, L101
Tel: (86) 400 6588 555