Jing Daily Hosts: Why Now is the Perfect Time for New Brands To Invest in China
Interview by Jing Daily’s Ruonan Zhang
Speaking to an exclusive, invite-only group of industry players in New York was guest of honor Daniel Langer, CEO of the Phoenix-based luxury, lifestyle and consumer brand strategy firm Équité.
How can luxury brands build strategies to be more resilient to macro trends such as the China-U.S. trade war and the slowdown of the Chinese economy that is taking place now?
Langer: Well, luxury overall is more recession-prove, but while the top consumers will continue to buy, those who are affected by the economic downturn are occasionally luxury buyers. With that being said, brands with a super-sharp profile (meaning they have defined objectives like “what do you sell, what do you inspire?” very clear) will be more likely to succeed, even in a tough situation.
So for brands who haven’t established a “sharp” profile in China, is now a bad time to invest in this market?
Langer: China is a perfect ground for new brands…it’s New York on steroids. The consumers are younger, millennials and Gen-Z are buying, it’s much more digital and much more trendy. This means the acceleration of their behavior is stronger there than it’s here (New York).
A lot of brands that I observed in New York didn’t exist 5 years ago, they are able to capture what people are thinking nowadays, they can create relevancy other brands don’t have. However, a brand has to be extremely edgy, if a brand is mainstream, doesn’t have a sharp profile, then the brand will go nowhere…. It’s the perfect time for brands to come in because existing brands will be distracted.
Are you worried that brands can be too in-tune with what their consumers have to say that they’ll lose their DNA?
Langer: A brand should always have its DNA, if a brand is just pleasing consumers, it will not work. If Rolex becomes completely funky and is changing their brand dramatically, doing a radical shift without redefining their DNA, it will lose. Rolex is not Apple (Watch), every brand is compelled to fight to build its own DNA.
What’s different about China? How should brands be particularly sensitive there?
Langer: China is one of the youngest luxury markets in the world, the youngest consumers are the most demanding. Brands can’t do things in the old way in China, the consumers will immediately sense something is wrong — and not authentic.