Forum aims to help Chinese brands go global

By Guo Xiaohong
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 20, 2018

Chinese and French designers and scholars gathered to share insights on the relationship between design and branding as well as possible avenues for cooperation between the two countries at the Sino-French Design and Brand Forum, a panel discussion of the 3rd Sino-French Cultural Forum, in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, on Sept. 18.

Chinese and French designers meet in Xi’an for the 3rd Sino-French Cultural Forum, on Sept. 18, 2018. [Photo by Guo Xiaohong /]
Chinese and French designers meet in Xi'an for the 3rd Sino-French Cultural Forum, on Sept. 18, 2018. [Photo by Guo Xiaohong /]

"Art inspires design and design changes life," said Claire Peillod, director of the Art and Design Institution inSaint Etienne, the French capital of design. At the forum she said that design innovates, experiments and improves people's living conditions and helps to embrace the challenge of industrialization. 

Peillod hopes to see more Chinese artists and designers participate in the Biennale Internationale Design Exhibition held in Saint Etienne, the largest of its kind in Europe. A global gala for international designers, the exhibition showcases the latest design trends and offers a B2B platform for the design industry.

"Knowing and understanding each other leads the possible cooperation," she said.

Chinese designers and enterprises hoped to learn from their French counterparts, as France is home to many world-famous brands like Dior, Chanel, Pierre Cardin, and Louis Vuitton with the extensive list expanding every year.

"I am attending this forum hoping to meet and exchange with French experts in design and branding," said Yang Xuetai, director of the Quanzhou Industrial Design Association and a professor with Huaqiao University.

Yang believes a good design helps drive demand and pricing power, essential to developing a robust brand. He took his design for an umbrella company as an example. The new design helped to price each umbrella from the previous 20 yuan to the current 179-299 yuan. As a result, his client saw an annual sales increase of 50 percent.

Yang said Quanzhou, in southeast China's Fujian province, has numerous SMEs that produce life-necessities such as clothes, shoes, umbrellas and zippers. Top designers are in dire need as these enterprises aim to access the global market.

Building brands abroad is still an area where China's giants struggle, especially for brands of luxury goods and cosmetics. Only a few Chinese brands have entered foreign markets by working with intermediaries or foreign designing companies, a way to reduce the risks and cost, rather than direct distribution.

Herborist, a Chinese cosmetics brand, succeeded in Europe 10 years ago by cooperating with Centdegres, a French designing company, which helped Herborist redesign products and packaging from its original historic, traditional and rustic vision, explained Matthieu Rochette-Schneider, general manager of Centdegres China branch, to Schneider was in Xi'an to attend the 3rd Sino-French Cultural Forum.

Embracing local culture and blending it into the design proves to be an efficient way to entice international customers, said Schneider.

Wu Yiran, executive president of Bonjour Shanghai, said cultural integration and top design could help a brand win global business.

Chow Tai Fook, a Hong Kong-based jewelry retailer, received an olive branch from Galeries Lafayette, who was originally reluctant to allow entry to the brand, after Chow Tai Fook developed a new jewelry brand which was well received by international high-end clients. Wu's company managed to bring Chow Tai Fook top-notch French designers for the new brand that blended the cultural elements of China's Forbidden City and the Palace of Versailles.

"Chinese product should change into 'Chinese design or Chinese brand' in the future," said Yang. He hopes more cooperation can be built up between China and France, through which China's own top designers and brands could seize a share of global market.

Initiated by former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Chen Zhu, vice chairman of China's National People's Congress Standing Committee and president of the Western Returned Scholars Association, the Sino-French Cultural Forum was first hosted in Beijing in 2016 and the French city of Lyon last year. It has become an exchange platform for culture, arts, education, technology and economic sectors between the two countries.

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