Welcome to the second issue of Retex China’s monthly newsletter, bringing you the latest updates from China straight from our Shanghai team.
This month, we will highlight the effectiveness of Chinese macroeconomic policies in addressing current challenges. We’ll analyze the economic impact of the Asian Games in Hangzhou and the Golden Week, and then delve into trends in the Fashion, Luxury & Design world. We’ll also explore new frontiers in Chinese technology, taking a look at the record installations of industrial robots in 2022 and the express delivery service via the Beijing metro. Lastly, we will delve into the growing Daigou business, which has been expanding year by year.
Keep reading to discover the latest economic and cultural trends in China!
Macro Economy News
China’s microeconomic policies are effective, the economy is growing positively
Chinese microeconomic policies prove effective in mitigating current challenges. During a press conference by the State Council Information Office of China, strategies were outlined to stabilize economic growth, bolster confidence, and address structural challenges.
Positive signs emerge in consumption, with the reduction in interest rates for existing mortgages aiming to enhance purchasing power and promote consumption growth. Concurrently, the accelerated distribution and use of special bonds have expanded investment opportunities, with local governments issuing 2.95 trillion yuan in special bonds from January to August, constituting 77.5% of the annual quota.
The Asian Games in Hangzhou
The Asian Games, held from September 23 to October 8, marked a record with the highest number of participants in their history, generating a significant impact on the local economy. Hangzhou, the hometown of Alibaba and a renowned internet hub, embraced the digitization of sports during the event. Utilizing AI technology, the city enhanced the sports experience by offering advanced features such as reservations, payments, and tutorial videos in 36 public sports venues, 83 municipal fitness centers, and 134 private fitness locations.
The economic benefits are evident, with investments made for the Asian Games in the period 2016-2020 contributing approximately 414.1 billion yuan to Hangzhou’s local economy, representing 7.6% of the city’s overall growth.
China’s railway system has reached 190 million trips during Golden Week
During the Golden Week in China, more than 190 million train journeys have taken place. The railway system has geared up to handle an average of 15.83 million trips per day, with a peak on September 29th. This significant passenger flow reflects robust growth fueled by the combination of holidays. To meet the increasing travel demand, over 11,500 trains have been scheduled daily.
Fashion, Luxury & Design News
Regarding the performance of publicly traded international fashion companies, the sector has not experienced a surge despite the end of the epidemic.
Beauty and luxury groups initiate a new wave of acquisitions.
- The acquisition of Capri Group by Tapestry has become the most sensational event of the year in the luxury industry. Kering Group and Richemont Group have also made new acquisitions, with the former acquiring a 30% stake in Valentino for €1.7 billion, and the latter acquiring the Italian luxury footwear brand Gianvito Rossi.
- In the cosmetics sector, L’Oreal’s acquisition of Aesop coincided with its entry into the Chinese market, sparking discussions in the industry. Additionally, after Mijifang Investment Company, a subsidiary of L’Oreal, invested in the Chinese high-end perfume brand Wen Xian DOCUMENTS last year, Estee Lauder Group invested this year for the first time in the domestic beauty brand codemint dude’s skin, demonstrating its enthusiasm for emerging brands in China.
Regarding brand development strategies, two points frequently mentioned in the financial reports of various companies stand out.
- One is the importance of the Chinese market: at the beginning of this year, major groups, one after another, visited China to conduct market research.
- The second is that, with the recovery of travel retail, luxury brands have opened new stores in airports.
From September 14 to 16, Prada globally launched its Fall/Winter 2023 Seed Project, collaborating with florists in the streets and shopping centers of boutiques in Milan, London, Paris, New York, Dubai, Seoul, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Qinhuangdao, and Tokyo, offering a limited edition of Prada’s Cornflower, Eryngium, and Corydalis seeds. The project received significant appreciation among Chinese consumers.
In July 2023, Victoria’s Secret entered into a collaboration with the pioneering Chinese designer Rui Zhou for the creation of the first co-branded collection between a Chinese brand and Victoria’s Secret, titled “Victoria’s Secret x RUI-built.”
Throughout 2023, the LVMH group made several strategic moves to strengthen its presence in the Chinese market. Starting in April, Louis Vuitton entered the Hainan market, followed by Dior in July with the opening of the DIOR TEARS Limited Edition Boutique in Zhang Yuan, Shanghai. In August, FENDI Casa officially debuted in the Chinese market with the opening of its third flagship store at Plaza 1788, West Nanjing Road, Jing’an District, Shanghai. In September, DFS opened a boutique at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, boasting one of the largest duty-free retail spaces in the Chinese market. In the same month, Dior expanded its presence by opening its first boutique in Shandong, precisely at Hisense Plaza in Qingdao.
