As China celebrated Lunar New Year, Michael Kors focused on giving the brand a Chinese authenticity. The fashion label became the first luxury brand to roll out branded stickers on popular photo-sharing app IN, following similar efforts by beauty companies to engage the app’s 60 million users.
Amid China’s economic woes, consumers are still shopping. The Asian powerhouse generated nearly half of luxury sales in 2015, and global companies continue vying to tap into the lucrative market. Doing so, however, can require a delicate balancing act.
“The challenge for luxury fashion brands is to stay true to their DNA while remaining relevant to local consumers,” said Lisa Pomerantz, senior vice president of global communications and marketing at Michael Kors.
While most global brands selling in China have established presences on platforms like Weibo and WeChat, creating localized content is often an afterthought. Only 26% of global brand sites feature localized editorial content and a mere 6% include user-generated images, according to L2’s Intelligence Report: Localization.
“We remain true to our brand by showcasing glamorous, aspirational imagery, but we’re also always evolving the way we connect with our customers by tailoring content and experiences to local markets,” Pomerantz said.
In China, the IN partnership introduces Michael Kors to millions of local users; Pomerantz also pointed to the brand’s creative efforts, like the YOUNG CHINA multimedia exhibition in Beijing last November. Presented by Michael Kors in partnership with VOGUE China, the exhibition highlighted six up-and-coming Chinese actresses, with the real-life experience amplified by posts on Weibo and WeChat.
However, creating localized content in China also has its risks – particularly when it comes to Lunar New Year. Last year, several global luxury brands attracted ridicule for their clumsy efforts to create marketing campaigns around the holiday. Burberry was one of the main offenders, drawing widespread criticism for releasing a scarf monogrammed with the Chinese character for prosperity. This year, the brand celebrated more subtly, using WeChat to release an interactive game and scarves in new hues. For Michael Kors’ campaign to pay off, the brand will need to retain that lesson in authenticity.