As Shanghai Locks Down, Netizens Are Equating Vegetables to Luxury

What Happened: Vegetables have been trending online recently as they become a hard luxury in China’s fashion capital. With another pandemic wave taking hold, keeping citizens locked down, green grocery has become increasingly difficult to purchase. In light of this, humorous netizens have been drawing comparisons between them and luxury houses. For example, potatoes and Gucci; cabbage and Chanel, celery and Dior. Images have flooded Xiaohongshu and WeChat Moments showing vegetables packaged in exquisite boxes from Hermès or Prada (the latter held a wet market in the city in 2021).

Shanghai released a two-stage strategy whereby half of the city would be locked down from March 28 for eight days; the other half would be inaccessible from April 1-5. Residents have been undertaking various drastic measures to purchase during this time which is causing food shortages. 

The Jing Take: Under the current lockdown policy, businesses have been experiencing unprecedented pressure with deliveries and store closures. Many have been reaching out to customers directly via WeChat or by posting advertisements. But as Shanghai’s rolling lockdowns intensify, fresh food is obviously now more critical than high ticket items. 

Given this, a host of global players have taken action: Porsche Club, the official club for all Porsche owners, has sent local customers food baskets, which have included fresh apples and celery. Houses like Louis Vuitton and Bulgari have done similarly. Cartier has gifted sets of delicious meals from the high-end restaurant Yongfu in the form of takeaways. In fact, on March 31, the hashtag #ShanghaiLuxuryStoresWereExposedToMaintainingCustomerRelationshipsWithGroceries gained more than 120 million views on Weibo’s Hot Trend List.

Louis Vuitton provided takeout meals to Shanghai customers stuck in lockdown. Photo: Weibo

In times of crisis, it’s always best to pitch in and help where and when possible. For international companies in China, there’s no better way to express this than by giving customers something they need — be it fresh food or something else practical. Catering to a client’s needs has always been an intrical part of the luxury experience. And when times improve, as they will, acts of goodwill are rarely forgotten. Afterall, we’re all in this together.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.