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Diageo's Experimental Marketing to Attract China's Luxury Goods Consumers

BritCham / CBBC
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Diageo is the latest luxury-goods company to try experiential marketing in China, where many newly affluent consumers are unfamiliar with the heritage of Western brands and want guidance on how to appreciate unfamiliar foreign products.

Earlier this year, BritCham- CBBC member Diageo opened its first Johnnie Walker House outside of Scotland in Sinan Mansions, Shanghai. Those who receive a coveted invitation are offered a unique, one-on-one chance to learn about Scotch whiskey.

Whiskey is still relatively new to wealthy Chinese but it's catching on fast in a country where 20 million new consumers reach the legal drinking age each year.
Sales to China are up 35% this year. Greater whiskey consumption has led to an increased desire for information, which Diageo is happy to provide, said Mr. Law of MHD. "We look at what we call creating the new Chinese gentlemen. You can't just know wines, cognacs and Baijiu now. Knowing whiskey is important too."
Diageo's companions on experiential marketing projects in China include luxury marketers of Swiss watches, fine wines, jewelry and fashion.

"Experience does matter a lot for the luxury consumers because they need to feel the brand. It's very important for them to understand the culture of the brand and believe in what the brand is selling them," said Elan Shou, senior VP and managing director-China at Ruder Finn.
In other examples, a Home of Alfred Dunhill store was established in a restored neoclassical villa in Shanghai several years ago, and Hermes-owned Shang Xia celebrated its one-year anniversary in September.
Cartier has held classic-jewelry exhibits in China, and Giorgio Armani has opened Armani bars. L'Oreal created an online social network, Rose Beauty, around its Lancome brand to offer advice beyond skin care and cosmetics.

Diageo "has been extremely astute" by making Bartle Bogle Hegarty's global "Keep Walking" tagline for Johnnie Walker relevant for the Chinese, said Charles de Brabant, Asia director at Saint Pierre, Brabant, Li & Associates. "But one of the things that brands need to think about [is], 'What do I want to give these people over and above selling them my product?' You have to lock into the lifestyle of those people [and find out] what is important to them," he added

"Lots of shoppers, especially outside of the tier-one cities, are new to luxury brands and easily scared away," said P.T. Black, Thoughtful China's senior creative director.
"Brands talk about the education of the customer, but education goes both ways," Mr. Black said.

Souce: adage

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