In case you missed them the first time around, here are some of Jing Daily’s top posts for the week of July 19-23:
Another week, another high-profile partnership between an established global brand and Chinese contemporary artists — this time the French luxury hotel chain Le Meridien and artists Yan Lei and Chen Wenbo. With the marketplace for international brands in China becoming ever more crowded, and with interest in Chinese art gradually building among the country’s middle- and upper-middle classes, we’re seeing more fashion houses (Ferragamo, Dior, Chanel, Prada), carmakers (Ferrari), and watchmakers (Titoni, Swatch) working with Chinese artists on special edition collaborations.
The newest partnership between Le Meridien and Yan Lei and Chen Wenbo is somewhat different than previous luxury-art partnerships, however, in that it entails the artists not only providing artwork for the hotelier but also joining its exclusive “LM100″ creative community.
Recently, we translated Chinese-language Top Ten lists ranking China’s ten most luxurious cities, ten most luxurious malls, and top online shopping markets. But this week, a new top ten list compiled by Xinhua looks less at wealth and consumption and more at livability, ranking “China’s 10 Happiest Cities.” Translation by Jing Daily team:
1. Hangzhou (Zhejiang Province): Paradise on Earth
“There’s heaven above and Suzhou and Hangzhou below.” Heaven is the word most people use when describing this beautiful city. Hangzhou’s gorgeous landscape is graced by the world-famous West Lake and three-sided Cloud Mountain (云山). As filmmaker Wang Xiaotang once said, “When I take a step into this city, I feel sincerity, kindness and beauty. I see people coming together regardless of age, caring for and helping each other. They love the city down to every tree and every blade of grass, and care more about preserving the city’s environment than their own home.” Since 2004, Hangzhou has been voted China’s happiest city five years running.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) may be somewhat new to China, but in recent years there has been a groundswell in charitable giving not only by major corporations but also by the country’s wealthy elite and middle class, driven by events such as the devastating Wenchuan earthquake in 2008. According to the new China Luxury Forecast 2010 by Albatross Global Solutions and Ruder Finn Asia, CSR isn’t only good PR in China, it’s perhaps the best form of advertising. In a survey of 1,100 luxury consumers in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, CSR was found to be especially important to wealthier, more educated consumers, 2/3 of whom said a given luxury brand’s CSR would make an impact on their choice to purchase its goods.
Ruder Finn found that the aforementioned Wenchuan earthquake marked a real turning point in the history of CSR in China, with companies that were quick to donate immediately after the disaster praised and those that were perceived as “not doing enough” labeled as “iron roosters” (tie gongji) or cheapskates. But in the two years since Wenchuan, consumers in China have begun to look for companies to do more than just donate money.
The blossoming interest in the arts among China’s steadily expanding middle class — and obsession with art collection among the country’s elite — hasn’t gone unnoticed by budding art students or the Chinese government, both of whom hope to benefit from a “culture boom.”
Over the past several years, along with the appearance of Chinese contemporary art on the global stage and the strong emergence of home-grown domestic Chinese auction houses has come a greater interest among students in learning not only painting or photography but also the business of art: mainly arts administration and curatorship. As an interesting counterpart to the Chinese art world’s internationalization, more young students are looking to study traditional arts like calligraphy and Chinese painting (国画).
We often look at luxury brand localization in China, a trend that has become more noticeable as ”post-80s” consumers (those born in the post-economic-reform period of the 1980s and more likely than their parents to spend rather than save) have become a force to be reckoned with. With China projected to have 65 million potential luxury consumers by 2020 and set to become the world’s largest single luxury market by 2015, luxury brands know they can’t afford to ignore the demands of Chinese luxury shoppers, who are younger and less brand-loyal than their counterparts in Japan or developed Western countries.
As a result, some of the more forward-looking international companies are experimenting with materials and designs to give their products a subtle “Chinese soul” while maintaining their innate, foreign luxury status.