A major first step for any brand seeking success in a particular market is to know that market. Between a U.S.-China trade war and anti-government protests in Hong Kong stoking tensions between Beijing and the city, companies seeking to attract shoppers in the mainland’s thriving luxury goods market must be particularly vigilant. Now is an exceptionally bad time to trip up.
Yet over recent months, luxury brands that have dominated the designer landscape for decades have fallen at the first hurdle when it comes to China, ruffling diplomatic feathers in Beijing and upsetting would-be customers.
Such was the faux pas of the Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana in November, which spun itself into a PR crisis after its “tribute to China” social media marketing campaign (seen at the top) featured model Zuo Ye struggling to eat pizza, spaghetti and cannoli using chopsticks. The concept was short on research and cultural sensitivity, and it sparked a boycott from Chinese consumers that saw Alibaba and JD.com pull the brand from its sites and department stores in mainland China gett rid of D&G stock. The fiasco almost ruined Ye’s career.
Not to mention that Stefano Gabbana plunged the brand deeper into controversy by appearing to perform a racist rant on Instagram, which the company said was the result of his account being hacked. The brand then cancelled its highly anticipated show in Shanghai. Nine months on and despite an apology, Dolce & Gabbana is still struggling to shake off the reputational damage. It wasn’t the first brand to be kicked off Chinese social media—Balenciaga felt the boot after footage of a security guard in a scuffle with a Chinese shopper in Paris last April went viral.
What’s a brand to do, then, when seeking to right its wrongs? ….[Read More]
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