With a paralysis of global air travel, the luxury markets of Europe and the U.S. have been brought to a stand-still with record losses at brick & mortar stores in all major destinations. Another essential negative factor is an inhibition in luxury spending given that daily lifestyle is been excessively dominated by uncertainty and constant bombastic negative messages related to the spread of Covid-19.
Events of any type which would command wearing a special attire have been brought to a stand-still and many wealthy continue to work from work. Many sill avoid meetings in person and even private events have been minimised. Sadly, local wealthy may take short walks on Bond Street, Avenue Montaigne, Via Montenapoleone, Via Condotti or Maximilianstrasse but would avoid entering stores, avoiding the hassles of Covid-19 safety measures.
Luxury consumption has always been driven by joy, fun, personal pampering and fulfilment. Luxury has always been motivated by the arts, especially when it comes to acquiring products that required exceptional craftsmanship and the most rare materials. Luxury has always been driven by passionate connoisseur collecting consumers and those who are primarily driven by the investment motivating factor.
For all the right business and financial reasons, major international luxury brands have been once again flocking to China, which has apparently succeeded in eliminating the Covid-19 virus. This time it is not only about concentrating on aggressively expanding retail showcasing the ‘latest’ and ‘newest’ retail design concepts but also ramping up online presence as well as hosting pop-ups and art installations. It is almost like a ‘reward’ that China deserves for ‘beating’ Covid-19
World premiers such as first ever virtual stores are also taking place in China, led by brands such as Piaget. Brands are increasingly spending more on social media, beyond the ‘must-have’ brand ambassadors. China’s Valentine’s day Qixi ‘benefited’ from the full attention of international luxury brands, almost with no exception brands launching dedicated full scale collections – not just capsule collections or a few items / pieces.
Louis Vuitton hosted last month the live show of is Spring Summer 2021 catwalk show in Shanghai, but not as a ‘repeat’ which used to be the case in the past, i.e. brands hosting their catwalk shows in their home countries in the metropolis of London, Milan, Paris or New York. Bvlgari is hosting today in Shanghai the main event of its global launch of the collaboration with Ambush. World’s largest luxury watches exhibition Watches & Wonders, dedicated to both trade and the consumers takes place this September in Shanghai.
Luxury’s DNA which relies primarily on desirability and the WOW factor has always been a very complex mix between novelty, innovation on one side, and craftsmanship, heritage on the other side. Obviously, design and aesthetics as well as communications and merchandising are no longer just ‘adapted’ to China but driven by China.
Shifting attention almost entirely onto China and indirectly ignoring key markets such as Europe will have severe negative consequences in the mid to long terms, especially taking into account that a vaccine is still a year away. There must be a balance in conveying any messages.
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