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Luxury in the digital age: the challenge of balancing “slow time” and “fast time”

At Luxe Pack Shanghai 2017 held in April, Ifop CEO Stephane Truchi and Luxurynsight CEO Jonathan Siboni shared their views on how luxury brands should adapt to the digital era in a conference entitled “The Digital Transformation of Luxury”.  

While 50% of Chinese domestic luxury consumption will be generated online by 2020, it is of the utmost importance that luxury brands remain abreast of digital innovations and place them at the very heart of their development strategies.

Although luxury brands are forever more accessible and time has speeded up subsequently to the development of digital technologies, Stephane Truchi places emphasis on how important it is for luxury brands to maintain their focus on the traditional values of luxury which include one to one relationships with clients, a physical point of sale, sensoriality and paying close attention to clients’ needs in particular through advice and direct contact.

In this way, the challenge facing brands today is to bring these two worlds together and create a balance between “slow time” and “fast time”, while preserving the essential dimensions of luxury such as mystery, rarity, excellence, expertise and occasionally keeping a distance from the digital universe by focusing on interaction, dialogue and ephemeral actions.

Finally, Stephane Truchi closed the conference by outlining three key strategies to ensure that luxury brands maintain their exclusivity in a digital world accessible to everyone:

  • Create an irresistible desire – brands need to expand their range of visual, written and video materials with remarkable content, thereby revealing unknown facets to clients, fostering intimacy with new generations (millennials), and opening new channels via influencers.
  • Deliver a unique experience via new technologies and initiatives to ascertain a seamless service, while creating an opportunity for interaction between the digital and the physical worlds and tapping into social interaction.
  • Foster a close relationship with clients based on the latest advances in technology such as chatbots, thus encouraging automatic interaction between clients and the brand, ensuring personalisation of support services and providing the opportunity for real-time interaction with a community.

China’s outbound tourism is growing despite the economic turmoil

More than 109 million Chinese travelled abroad for leisure last year and currently 1 in 10 international outbound travelers is Chinese. This number is only expected to rise.

An Ifop report shows that 30% of the Chinese are planning to travel abroad over the next 5 years and saving for traveling is the 3rd saving concern after saving for a rainy day and kids’ education. The National Population and Family Planning Commission has recently released projections, estimating the population of China to peak at 1.39 billion by the end of 2015 and remain constant over the next 5 years. Needless to say that the potential is huge for the tourism industry to meet the needs of these 400 million Chinese travelers!

1st tier cities are the engines of this growth while 2nd and 3rd tiers are catching up.

This is a challenge for the tourism industry. Middle-class travelers are still seeking for shopping in hotspots but the affluent ones are shifting towards experiential travels, increasingly looking to venture off the beaten path and to share their moments on social media such as WeChat.

Resorts, Spas, restaurants and cruise providers would be the first ones to benefit from the change but retailers are not outdone. Shopping for fashion will always remain a must yet purchases of souvenirs and local specialties will increase as a way to extend the dream.


Article written by Thi My Nguyen, Project Manager Ifop Asia



How “Made in…” impacts the attractiveness of products amongst Chinese consumers?

Ifop recently conducted a survey among the Chinese middle-class* in five main cities (Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Shenyang) to understand perceptions towards products made in different countries around the world. This study reveals the strengths and weaknesses associated to “Made in…” China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, UK and USA.


“Made in”: a key purchase driver

The country of origin is an essential information to Chinese consumers: 44% claim to “Always or most of the time” pay attention to it when making a purchase, 30% “Sometimes”. Also 70% consider it as “Very or somewhat” important when it comes to choosing a product or a service.


France is strongly associated with Luxury and the values attached to this sector

From the eight countries evaluated, France is the most associated with one particular field: Luxury. This strength in the field of luxury contributes to associating France to dimensions of know-how, creativity and ability to make one dream which are of high value. However, the association with this sector conceals other good things France has to offer to Chinese consumers and paradoxically this country is not much associated to automotive, energy or aeronautic sectors despite major assets in these fields.

French companies and brands obviously lack visibility there and need to better “educate” local consumers to raise their profile. Automotive maker Citroën shows the way with the success of its DS model positioned as a premium product playing with the codes of luxury: brand heritage, high scale service, extreme personalization, etc.


China is developing legitimacy in technology

Germany is strongly associated in Chinese people’s mind with automotive and technology, Italy with Luxury (but to a lesser extent than France), the USA with technology, aeronautics and Internet. In the field of fast moving consumer goods cultural proximity plays a major role as Korea and Japan are the most associated with Cosmetics while China and Japan are seen as leading countries when it comes to food.

In technological fields the USA and to a lesser extent Germany are perceived to be leaders, but China stands closely behind in its citizens’ view. Obviously China is becoming more and more confident about its own capabilities in the field of technologies, most probably thanks to the success stories of Alibaba, Huawei, Xiaomi and the likes.

One should notice that none of the investigated countries is clearly associated to sustainable development nor to high quality of service, two areas highly encouraged by the Chinese authorities and offering obvious opportunities to companies in today’s China.


This is an abstract from an article written by Christophe Jourdain and published in the Connexions magazine by the French Chamber of Commerce in China.

(*) With at least 5000 RMB monthly household income