Daily Insights

#NewEra Burberry’s China Digital Adaptation

By: Liz Flora | Jul 30, 2019

Burberry’s turnaround bid is finally paying off according to its fiscal Q1 results. The brand’s newfound growth is led by the China market, where digital investments have been key along with the brand’s new Tisci-led aesthetic. 

The British fashion label reported China growth in the “mid-teens” and single-digit increases for other regions in its Q1 trading update, and specifically called out China’s top messaging app WeChat as a platform where it’s seeing traction. 

Riccardo Tisci’s logo and design revamp that began in 2018 was cited as a major reason for the brand’s growth, but Burberry’s #NewEra actually got off to a bumpy start in the China market. The brand’s 2019 Chinese New Year campaign launched in January was shot by an American photographer and criticized online in China for being too somber for the holiday. Burberry ultimately dropped in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Luxury China 2019 ranking thanks in part to its softened social engagement, which was also due to a lighter emphasis on celebrities and the departure of pop megastar Kris Wu as brand ambassador.

But the brand’s new campaign for the Qixi Festival shows that it has adapted quickly to Chinese web users’ demands. For this China holiday, it changed course and went with a local agency that was culturally familiar with the market to create its “Love: I Have the Final Say” campaign. Featured across the Burberry brand site, WeChat, Weibo, Douyin and Tmall, the campaign features a set of four vignettes about love starring the brand’s celebrity ambassador Zhou Dongyu. Including “long-distance love,” “self-love,” “idol love,” and “pet love,” each video is accompanied by a set of pieces from the brand’s Qixi Festival collection. Purchase is available via site, Tmall, or the brand’s sophisticated Qixi Festival Mini Program. 

The campaign’s comparatively positive (and less avant-garde) vibe has garnered a positive online reaction, with users in the comments expressing admiration for Zhou Dongyu and gushing over the adorable cat in the “pet love” video. “Zhou Dongyu and the kitty are both equally cute!” says one of the most-liked comments. The brand may have taken a page from the playbook of Gucci, which had received a much more positive response to its Chinese New Year campaign with its campaign starring cute tiny pigs.  

China digital platforms have been a significant part of Burberry’s global comeback strategy. The brand previously cited “good progress” with WeChat commerce in its 2019 annual report, stating that it “became the first luxury brand to integrate our full Chinese stock onto the WeChat platform, allowing customers to pay through WePay.” Its B Series drops on WeChat also found early success. Its trajectory shows that adaptation to local digital trends is just as crucial as aesthetic updates for luxury brands’ global growth strategies.