Japanese retail giant Uniqlo just launched the first wave of their limited edition fashion collection with US artist Kaws in China. The reaction of consumers was so extraordinary that viral videos of crazed shoppers in a 'Black Friday' style frenzy sent the hashtag #everybodykaws trending across 140million views on Weibo.
Kaws' street style appeal and collaborations with luxury brands such as Dior, combined with a spectacular art installation in Hong Kong during Art Basel this year, created a mass following amongst next-gen in China and across the globe.
Cultural branding as a strategy has become imperative for Western brands seeking to attract Chinese consumers. This month Cartier unveiled a prestigious exhibition at the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City. The exhibition was carefully crafted to reflect both Cartier's heritage and culture, but also that of China.
Brands can no longer remain culturally blinkered. 'Italian made' is no longer sufficient to seduce the Asian market who want to see brands dialogue with their identity. This of course goes as much for China as for other regions.
With the growth of art collectors amongst new wealth in China and a general interest in limited edition collaborations among the next-gen population, integrating a cultural narrative into brand strategy is a winning formula.
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