“Openness” was the theme at the fifth edition of CIIE, an annual trade fair held in Shanghai from last Saturday through Thursday, Nov. 5 to 10. During a televised opening address on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the importance of keeping the domestic market open, which created a wave of excitement among exhibitors.
“We long for reconnection between China and the rest of the world, and we also need to reconnect with history, reconnect multiculturally, and especially reconnect with new youth,” said Andrew Wu, LVMH group president of Greater China, on the opening day of CIIE.
“This is a very, very difficult year, but not just in China. We are happy to participate in CIIE, which is symbolic of China’s open-door policy. For this year’s CIIE, China’s president spoke of continued Chinese market opening to the rest of the world, which shall continue to benefit all of us,” Wu added.
Participating for the third time at the fair, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chose the theme “Reconnection” and designed a town square-like pavilion that showcased products or technological innovations from 14 of its key brands.
“We noticed that high-quality development was a high priority during the 20th Communist Party Congress report and that high-level opening-up and green consumption are to be reinforced,” said Jinqing Cai, president of Kering Greater China. “This policy support has given the Kering group greater confidence and momentum to plow deeper into the Chinese market.
“The CIIE is the best platform to present to the world what we are doing in the China market,” Cai added. “Kering is honored to showcase our brands’ concepts, new products and designs. This is a chance to foster in-depth communication with our customers and collaborators.”
Kering participated for the fourth consecutive year. The Kering Pavilion, designed by architecture firm Gensler, featured a dome-like structure with blue-sky ceilings, echoing the company’s “Blue Skies Forever” theme. Reflecting Kering’s focus on sustainability, the construction utilized rented modular elements that are designed to be reused. Kering brands, including Saint Laurent, Gucci, Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta, each showcased one key item from their latest collections.
“The Expo has always demonstrated China’s confidence and the possibility of embracing the future, bringing together industry leaders from around the world to build a vision for tomorrow. We are privileged to be part of that vision, to work together for the future,” said Jialin Gu, Richemont Group’s chief executive officer of China.
Showing its commitment to the Chinese market, Sotheby’s returned to CIIE with a booth five times larger than last year. Aside from presenting a wide range of masterpieces from artists such as Mark Rothko, Edvard Munch and Daniel Richter, Sotheby’s also unveiled that its online marketplace, Buy Now, has plans to launch in China next year.
The auction house also presented its first public art piece at CIIE. Visitors are greeted by a larger-than-life sculpture by Kaws called “Share” at one of the entrances of the exhibition hall.
Christie’s also returned to the expo for the second year in a row, bringing artworks by Yayoi Kusama, Marc Chagall and Matthew Wong.
Another highlight in the arts and culture section includes renowned Hong Kong artist and jewelry designer Wallace Chan‘s exhibition “Wallace Chan: Earthly‧Unearthly.” Presenting more than 150 jewelry creations with a total value of nearly 560 million renminbi, or $77.5 million, the exhibition is Chan’s largest solo exhibition in mainland China in recent history.
For apparel and sportswear brands, this year’s message at CIIE was sustainability.
Canada Goose made its CIIE debut under the theme “Live in the Open: Embracing China.” The brand announced its plans to launch a China-specific corporate social responsibility program, the first outside Canada. The program will focus on “exploring a sustainable model reaching human-nature harmony with reputable institutions,” according to the brand.
Uniqlo‘s 100 percent recycled polyester fleece made its debut at the brand’s 1,000-square-meter LifePark pavilion this year. Uniqlo worked with local suppliers, including Cyclone Recycling and Shenghong, to develop a solution that transforms plastic bottles into yarn and garment parts.
“For nearly 30 years, Uniqlo has been growing together with China’s garment industry, working with our production partners to provide high-quality products to customers around the world,” said Jalin Wu, Fast Retailing Group executive officer and Uniqlo Greater China chief marketing officer. “We look forward to connecting with more customers in China and around the world to embark on the journey of new ways of future living.”
Nike‘s 600-square-meter exhibition space showcased new products such as the Nike ISPA Link Axis designed for easy disassembly. The American sportswear giant revealed that the brand’s “Nike Reuse A Shoe” initiative had recycled more than 25,000 pairs of sneakers since its launch in China two months ago.
