The world of luxury is dominated by the big brands of Europe. Yet it’s consumers in China who are driving the industry, accounting for 31% of global luxury sales according to a Bain & Company report.
While the vast majority is spent overseas, Chinese luxury fashion brands are looking to capitalize on this trend, to change spending patterns and drive investment within China.
Yan Dong is an MBA student at France’s EMLYON Business School looking to help Chinese luxury fashion brands compete with the big boys of Europe. After graduation, she wants to work in retail environment design to help improve consumer experience and increase awareness of Chinese brands worldwide.
Yan Dong has spent almost a decade working in all aspects of fashion and retail in China; marketing, project management, supply chain and operations. As a Chinese student in Europe, her MBA experience has opened up a whole new world of opportunities.
What are your career plans?
I want to work for large retailers and international corporations with operations in China. In the long term, I hope to use my expertise to work with up-and-coming Chinese brands to enhance their retail environment.
Increasing numbers of Chinese brands are aiming to establish themselves as premium or luxury brands and raise their brand awareness worldwide. And to achieve this objective, an attractive and comfortable retail environment is just as important as product innovation and quality.
This can mean an eye-catching window display, or a relaxing in-store environment with space, natural lighting and a pleasant aroma.
Can Chinese luxury fashion brands compete with the big brands of Europe?
As more and more foreign brands establish operations in China and bring new fashion trends, this, in turn, cultivates the domestic fashion industry in China. And with ever-improving creative designs and the right business management, Chinese brands have great potential.
Plus, many Chinese fashion designers - Uma Wang, Christine Lau, Masha Ma - have made their way to top fashion world. Showcased in fashion shows in Paris, London and Milan, their works integrate unique Chinese elements, helping the world to understand and accept Chinese fashion.
How is luxury marketing changing in the digital era?
Dramatically! Digital marketing creates greater competition, and requires companies, big or small, to be equally innovative to survive and prosper in the business world.
And big data gives businesses quick access to information about consumer behaviors and enables them to do a better job in managing customer experience. Soon, personalized marketing driven by big data will become the norm.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at EMLYON?
To work or study in Europe is a dream I’ve had for a long time.
I also wanted to learn the skills required to become an international leader in fashion and retail. And when I was looking at MBA programs, I couldn’t decide between a general MBA and an MBA in luxury management.
EMLYON offers both: it has general MBA courses and offers elective courses specialized in the luxury industry.
How have you adapted to life as a Chinese MBA student in Europe?
The majority of Chinese tend to avoid confrontation and are indirect when giving feedback. We don’t often express our ideas or stand up for the ideas we hold. In European culture it’s quite the opposite.
So, at the beginning, I found it challenging to adapt to a foreign education system and teaching methodology. But when I look back now, it’s been an incredible experience, opening up multiple possibilities for future career development.
What advice do you have for Chinese students looking to do the same?
Be yourself, don't forget your roots and share your ideas and your culture. But, at the same time, be open-minded, learn the language and accept and adapt to the cultural differences.
How have you profited from your MBA experience so far?
Taking a MBA program in Europe is definitely a life experience worth having. It means not only career improvement, but also self-evolution.
And the international experience at EMLYON is amazing; we have 24 different nationalities in a class of 43. It’s openend up a brand new world.