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A most important first step for any brand seeking success in a particular market is to know that market. Between a US-China trade war and anti-government protests in Hong Kong to increase tensions between Beijing and the city – companies that seek to attract customers in the mainland's thriving luxury goods market need to be especially vigilant. Now is an exceptionally bad time to rise.
However, luxury brands in recent months have the dominant design landscape for decades has fallen at the first obstacle when it comes to China, floated diplomatic feathers in Beijing and upset wild customers. & nbsp;
Such was & nbsp; the faux pas & nbsp; of the Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana in November, which turned into a public relations crisis after the & nbsp; "tribute to China" & nbsp; social media marketing campaign (seen at the top) featured fashion llen Zuo Ye who struggles to eat pizza, spaghetti and cannoli using chopsticks. The concept was short on research and cultural sensitivity, and it & nbsp; triggered a boycott & nbsp; from Chinese consumers who saw Alibaba and JD.com pull the brand from their websites and stores in China, got rid of D & amp; ; G stock. Fiasco & nbsp; almost ruined Yes career . & Nbsp;
Not to mention that Stefano Gabbana threw the brand deeper into controversy by looking to carry out a racist race on Instagram, which the company said was the result of his account being & nbsp; hacked . The brand then canceled the much-awaited show in Shanghai. Nine months on and off & nbsp; an apology Dolce & amp; Gabbana is still struggling to shake off the reputational damage . It wasn't the first brand kicked by Chinese social media – Balenciaga felt the trunk & nbsp; after the shooting of a security guard in a quarrel with a Chinese shopper in Paris in April last year went viral.
What is a mark you can make when trying to correct the error? "Getting out of these episodes is very difficult. It's true that things are coming and going very fast on social media and the internet, that what's news today is an old story tomorrow. Sorry, lie down a little and then slow down come back and try to get consumers back, "says Alessia Grassi, marketing lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, & nbsp; Forbes .
One After the Other
It turns out that D&G was Pied Piper of colossal publicity and leading a fleet of other designers stumbled into a marketing nightmare portal, Burberry followed weeks later with his tone-deaf Lunar New Year campaign, a bleak, family portrait shot as Weibo users enjoyed scenes in a & nbsp; Asian horror movie according to & nbsp; Jing Daily . "This is a group of people planning to kill this ultra-rich grandmother and fight vigorously for her legacy," wrote a user. & Nbsp;
This month, Versace, Coach and Givenchy lined up to apologize to their Chinese customers for selling T-shirts suggesting that Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan were independent of the mainland, in a move that was perceived as a threat to China's sovereignty. The shirts were taken out of sale and in Versace's case destroyed. But the damage was done – high-profile Chinese ambassadors Liu Wen, Yang Mi and Jackson Yee cut ties with the brands and hurt their local reputation. Meanwhile, Swarovski was left red-faced as it hinted that Hong Kong is a & # 39; independent country on its website.
A Market Too Valuable to Lose
D&G was the example no one should have followed. After all, designers have pumped more marketing dollars into the lucrative Chinese market. Young Chinese Consumers & nbsp; happy to use & nbsp; is & nbsp; too valuable to lose while overall Chinese consumers make up & nbsp; one third of the global luxury shopping sector . Although the broad economy slowed for the first time in 27 years this year, mainland China's luxury goods market saw 20% growth for the second year this year, to $ 25 billion ($ 23 billion) in sales, driven by growing demand. The scope of & nbsp; industry is just growing, & nbsp; curbs the trend of slowing global economic growth . & nbsp;
Top luxury brands are increasingly using social media to & nbsp; attracts younger buyers but the relationship goes both ways as sharp buyers can quickly become the arbitrators to follow them. They are no longer just told what to buy; they decide and influence others to do so too. & nbsp;
"Today, with the power of social media and influencers, a small mistake can quickly resonate to have massive implications for companies very quickly," & nbsp; Sarah Willersdorf, head of BCG's luxury, fashion and beauty pursuits at BCG, tells & nbsp; Forbes . & nbsp; "This is especially true in China, where social media and influencers are the main driver of luxury purchases." So why do luxury brands get so wrong in the market they're trying to expand? & Nbsp;
A strong sense of patriotism and national pride make consumers aware of everything that seems to undermine that. Athena Chen, senior editor of trend forecasting company WGSN, tells & nbsp; Forbes : “Chinese consumers, especially the younger generation, are digital knowledgeable and well informed with a strong sense of pride in their country. They do not appreciate the exoticization of Chinese culture, and brands must ensure that they do not appear patronizing to Chinese consumers in their marketing messages. "
" Brands must remember that when they enter the market, they are guests, "says Grassi. "They should behave and respect the country, no matter what their personal beliefs are." & Nbsp;
Understanding the Political Situation
Tensions between Beijing and Hong Kong have been staged as high as anti-government protesters in the city have staged a three-month protest, originally in response to a now suspended extradition bill. Separately, there seems to be no end to a US-China trade battle as talks between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping remain deadly.