The Kering Group was equally active. In April, Gucci inaugurated the “GUCCI COSMOS” exhibition at the West Coast Art Center in Shanghai, offering a journey through the brand’s 102 years of history and cultural heritage. In June, Saint Laurent, in collaboration with contemporary artist Cai Guoqiang, presented the pyrotechnic show “The Day Cherry Trees Filled the Sky” in Iwaki City, Fukushima, Japan. In the same month, Saint Laurent announced the opening of its store at Guangzhou Baiyun Airport T2. In July, Bottega Veneta chose to organize its Winter 2023 fashion show in Beijing, while Pomellato presented the “Art” exhibition in Milan at Plaza 66, Shanghai, and opened a limited-time experiential space in the same location.
In July 2023, Vans, part of VF Corporation, launched a footwear collection in collaboration with the Chinese lifestyle brand Tagi.
In April 2023, the L’Oréal Group acquired Aesop from the Brazilian beauty group Natura & Co. with a $2.5 billion investment. Between June and September of this year, the brand opened three new stores located at Shanghai Grand Gateway 66 Plaza, Shanghai Jing’an Kerry Center, and Shenzhen Vientiane City.
Throughout 2023, Estée Lauder undertook several significant initiatives in the Asian market. Starting in April, LE LABO opened its first store in the country, strategically positioning itself in key locations such as Xintiandi North Lane in Shanghai and the cities of Sanya and Vientiane. Concurrently, Estée Lauder successfully collaborated with the well-known Chinese fashion brand FENG CHEN WANG, launching a joint beauty collection that captured consumers’ attention. In the same period, La Mer, a brand under the Estée Lauder umbrella, contributed significantly to the group’s expansion by opening the world’s largest duty-free store at Haikou International Duty Free City. With an area of 242 square meters, the new store not only offers the entire range of the brand’s products but also exclusive services such as a VIP lounge, a consultation area, and a space dedicated to facial treatments.
In July 2023, the skincare brand Grown Alchemist from the L’Occitane group officially debuted in the Chinese market, making its products available at prestigious flagship stores on Sephora’s Tmall and JD platforms. The product line, characterized by affordable prices ranging from 120 to 780 Chinese yuan, is now accessible to Chinese consumers. To commemorate this significant launch in the Chinese market, the brand organized a four-day themed event at the Shanghai Yuyuan Department Store.
Luxury & Design
Change Capital Partners has sold its entire 100% equity stake in the prestigious Italian luxury home linen brand, Frette, to a Hong Kong-based consortium known as Raza Heritage Holdings. The consortium, valued at approximately €200 million, was co-founded and continues to be co-led by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Anta Sports.
On September 13, the Watches & Wonders event returned to Shanghai after two years, showcasing classic collections and the latest creations from 14 prestigious Haute Horlogerie brands on the West Coast. This time, the event was open to the public and featured a series of conferences, exhibitions, and workshops aimed at engaging younger generations more closely.
Science and Technology News
IFR report: China installs record number of industrial robots in 2022
In 2022, China set a record by installing 290,258 industrial robots, marking a 5% increase compared to the previous year, according to a report by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). As the world’s largest market for industrial robots, the Asian country reported the highest annual number of installations globally, significantly surpassing other countries on the list. The IFR stated, “This recent increase is notable as it exceeds even the result from 2021, which already saw a 57% increase compared to 2020.”
China was followed in the ranking by Japan, the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Germany. However, the positive trend in the number of installed industrial robots (increasing by 13% annually between 2017 and 2022) is unlikely to continue in 2023 due to the slowdown in global economic growth, as indicated in the report.
Beijing subways pilot express delivery service to cut carbon emissions
In Beijing, a pilot project for express delivery via the subway was launched during off-peak hours. The primary goal is to reduce road congestion and lower carbon emissions in the Chinese capital. Beijing’s urban rail transport network has steadily grown in recent years, currently consisting of 27 lines covering a total distance of 807 kilometers. According to Wang Shuling from the Beijing Transport Institute, this project leverages the extensive subway network to facilitate the transport of parcels, contributing to the decongestion of roads. This is a significant step considering that the capital handles approximately 15 million express packages daily, with most deliveries currently being made on the road.
The Daigou market in China is estimated to be worth USD 81 billion
LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault said that there is nothing worse for a brand’s image than daigou, a business that has grown by 40% compared to 2019. As explained in the Daigou Index 2.0 report, Daigous are a kind of personal shoppers who buy luxury products in Western countries to resell them in China. This business was born out of the huge price differences between China and the rest of the world, and is becoming increasingly professional. They pose a threat to brands as they lose control of their image and products in the Chinese market.
Shanghai Fashion week
The 21st edition of Shanghai Fashion Week took place from October 8 to 16 under the theme “Vitality Interlinked.” Approximately 100 national and international brands organized events to launch their new products.
Sustainable fashion took center stage, with the Kering Group hosting the third edition of the Kering Sustainable Innovation Pioneer Award ceremony. Harrods, the renowned London department store, reintroduced the Harrods Bee Program, focusing on discussing topics such as “sustainable materials, sustainable product design, and sustainable innovation for retail.” Additionally, during Fashion Week, the opening ceremony of the exhibition “The Future of Fashion” dedicated to innovative materials was held, featuring the participation of Stella McCartney, the founder of the brand.