SHANGHAI — Around 1,000 guests arrived at the Shipyard Repair Docks to see the women’s spin-off show from Louis Vuitton, while another 158 million and growing online viewers in China gathered to watch with them.
Some were drawn in to see the new 19 vampire-chic looks added to what debuted in Paris on Oct. 5, others by Zhang Ziyi, Carina Lau or to see buzzy fresh faces like Liu Haocun, known as the next “Zhang Yimou girl,” and Zhou Ye sitting in the front row.
According to Vuitton, the last time the house staged a runway show in China, in August 2020, mainland China, Taiwan and South Korea saw their best-ever sales. Customers spend “10 times more” after a spin-off show is staged, Louis Vuitton chairman and chief executive officer Michael Burke recently told WWD.
The marketing blitz from the brand began more than two months earlier on Sept. 10 when Louis Vuitton launched a social campaign #Louis200 in China, to celebrate the house’s bicentennial. Vuitton invited celebrities, influencers, editors, artists and other creatives to film 200 facts about the brand and life of its founder — including spots from brand ambassador Liu Yifei, and starlets Zhou Dongyu and Dilraba Dilmurat saying, “Happy Birthday, Louis!”
In total, the 80-some posts generated 7.5 million in engagement, although the campaign’s most explosive post came from Justin Huang of the boyband Next. His video clip garnered more than one million interactions.
That campaign followed by Wednesday night’s event could help jump-start spending, at a time when — at least on a macro level in China — luxury spending appears to be leveling off. After an initial pent-up demand and repatriation rebound, Chinese consumers’ luxury spending expectations are at similar levels to the first quarter of 2020, a recent study by Agility Research said.
The national picture has been marred by small COVID-19 outbreaks as well as worries about the property sector and bond market. China’s gross domestic product growth slowed significantly in the third quarter to 4.9 percent year-over-year and only 0.2 percent compared with the previous quarter.
However, the research agency pointed out that “there is a strong desire for immersion in luxury brands and to be treated specially, as an honored client.”
“Affluent and high-net-worth consumers rated brand experiences (encompassing online, in-store and brand events) as the top factor influencing luxury purchase decisions, with 89 percent saying it influences them a lot or somewhat.”
Louis Vuitton has also been finding ways to freshen up its retail experiences. While known for its strict direct retail business model, it confirmed this week it was exploring opportunities in Hainan.
While most brands have rushed into the island’s duty-free sector — a market estimated to be worth $47 billion by 2025 — Louis Vuitton and Dior have been the two main holdouts, selling only their beauty and fragrance lines there. Any store by the brand there would not be part of the duty-free zone, it clarified, but the overall environment for Hainan particularly after 2025 is compelling with general retail incentivized with a single-digit tax rate, which makes it nearly on par with duty free.
Earlier this year, too, in April, Louis Vuitton began wading deeper into the e-commerce waters with a new operating model with JD.com. The brand partnered with the platform so that “LV” search results on the JD.com app redirect to Louis Vuitton’s official WeChat mini program, a novel way to provide still what is a brand-controlled environment while boosting its online reach.