Ralph Lauren Gives Shanghai Clients VIP Treatment

Cocktail Party Example Of “Unique Experience” Brand Strategy

Chinese clients are treated to a private fashion show at Ralph Lauren Shanghai. (Affinity China)

Chinese clients are treated to a private fashion show at Ralph Lauren’s Shanghai flagship store. (Affinity China)

In an April promotional event at Ralph Lauren’s Shanghai flagship store, Chinese guests were treated to wine, hors d’oeuvres, and an up-close fashion show as part of an increasingly common strategy among luxury brands to provide VIP experiences for their China clients.

According to the website of luxury experience company Affinity China, which planned the event, the store closed up shop in order to host 30 guests who were given a look at 13 new designs shown off by models, and the party concluded with a Ralph Lauren gift bag for each guest.

Special events like this are becoming more common as luxury companies strategize ways to shine above their peers in a crowded Chinese luxury marketplace. These overtures to Chinese clients occur both inside and outside of China, and some include airfare-funded trips to make purchases abroad.

A recent Reuters article pointed out that companies sponsor trips abroad for Chinese big spenders in order to help them take advantage of the cheaper luxury prices outside the mainland, but equally important to the decision to host paid excursions is the fact that they also serve as a branding experience, providing perks such as fashion shows, artisan demonstrations, and even golf outings. In a recent interview, Jing Daily columnist and co-founder of China luxury consultancy China Luxury Advisors Sage Brennan stated, “Brands that do this best will find creative ways to demonstrate their heritage and depth of expertise and quality, while providing memorable experiences for customers.”

Brennan argued in a recent article that affluent shoppers from China enjoy these experiences because they “derive personal pleasure and ‘face’ within their cohort when they are provided a special courtesy that conveys status from a respected brand – the more exclusive, the better.”

This strategy helps Ralph Lauren build up its brand recognition while it pursues expansion efforts in China as part of a repositioning strategy that began in 2010. “We’re on track to open 11 stores this year, plus or minus a few 20 next year,” said Roger Farah, the company’s president, chief operating officer, and director during a call with investors in February. The company is targeting a more mid-range clientele, but clearly recognizes the demand for VIP experiences across all levels of the luxury market.

Several more photos of the event are below. (All photos by Affinity China)

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Fashion, Industry Sectors, Marketing & Branding