How Burberry is conquering China

Burberry in China

In china, Burberry represents a brand of prestige, far from what we know in France or England.  “Burberry” is a phenomenon in China; it is the brand that has managed to attract young and rich Chinese people in the last few years.

Chinese customers are looking for strong brands, a way of displaying prestige and success, and Burberry has quite met their expectations. Soon, China should represent 50% of the sales of the brand according to Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry Asia Pacific.

The results of the brand are incredible. Sales increased by 20% per quarter since over a year. The expected number of Chinese tourists for the Olympic Games in London is very important.

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It is not so easy! Burberry has suffered to see his brand worn by the Hooligans in England. In this article, I will analyze the strategy of Burberry in China and identify the key factors of its success.


Distribution of Burberry

All began in September 2010, Burberry acquired its franchise network and spent nearly 70 millions of pounds. This episode showed the willingness of the brand’s executives to take control of their distribution in China and attack the Chinese market.

More than 50 stores were taken in charge: 9 in Beijing, 4 in Shanghai.

Burberry now has a network of 75 stores in China and plans to reach 100 in the next five years. Burberry will thus settle in the 40 most important cities in China.


Opening of a flagship store

In April 2011, Burberry did a lot of buzz in China and opened the first high tech store of the brand in Beijing. The launch was done with a parade of holograms (see article Burberry parade hologram).

This parade is the largest public relations event ever seen in China for a luxury brand. It associated Burberry High Tech and gave great feedback throughout the country.



The positioning: London, Young fashion and High Tech

Burberry is undoubtedly the most famous British brands, a brand with a story, with a “classic” style cut “chic”!

Burberry is the London style. The brand communicates around this image: music, famous moment, and atmosphere of the English capital.

Whether in France or in England it is positioned on the upscale segment, in China it is a luxury brand and competes with major luxury brand like Louis Vuitton, Dior or Gucci.

“Fashion English”, the Burberry’s marketers has managed to give the English brand a “Fashion” and “Young” style.

If Prada or Vuitton have become icons for people, Burberry has chosen to position itself especially as a brand for young and fashionable people. The young “Fuerdai” alias son of rich people perfectly identify to these young British from wealthy families.

Burberry: High Tech brand

According to a study by McKinsey, 70% of buyers of luxury products in China are under 45years. It is thus important to adapt the products to the local target, very sensitive to the world of Internet and High Tech.

The opening of the store in Beijing gave another dimension to the brand. Burberry turned into modern luxury brand, at the forefront of technology. Burberry went further by settling Ipad and touch screens in their stores. This is a way to allow its customers to see the special collections, to watch parades and have access to new programs of Burberry.

This creates an unparalleled consumer engagement!


Communication in strategic places

Notoriety is a key success factor for a brand in China. Chinese people buy luxury products for the prestige and to build a good social status.

Nevertheless, Burberry is not very present in the magazines and displays. The communication efforts are focused on strategic locations like airports, famous places of shopping but especially on Internet.

The communication budgets of Burberry are less important than the other luxury brands ones. But, they have a very strong reputation Burberry has also benefited from the expertise and the talent of the Communication agency Ogivily, leader in China.


Burberry and Internet

Burberry is the brand that has spent the largest part of its budget in Event and intervention of designer. They constantly relayed all this information on the Internet. Chinese consumers like looking for information and comparing prices before buying a product.

The flagship video of Burberry was seen more than 3 millions time on Youku




Burberry: the connected brand

Burberry is undoubtedly the most present brand on the Chinese social networks. Their offline operations are relayed on line and followed by millions of users.

Associate the music, the new technologies and the fashion allows galvanizing the brand on Internet.

Everything is highlighted on Internet: Celebrities arriving on the red carpet, parades in the city, British pop concert or fashion ad with Emma Watson.

During the London Fashion Week in September 2011, Burberry launched the first live parade on the Chinese twitter. It has attracted thousands or real fans, engaging key opinion leader in order to create natural ambassadors of the British brand.

This creates commitment; the Chinese visitor will subscribe to Weibo to follow in real the different operations of the brand.

Burberry has managed to seduce “naturally” a large number of Chinese opinion leaders who helped to make the brand known and gave it a good image.

Burberry has also managed to interact with these new consumers to establish a dialogue on online platforms. Precursor in China, it differs from the traditional brands, which are inaccessible, exclusive and arrogant.

Result: 365 000 fans on Weibo (200 000 for Vuitton) and I big interactivity with fans.

The seductive advantage: Emma Watson


Chinese people love Emma Watson! Without knowing, she has a large community of fans who loves this young British girl.

Image of naïve girl, women child, cute, no rude, white… She represents an angel for the majority of Chinese people.

A big majority of the Burberry’s community is born thanks to this girl, each video or picture where she figures is reposted, shared or commented.

Lancôme (Digital leader brand) understood it and chose Emma as icon in China.

Emma Watson is known thanks to Harry Potter, which knew a big success this last 2 years, but Emma became more famous than Harry thanks to Burberry in China. She has her own style, clear skin, and represents the symbol of the occidental beauty.

For Chinese people, Emma Watson is the perfect girl!


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