Newspaper article International New York Times

Getting in Touch, Digitally, in Asia

Newspaper article International New York Times

Getting in Touch, Digitally, in Asia

Article excerpt

Velvet, an agency based in Shanghai, helps luxury clients with their social media strategies.

Despite its economic downturn, China continues to lead luxury spending, accounting for 31 percent of global sales, according to the annual report from the consultancy Bain & Company.

But brands, including some of the world's biggest luxury names, still need help in telling their stories in China.

"You need to educate the Chinese market," said Patrice Nordey, a digital consultant. "The challenge is the way you tell the story. You have to look to the future and be contemporary in communication."

Mr. Nordey and his Shanghai agency, Velvet Group, are helping to decrypt digital in China for clients such as Dior and Bottega Veneta, advising them on how to reach shoppers through native social media such as Weibo and WeChat.

"China is a great playground to work for luxury companies, even though they're late in adopting these trends," he said.

In 1998 Mr. Nordey began his own online magazine, which the French television network M6 later bought. He then worked with L'Atelier, BNP Paribas's finance and technology digital consulting arm, which took him to China.

Even though he grew up in the window-shopping paradise of Paris, Mr. Nordey said he didn't know much about luxury, or at least he didn't think he did, until he moved to China. "It was a specialty I didn't know I had," he said, until he realized he was a Parisian accustomed to luxury as quotidian.

Mr. Nordey branched out in 2013 and opened his Shanghai agency after deciding he wanted to "live the big adventure of digital here."

He says that in China, Western brands cannot expect to be successful if they use the same techniques they use at home. "Delivering a campaign full of Caucasian faces doesn't work," Mr. Nordey said. "Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne with Mango work. …

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