Chen Is Known In China As The “Emperor Of Chinese Drama”
With all of the press about Chinese shoppers indulging in fashion, handbags, jewelry and art, it’s sometimes easy to overlook two simple facts about the Chinese luxury market: one, men still make the vast majority of luxury purchases in China (often giving the items away as gifts), and two, aside from a high-end car or possibly real estate, the first luxury good most men in China tend to opt for is a Swiss watch. While these, too, are often given away to business acquaintances, the luxury watch is a key player in the sometimes complex world of “face” in China as well as Asia in general, and as such luxury watchmakers have pushed hard for market share in both the mainland China and Hong Kong markets.
The seemingly insatiable demand for high-end watches has seen a flood of brands enter the Chinese market, despite relatively low customer brand recognition. As expected, as a result of low customer recognition, Chinese buyers have typically gravitated towards the most expensive watches, with Patek Philippe the most popular brand in China, followed by watchmakers like Vacheron Constantin, Cartier and Rolex.
Recently, in an effort to catch up to its Swiss rivals, TAG Heuer has made a massive push in the China market, building new flagships, unveiling a flashy ad campaign, and appointing a new Brand Ambassador known to virtually all of China’s 1.3+ billion people — the film legend Chen Daoming. In an effort to build brand recognition, TAG Heuer has dramatically increased its investment in the China market, making its spending there second only to the United States.
TAG Heuer has had a foothold in China since the late 1990s, but has significantly increased its brand-building efforts over the last five years, building destination boutiques in some of China’s top retail spots like West Nanjing Road in Shanghai and Shin Kong Place in Beijing. The watchmaker currently operates 120 multi-brand points of sales and 10 stand-alone boutiques in China, with long-term goals of opening 250 points of sales and 40 boutiques. As Jean-Marc Lacave, President of LVMH Watch & Jewellery Asia Pacific, recently said, the China market is a top priority for TAG Heuer, saying, “Of the 120 countries where TAG Heuer operates, China is our sixth biggest market,” adding, “Our goal is to make it number four, on par with Europe and the United States.”
By appointing Chen Daoming as Brand Ambassador, TAG Heuer has made a shrewd move. Chen enjoys a particularly good reputation among Chinese audiences, which will undoubtedly be leveraged in TAG Heuer’s ad campaigns. As Tag Heuer CEO and President Jean-Christophe Babin put it, “We couldn’t have found a better ambassador of TAG Heuer’s values than Mr. Chen. A man of many talents — actor, director producer — he has earned the respect and admiration of generations of Chinese fans, yet remains quietly modest and devoted to his craft.”
Babin added, “We have big plans in China, and having Mr. Chen on our side will be a huge asset.”