Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Down Time is Face Time

And next year, shall we do that bespoke South Pole thing?

This Jing Daily article attempts to summarize how luxury brand providers should try to cater to the high end Chinese tourist. Given that (a) there could be 1.7 million Chinese tourist arrivals in the US this year, and (b) up to 30% of Hermes’ global sales are to rich Chinese, bringing smiles to their faces is a serious business matter. The article suggests four key strategies:
  • Provide unique experiences. Don’t just go to a French chateaux, meet and chat up the owner. In Milan, avoid the shops and make a beeline for the fall fashion show.
  • Provide special treatment. Get a private tour of the luxury leather factories (provided this doesn’t involve a trip back to some place in China, e.g. Shenzhen). Have tea at the Prada family villa. Sing karaoke with Tory Burch.
  • Explore new destinations. Bored of Milan, New York and London? Exciting alternative possibilities include the South Pole or the US National Parks. Presumably, the tour leaders’ megaphones should be left on the bus. And the bears should be allowed to keep their pelts, paws and pancreases.
  • Ensure Trusted Information Sources. Forget those glossy mass mailing brochures. Have your local LV outlet provide you with a bespoke list of restaurants or hotspots.
If this seems suspiciously similar to the kind of treatment that any (not just Chinese) wealthy tourist might want, there’s probably a good reason for that. It is. So nothing too new here, folks. However, what is somewhat different for the Chinese is why they might demand such pampering. Face. It’s that uniquely Asian form of essential one-upsmanship vis-à-vis one’s peers. And for the ultra-competitive elite class, nothing is more soothing and reinvigorating than knowing that you have been treated better than your rivals. No “I love NY” T-shirt can speak louder than that.

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