Hermes China: How the French Luxury Brand Conquered the Chinese Market

Hermes is one of the most prestigious and iconic luxury brands in the world. Founded in 1837 in Paris, the company is known for its exquisite craftsmanship, timeless elegance, and distinctive style. Hermes offers a wide range of products, such as leather goods, scarves, ties, ready-to-wear, perfumes, watches, jewelry, and home accessories. However, among all its products, the most coveted and sought-after ones are its handbags, especially the Birkin and the Kelly.

Hermes has been operating in China since 1997, when it opened its first store in Beijing. Since then, the company has expanded its presence and influence in the Chinese market, becoming one of the most successful and respected luxury brands in the country. According to a report by Bain & Company, Hermes ranked as the third most popular luxury brand among Chinese consumers in 2020, behind Chanel and Louis Vuitton.

But how did Hermes achieve such a remarkable feat in a highly competitive and dynamic market? What are the strategies and secrets behind its success? In this article, we will explore some of the factors that contributed to Hermes’ growth and popularity in China.

Quality and Craftsmanship

One of the main reasons why Hermes is so admired and desired by Chinese consumers is its quality and craftsmanship. Hermes is renowned for its meticulous attention to detail, rigorous standards, and exceptional skills. The company employs more than 5,000 artisans who handcraft each product with passion and precision. The company also sources the finest materials from around the world, such as leather, silk, cashmere, gold, diamonds, and exotic skins.

Hermes’ quality and craftsmanship are reflected in its products’ durability, functionality, beauty, and uniqueness. Each product is designed to last for generations, to serve a practical purpose, to express a refined aesthetic, and to tell a personal story. For example, the Birkin bag is made of more than 200 pieces of leather that are cut, stitched, polished, and assembled by hand. The bag can take up to 48 hours to make and requires at least two years of training for an artisan to master. The bag also comes in various sizes, colors, shapes, and materials that can be customized according to the customer’s preferences.

Hermes’ quality and craftsmanship appeal to Chinese consumers who value authenticity, excellence, and individuality. They are willing to pay a premium price for products that are made with care, skill, and artistry. They also appreciate products that can reflect their personality, taste, and status.

Heritage and Innovation

Another reason why Hermes is so popular among Chinese consumers is its heritage and innovation. Hermes is one of the oldest and most respected luxury brands in the world. It has a rich history that spans more than 180 years and six generations of family ownership. The company started as a harness maker for European nobility and later diversified into leather goods, scarves, ties, and other products. The company has also collaborated with various artists, designers, and celebrities over the years, creating iconic collections and products that have become part of fashion history.

Hermes’ heritage gives it a sense of authenticity, tradition, and prestige. It also gives it a strong identity and culture that are rooted in its values, vision, and mission. The company’s values include creativity, quality, innovation, and craftsmanship. The company’s vision is to create objects that make life more beautiful and meaningful. The company’s mission is to provide customers with exceptional products and services that enhance their lives.

However, Hermes is not only a brand of heritage but also a brand of innovation. The company constantly innovates its products, processes, and practices to adapt to changing customer needs, preferences, and expectations. The company also embraces new technologies, materials, and trends to create new products or improve existing ones. For example, the company launched its first online store in China in 2018, offering customers a convenient and personalized shopping experience. The company also introduced new products such as Apple Watch Hermes, a smartwatch that combines Hermes’ design with Apple’s technology.

Hermes’ heritage and innovation attract Chinese consumers who respect tradition but also seek novelty. They are fascinated by the brand’s story and legacy but also curious about its future and potential. They are loyal to the brand’s classics but also eager to discover its new creations.

Scarcity and Exclusivity

A third reason why Hermes is so sought-after by Chinese consumers is its scarcity and exclusivity. Hermes is known for its limited production and distribution of its products especially its handbags. The company does not mass-produce or over-supply its products to maintain its quality and craftsmanship as well as its brand image and value. The company also does not advertise or promote its products to preserve its mystique and allure.

Hermes’ scarcity and exclusivity create a sense of rarity and desirability for its products. They also create a sense of privilege and prestige for its customers. The company’s products are not easy to obtain or own. They require patience, perseverance, and luck to acquire. They also require a substantial investment to afford. For example, the Birkin bag can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $300,000, depending on the size, color, material, and availability. The bag also has a long waiting list that can take months or years to clear.

Hermes’ scarcity and exclusivity appeal to Chinese consumers who love challenges and rewards. They enjoy the thrill of hunting and collecting rare and valuable items. They also enjoy the status and recognition that come with owning and displaying such items.

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