International brands are cashing in on Expo 2010 Shanghai by launching new limited edition products and developing their customer bases in the city, as well as across China.
Shiseido, a Japanese cosmetics company, launched a new range of perfume, Shanghai Bouquet, in March especially for the Expo and drew inspiration for the bottle’s design from the magnolia, Shanghai’s city flower. The perfume, sold exclusively in Shanghai, costs 150 yuan ($22).
The US sportswear giant Nike designed two styles of running shoes that bear an image of Haibao, the official Expo mascot.
The Finish mobile phone company Nokia, the Swiss watchmaker Swatch and a number of other big brand names have followed suit with Expo-related products.
Luxury high-end brands are also trying to cash in on the Expo. Prada’s limited edition handbags and key rings feature images of the Oriental Pearl Tower, a Shanghai landmark.
Meanwhile, Karl Lagerfeld, the head designer at Chanel, used traditional Chinese patterns on his latest collection, including earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
In the past, World Expos have provided an ideal opportunity for marketing. At the 1935 Expo Brussels, Lancome, a relatively small company at the time, attracted worldwide attention when it displayed five bottles of perfume in the France Pavilion. Since then, Lancome has become a world-renowned brand.
Qi Xiaozhai, dean of the Shanghai Commercial Economic Research Center, considers Shanghai’s vast, growing market to be an important factor in the influx of foreign brands offering Expo-related products.
“Lancome’s success might not be repeated, since there are now more sources of information,” he said. “But Shanghai still has huge market potential, so these products should sell well.”
Qi’s prediction was correct. Shiseido’s China office has been receiving more than 10 calls a day asking where to buy its new perfume, which is also available outside the Japan Pavilion in the Expo Garden.
In contrast, Nokia’s Expo editions, which are priced from 1,980 to 3,000 yuan, are currently out of stock.
“Some customers buy three or four phones at one time and order more,” said Benjamin Jia, manager of the gift shop in the Finland Pavilion.
China is the second largest luxury goods consumer in the world and top international brands have opened flagship stores in Shanghai, the country’s commercial hub.
In the first half of this year, 24 high-end brands established offices and opened flagship stores or additional outlets in Shanghai.
“The Expo can arouse the passion of shoppers. Compared to other cities, Shanghai usually has the widest selection of products,” Qi said.
Business opportunities are not confined to designing special products. The French luxury brand Louis Vuitton is showcasing all of the products it previously displayed in World Expos at Plaza 66, a luxury shopping mall on Nanjing Road in Shanghai
The L’Oreal Group, another French company, is an official sponsor of the Expo and has participated in a variety of activities, including taking orphans to visit the France Pavilion.
Chinese brands are the missing element.
“Lack of innovation has resulted in the decline of China’s local brands. Chinese corporations should seriously consider how to use this rare opportunity to pave the way for their future development,” Qi said.
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