Maker Carnival 2012

On April 18, 2012 by Design China

This month, Maker Car­ni­val 2012 is land­ing in Bei­jing with an array of exhi­bi­tions, work­shops, talks and an Art Hack Week­end event. Ini­ti­ated by Bei­jing Mak­er­space, CMoDA and CAFA Design Lab, the project offers a rare oppor­tu­nity for the pub­lic to see what mak­ers are up to and to expe­ri­ence their “making-it-happen” lifestyle. Addi­tion­ally, our friends, Vega Zaishi Wang and Ritchie Chan of Triple Major will join 38 other artists, design­ers and engi­neers at Art Hack Week­end (organ­ised by The Cre­ators Project, Bei­jing Mak­er­space and China Youthol­ogy) to work on a col­lab­o­ra­tive project within 48 hours. More details.

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    • Creating Luxury’s Shared Stories: A New Definition of Chinese Consumers
      Creating Luxury’s Shared Stories: A New Definition of Chinese Consumers


      Every visit to a bookstore here in Hong Kong, and especially the business section, irks me for a particular reason. Littered across the shelves are titles that preach the promise of understanding the Chinese consumer with the ultimate goal of making money from them. I’ve even read a few, some which I find to be quite frankly rubbish. Industry jargon and technical words are used to highlight the differences between East and West, in such a way that any understanding derived from them is stilted and formalized- comprehended by cold graphs and figures rather than an approach that is intimate and humanized. It was therefore with pleasant surprise that Universal McCann recently contacted me to help them in their quest to understand the new affluent luxury consumer. Their report, entitled Shared Stores, possesses none of these traits mentioned above. During my correspondence with the research team, I was happy to find a group of people very willing to listen,and represent these new luxury consumers in an intuitive and respectful way. Shared Stories outlines the archetypal psychographic profile across three major growing luxury market segments: China, Russia and the Middle East. Through seven years of quantitative, digital, social research, the report has summarized and identified three different consumer segments and the drivers of their luxury purchases. Today marks the official release of this exciting report. Here are some of its findings about the Chinese consumer, and my thoughts about these claims:

      In Shared Stories, Chinese luxury consumers are titled as “The Essayists”. These group of people “wants to know and tell everything about an experience or a brand.” Luxury for them “means understanding what it means to live like the locals in any city; embracing culture, knowledge and understanding what a brand truly stands for and where it comes from.” All of this highlights the assertion that Chinese consumers are looking for authentic learning experiences, satiated by stories of true heritage and history. Editor-at-Large for Vogue China Angelica Cheung highlights this importance when interacting with the country’s new wave of fashion trendsetters. She sees the magazine’s role as one of education, helping to illuminate the differences between Balmain and Balenciaga. “What might be a [one] page feature in British Vogue would be a five- to six-page feature in Vogue China so we would have the space to educate,” says Cheung in an interview with Harriet Quick. The goal is not the demean such a segment, but to help lift them higher.

      Part of what propels China’s thirst for authenticity lies with many of the high-profile media firestorms that consistently hit the country and abroad. Events like counterfeit food scandals, a blatant lack of enforcement regarding copyright laws and so forth have bred skepticism by the general populace as to what is real and honest. Luxury brands, especially those with an illustrious history, represents a kind of storied stability and permanence. This hunger for luxury’s permanence is symptomatic of a population that has been so determined to propel itself out of poverty and into the upper echelons of financial security. Being rich and spending lavishly helps to protect one from the vulnerability of financial insecurity. Although many already enjoy great wealth, that mindset to create stability through material wealth and their associate stories lingers long after.

      Louis Vuitton for example is one such brand that strives to achieve that eternal, timeless quality. The brand’s marketing messages pivot around the motifs of travelling and the journey. One of their most significant films directed by legendary filmmaker Bruno Aveilan captures the eternally hallowed unspoken moments of humanity. This trend is also found with their previous campaign featuring Angelina Jolie shot by Annie Leibovitz in Cambodia, and their most recent safari-themed fashion film. All aim to capture the essence of humanity unbound by borders. Chanel’s digital initiative entitled Inside Chanel, also aims to capture and immortalize the history and story of its illustrious founder. In this instance, Inside Chanel recounts how culturally embedded and significant Coco Chanel was in history.

      These examples illustrate how all brands hope to touch customers in a transcendental manner, where a handbag nestled quietly on the shelf of an exquisite flagship store has transformed into an artifact of culture, sophistication, and unspoken permanence. Yet ultimately, such a marketing goal is not unique or exclusive to the Chinese consumer, but rather a shared desire felt by all those of us who live our lives in search of something more. This is the attraction and allure of luxury to China: the idea that a country may move mountains with its titan shifts from dynastic rule to communism to capitalism in a span of one century, but that luxury’s essence will linger long after…

      To visit Universal McCann’s website, please click here.

      Editor’s note: I want to humbly thank Universal McCann for the wonderful opportunity to work with them on Shared Stories. The Black Renaissance is proud to have been invited to and participate in the release of this report at the Asia House in London’s Mayfair.   

      Image/Video Source: Yoanna Liu, Bruno Aveilan for Louis Vuitton