Western fashion brands have a hard time succeeding in China. Getting local was the old mantra, but as globetrotting Chinese find a difference between localized products and their global appeal, they also have a problem, says branding expert Shaun Rein to Reuters.
H&M is opening more stores in China this year than anywhere else in the world and the country is already the second biggest market for Inditex outside Spain.
China is a big draw for retailers who hope to tap the aspirations of a fast-growing middle class, with mid-range names benefiting as consumers trade down from luxury brands since Beijing’s clampdown on corruption and conspicuous spending.
But recent history offers plenty of examples of failure. Western brands that have struggled in China include Gap Inc , Abercrombie & Fitch and Marks and Spencer , which decided last year to close five stores in smaller cities to focus on flagship stores in large cities and online.
“Most of the Western fashion labels that are mid-range fail in China. A large part of it is that the styles and the fit are so completely different,” said Shaun Rein, founder of market intelligence firm China Market Research…
Rein of China Market Research says Western brands must strike a delicate balance.
“You have to keep your global brand image and you can’t be that creatively different in China than other markets. The Chinese travel around the world,” he said. “It is good to localise. But it hard to localise an aspiration.”
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