"There is a lot of political instability going on and you have to be aware of it and respect it and make sure the words you use are correct and that the way you describe some part of China is not going to insult someone or cause some offense, "says Fflur Roberts, an analyst at Euromonitor market research firm Forbes .
Investing with local experts is invaluable in avoiding gaffer damage. Willersdorf says:" All brands, including fashion and luxury goods must be incredibly cautious when it comes to cultural sensitivity, period. Localized products, marketing certainty and events should all be, to the minimum possible, validated by and ideally partnered with local teams with a deep understanding of cultural norms in those countries. " companies that use an approach of all sizes seem to cut corners. Chen said this is partly "due to global brands that works to maintain consistency across markets, and it can be difficult to get everyone up and down the line aware of what these sensitivities are. ”
Tod's 2018 collaboration with Chinese influencer Tao Liang – better known as Mr Bags – is proof that strategic collaboration can actually secure your bag. The collection generated a staggering RMB 3.24 million ($ 460,000) in & nbsp; 6 minutes – broke the social media star's own record of selling 12 minutes the year before, during his collaboration with Givenchy, according to & nbsp; Business of Fashion .
There is hope where brands seem to learn from their mistakes and provide additional training to employees, Chen says. Following Guccy's & nbsp; "blackface sweater" scandal CEO Marco Bizzarri announced a long-term diversity and inclusion plan, including a $ 5 million "changemaker," scholarship and volunteer program & nbsp; "It will affect youth and the African-American community." The move was in collaboration with fashion designer Dapper Dan. The Kering-owned firm later announced that it had hired US attorney Renee Tirado as its & nbsp; global head of diversity [19459007
"Brands need to be credible. If they want to look after their consumers, they at least need to know their consumers. And think – sometimes it's just a matter of thinking," says Grassi.
"The only real way to & # 39; recover" is to stop making these mistakes. "
Get Forbes & # 39; daily headlines directly to your inbox for news about the world's most important entrepreneurs and superstars, expert advice on careers and success secrets. "
TOP PICTURE CREDIT: LDOPE – YOUTUBE
A most important first step for any brand that seeks success in a particular market is to know that market. Between a US-China trade war and protests against the Hong Kong government increasing tensions between Beijing and the city – companies seeking to attract customers in the mainland's thriving luxury goods market need to be especially vigilant, and now is an unusually bad time to rise.
Still, luxury brands that have dominated The designer landscape for decades fell at the first obstacle when two China came, ruffling diplomatic feathers in Beijing and disturbing wild customers.
Such was the faux pas of the Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana in November, which turned into a PR crisis after the "tribute to China" social media marketing campaign (seen at the top) featured model Zuo Ye struggling to eat pizza, spaghetti and cannoli using chopsticks The concept was low on research and cultural sensitivity, and it sparked a boycott from Chinese consumers who saw Alibaba and JD.com retrieve the brand from their websites and department stores in mainland China getting rid of D&G shares. The failure almost ruined Yes's career.
Not to mention that Stefano Gabbana threw the brand deeper into controversy by looking to execute a racist profit on Instagram, which the company said was the result of his account being hacked. The brand then canceled the much-awaited show in Shanghai. Nine months on, and despite an apology, Dolce & Gabbana still struggles to shake off its reputation damage. It wasn't the first brand to be kicked by Chinese social media – Balenciaga felt the boot after the shooting of a security guard in a quarrel with a Chinese shopper in Paris last April went viral.
What is a mark to do when trying to correct the wrong? "Getting out of these episodes is very difficult. It is true that things are coming and going very fast on social media and the internet, that what is news today is an old story tomorrow. Sorry, leave a little and then slowly come back and try to get consumers back, "says Alessia Grassi, marketing lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, Forbes .