”This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Nike brand, and this time, we came to the expo with the theme ‘Innovation is Never Done,’ we want to use the spirit of innovation to expand the definition of doing sports and help create a better future for sports,” said Angela Dong, global vice president of Nike and General Manager of Nike Greater China.
Beauty brands focused on showcasing technological innovations and customized product offerings.
L’Oréal highlighted 225 key products and unveiled three new technologies this year. YSL Scent-sation, a multisensor headset that tracks the wearer’s emotional responses to scents, can recommend fragrances based on machine-learning algorithms. The Lancôme Dual-LED Youth Treatment, a beauty device that combines amber and infrared LED lights, can accurately dispense serums when applied. Colorsonic, an at-home hair coloring device, allows users to design a hair color accurately in 20 minutes.
L’Oréal also unveiled that the Skinceuticals Dose, a machine that creates personalized serums, will make its Chinese market debut shortly. The customized service will benefit from the Shanghai Pudong New Area Cosmetics Industry Innovation and Development Regulations, which was finalized in July that green-lights personalized cosmetics products in Shanghai.
“This year is special. It marks a new development journey for China, it’s the fifth anniversary milestone of CIIE, also the 25th anniversary of L’Oréal China,” said Fabrice Megarbane, president of L’Oréal North Asia Zone and CEO of L’Oréal China. “As the rotating chairman of the CIIE Enterprise Alliance and one of the largest exhibitors, we have always recognized CIIE as a new debut platform with a great spill-over effect, as we keep offering diversified products and services to satisfy people’s beauty aspirations in China.”
Another beauty giant, Estée Lauder, built the first carbon-neutral pavilion in the consumer goods exhibition hall, a “wooden palace” made of wood fiber, timber and steel that could be recycled. The company showcased 15 brands and brought back the Vapometer moisture-loss tester and the Moisture Meter SC moisture content tester for its interactive area. Beauty enthusiasts formed long lines outside, hoping to secure a slot to enter the pavilion and receive generous samples from Estée Lauder brands.
Estée Lauder also announced that its global research and development center, located in Shanghai, would officially be put to use this December. The center will develop products better suited for Chinese and Asian skin.
Shiseido introduced a dual pavilion system this year. The Shiso Pavilion showcased Shiseido’s innovations and milestones in China over the past four decades.
The Shisai Pavilion showcased recent breakthroughs in skin research, including the Digital Skin technology for tackling sagging skin issues, the Injectionless HA Skin Booster technology that facilitates optimal hyaluronic acid absorption, and Liquiform, a sustainable packaging solution that combines the bottle shaping and filling stages into one step.
More than 40 new products from 22 Shiseido brands made their debut at the expo, including Sidekick, a skincare brand aimed at young Asian men, and a prototype of the Ipsa Me Ultimate E, a lotion with customized formulas.
“As we move toward our vision of becoming the world’s number-one skin beauty company by 2030, we will not be able to do so without further developing our business in the Chinese market,” said Shiseido global CEO Masahiko Uotani. “This will also allow us to achieve our corporate mission, ‘Beauty innovations for a better world.'”
As Japan’s third largest beauty company, Kosé showcased its star brands, including Sekkisei, Decorté, Infinity, Albion and Jill Stuart, under the theme of “Diverse in Beauty.” Fans of Yuzuru Hanyu, the Japanese figure-skating heartthrob, waited in line for a chance to see a pair of skates signed by the star and leave a voice message for Hanyu at an installation inside the booth.
“Kosé has been cultivating the Chinese market for 34 years since 1988. Last year, we made our debut at the CIIE under the theme ‘Creating Beauty in a Sustainable World.’ This year, we continue under this theme to offer the unique goodness and beauty of Kosé,” said Kosé chairman Yasuhiro Miyata.
Due to stringent COVID-19-related restrictions that required all visitors to be fully vaccinated and show proof of valid 24-hour COVID tests, this year’s fair was less jammed than previous editions.
The CIIE also required all participants to wear N95 masks and barred all participants that have undergone “static management,” or temporary at-home lockdown in designated risk areas, in the past ten days from attending the fair.
The fair attracted more than 2,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries. A total of 284 Fortune Global 500 firms attended this year’s fair, up from last year’s 281.