It’s no exaggeration to say that China is going through one of the most profound periods of political, economic and social change since the country opened up to the world four decades ago. The turmoil of the country’s commitment to ‘zero Covid’ and its rolling lockdowns, increasing geopolitical polarisation and isolation in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, and domestic crackdowns on big tech and other industries as part of a push towards ‘common prosperity’ are all challenging established norms and practices. What does this mean for luxury?
Adapting to this evolving consumer space has never been more important. Shifting values around work, consumption and culture are driving the emergence of newly expressive, confident, yet discerning communities of shoppers. Sustainability, long considered a niche, is ascending the list of consumer priorities, yet the definition of the term and its scope remains contested. The globalisation of the Chinese consumer has led to at-times clashing ESG agendas and cancel cultures. Balancing these differing demands and crisis planning for any potential fallout has become a key task for senior decision makers.
Yet despite the rock and hard place brands sometimes find themselves sandwiched between, there remain exciting opportunities for creativity. Collaborations and crossovers are now a cornerstone of many strategies, allowing brands to experiment and expand in thought-provoking ways that resonate particularly strongly with younger generations. There is much inspiration to be drawn from the innovation of China’s ‘new retail’, most notably its integration of online and offline experiences across all parts of the customer journey. Collaborating with emerging design talent demonstrates a sensitivity and commitment that goes a long way with target audiences, with London now positioned as a hub of cross-cultural creativity.