Jing Daily’s Top Posts for the Week
In case you missed them the first time around, here are some of Jing Daily’s top posts for the week of December 19-23:
This past Friday marked the conclusion of one of the most widely anticipated auction series of the season, “The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor” at Christie’s in New York. Wrapping up with the Fine and Decorative Art & Film Memorabilia sale, which pulled in a total of US$4.41 million and was 100 percent sold, the auction series proved incredibly popular with collectors from around the world, concluding with a grand total of US$156.8 million. While sales of Taylor’s paintings, memorabilia and works of art attracted strong bidding, it was the jewelry auctions on December 13 and 14 that brought in the most jaw-dropping numbers.
In total, that sale of 270 lots made US$137.2 million, setting four world records in the process.
This month the 276-year-old, Swatch Group-owned Swiss watchmaker Blancpain unveiled a special edition “Chinese Dragon” Caruso timepiece for the China market. Originally launched in 2008, the Caruso watch is the only contemporary timepiece on show at China’s Palace Museum, and apparently Blancpain is eager to tap into the cultural side of Chinese watch buyers.
The Blancpain Caruso “Chinese Dragon” Limited Edition stands apart from other dragon-themed timepieces that we’ve seen in recent months, most notably Piaget’s “Dragon and Phoenix” watch. Rather than festooning the watch face with golden dragons, as Piaget and Glashütte Original did with their special edition timepieces, Blancpain instead takes a distinctly more sophisticated route, with the watch featuring an engraved dragon on the 18k rose gold rear case.
The Swiss luxury watchmaker Hublot, which counts actor Jet Li and the popular Chinese blogger Han Han among its brand ambassadors, held one of its largest promotional events of the year this month in the northeast Chinese city of Dalian. Held to launch the new limited edition Jet Li model, the “Art of Fusion” event was marked with a performance by 100 tai chi practitioners, bringing together two of Li’s non-acting-related activities: promoting both Hublot and the art of tai chi. Present at the launch were Li and Hublot execs like managing director, Ricardo Guadalupe.
The limited edition Hublot Jet Li watch, jointly designed by Li and Hublot, is limited to 200 pieces globally, with pricing as yet undetermined.
Although China’s e-commerce market continues to gain strength, with 173 million Chinese currently shopping online and the industry projected to surpass 750 billion yuan (US$118 billion) in gross merchandise value this year, an increasingly crowded playing field and stubbornly low profit margins mean the days of easy money are over. Using the example of Dongfeng Village in Jiangsu province, today Reuters details how the booming e-commerce market in China is becoming a battleground for a myriad of vendors, who find themselves in “race-to-the-bottom” price wars yet still have to provide the perks demanded by Chinese consumers.
While the article focuses on the low-end of the market, looking mostly at individual Taobao sellers rather than major brands, the article provides good background to the current state of the e-commerce market in China.
Earlier this year, Johnnie Walker made its largest-ever overture to the China market with the launch of its Johnnie Walker House at Shanghai’s Sinan Mansions. Set among restored houses near the city’s Xintiandi district, the three-story Johnnie Walker House is designed to be a private refuge of sorts to celebrities, businesspeople, and local trendsetters looking to learn more about whisky appreciation. As Lawrence Law, brand director at Moët Hennessy Diageo, told Jing Daily at the Johnnie Walker House this September, the House is aimed at local drinkers, many of whom have long been accustomed to watering down whisky with sweetened green tea or thinking of cognac as the only premium imported spirit on the market, and takes visitors on a step-by-step tour of the production and enjoyment of whisky.
With whisky growing in popularity among China’s middle- and upper-middle class, major distillers are constantly looking for new ways to cater to shifting consumer tastes while communicating brand heritage and fostering strong brand loyalty in a new market.