Branding with the Dragon: how luxury brands leverage Chinese culture
Posted by: Labbrand Consulting Co., Ltd.
Date added: Tue 22 May 2012
For example, in the super car segment, Ferrari, Dartz, Rolls Royce and Aston Martin all rolled out their perspective dragon editions. Rolls Royce’s Phantom Dragon Edition debuted in 2011 and features the dragon symbol throughout its design. With a whopping $1.2 million price tag, the Phantom Dragon was sold out in merely 8 weeks, demonstrating the hype and buzz associated with dragon editions by luxury brands. Aston Martin also introduced its “Dragon 88 model”, linking both the lucky dragon symbol with the most favourable number in China, 8.
*8 (ba) is associated with the word? (fa) in Chinese, it carries the meaning of “becoming wealthy”
To name a few, Ulysse Nardin launched its new gold watch, the Classico Dragon, decorated with a dragon-emblazoned enamel champlevé dial with just 88 pieces. DuPont presented handcrafted dragon pens and lighters with gold plating. Versace also launched its “Year of the Dragon” handbag with only 210 bags featuring black leather and golden Chinese dragon embroidery similar to the colour and style used by ancient Chinese royalties.
Why are brands flocking to the Dragon?
The dragon symbol is the most influential icon in Chinese culture and carries the meaning of luck, wealth and authority. This powerful icon was once reserved exclusively for the Chinese emperor; civilians who dare to use any dragon symbol on their clothing or house decoration will the face the death penalty (for him and his entire family). This exclusivity is linked to the nature of luxury brands, the idea that only a few can afford and own such products. The dragon is the best choice for this association and its rare appearance every 12 years creates opportunities for brands to boost sales, media attention, and brand esteem.
In China, aspiration toward career success and recognition is deeply incrusted in the cultural behavior. Showing others the success is particularly important. Luxury brands understand this perspective and continue to build and associate relevant symbols and metaphors to strengthen their brand identity. By incorporating the dragon figure and limiting on the number of items, luxury brands are telling a story about exclusivity and fine quality.
China sees its number of millionaires and billionaires increase along with the demand for luxury and high-ends products. With the entrance of most major luxury brands in China, competition speeds up to center on being culturally relevant for the Chinese consumers.
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