WALKING THE WALK
How crisis begat opportunity
“Crisis offers a good opportunity to recognise the outstanding partnerships that have been built throughout the year,” says Parfums Christian Dior Senior Vice President Travel Retail Olivier Dubos, who reflects in this exclusive commentary on the maison’s long-standing relationship with China Duty Free Group (CDFG).
Dubos notes that in tough times, “friendship and trust take a new meaning”. Faced with the challenge of overcoming the biggest crisis in industry history posed by the COVID-19 outbreak, Dior has had to rethink its entire travel retail business and adapt to a landscape where nothing is a given and few of the old metrics hold true.
In the midst of a crisis of this magnitude, Dubos highlights how CDFG and President Charles Chen have led the way in terms of recovery; and how a relationship based on strong pillars of friendship and trust are offering increasingly bright light at the end of the long and dark COVID-19 tunnel.
It’s a relationship that Charles Chen also rates highly. “We are really happy to have the exciting strategic partnership with Dior,” he tells The Moodie Davitt Report.
“China still has great opportunities with huge potential, even during the current difficult time. CDFG is the most reliable partner for all brands.”
Overcoming an unprecedented challenge
In Chinese, the word crisis is symbolised by both “danger” and “opportunity”, writes Olivier Dubos.
When we faced a complete halt of our business, our very first thought was to take care of our front liners and staff during an exceptional moment of personal distress and uncertainty. I am particularly proud of Parfums Christian Dior and the LVMH Group for having shown — at a very early stage — so much social responsibility and solidarity; putting people and safety first and contributing positively to the world.
The impacts of the crisis were unprecedented. I have gone through many in travel retail, including the SARS outbreak and the financial crisis, but nothing of this magnitude. Travel retail has always shown a lot of resilience through tough times, and is often the region cushioning the turmoil of another. However this time, the crisis was a global one.
In just a few weeks, we had to re-map the whole year both financially and also in terms of the activation of our entire trade plan. We had to eliminate quite a lot of animations and events, as airports were slowly shutting down one by one.
Empathy and solidarity: Parfums Christian Dior was one of the first maisons tapped by LVMH to begin the production of hand sanitiser, while Christian Dior Couture began producing face masks and surgical gowns
“All the metrics that were relevant before somehow became unsuitable to a future after Covid-19.
The crisis forced us to rethink our business: The customer experience in a travel retail store, how customers will interact with our products in the future, and what the ‘go to market’ will be after the crisis.”
Parfums Christian Dior Senior Vice President Travel Retail Olivier Dubos
China at heart
As I note in my introduction earlier in this publication, CDFG — under the leadership of its President Charles Chen — has become a very important partner for Parfums Christian Dior. I remember when we first met and learned of the ambition that Charles shared about CDFG and his impressive vision of the future for the Chinese travel retail industry.
He had thought it all through from distribution models to click and collect; from ecommerce to digital communication; from drive to store to broader omni-channel strategies. Underlining all of that was an amazing understanding of the Chinese traveller. In tough times, similar to the one we are going through now, long built partnerships, friendships and trust take a new meaning.
Dior’s Ode to the Rose: In May 2019, CDF-Sunrise Duty Free celebrated the inauguration of a unique cluster of eight luxury concept stores from some of the most illustrious names in beauty at Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 2. One of the eight was Dior, a first of its kind store in the world for the brand, which offers a full immersion into premium skincare range, Prestige.
This partnership with CDFG was aimed at supporting their initiatives in China and overseas, and grew even more relevant with the regular launches of Dior’s exclusive offerings, Instagrammable experiences/mega events, and omnichannel projects.
“We are really happy to have the exciting strategic partnership with Dior. China still has great opportunities with huge potential, even during the current difficult time.”
CDFG President Charles Chen
In reality, and as Charles has already mentioned in the past, China is the world leader in travel retail. This is especially true if you remove the significant daigou activity from other countries. In China, the rapid development of CDFG’s operational capabilities represents an exceptional opportunity for any brand now and long into the future.
The Parfums Christian Dior boutique in the acclaimed CDF Mall in Haitang Bay
Hainan and China Duty Free Group lead travel retail out of crisis
Today, CDFG’s offshore duty free business in Hainan is the first to see a resurgence. What a relief and a pleasure it was for all of us to see Hainan reopening in April and to see the CDF Mall in Haitang Bay filling up with shoppers in a safe environment ever since, particularly since July and the introduction of the enhanced offshore duty free shopping policy as part of the exciting Hainan Free Trade Port masterplan. The CDF Mall has always been the most impressive travel retail mall in the world, and we are very proud to be a part of it.
Agility and readiness are key during difficult trading periods. Despite the circumstances, the CDF Mall’s April results were very encouraging and even experienced double-digit growth versus last year. The entire travel retail industry is grateful to Charles and his team, who have worked tirelessly to reopen the CDF Mall in a safe way, to restart the business in such a short time.
We are glad to support CDFG’s local initiatives, accelerating the business both online and offline, while simultaneously giving Parfums Christian Dior some fantastic exposure.
Dior dazzles in Daxing: China Duty Free Group has assembled a stellar beauty offer at the new Beijing gateway
Dior has also launched a number of popular travel retail exclusives with the retailer. Pictured is the exclusive Dior Prestige skincare set.
“The CDF Mall has always been the most impressive travel retail mall in the world, and we are very proud to be part of it”
The Designer of Dreams pop-up at CDF Mall last October provided an immersive experience for consumers
CDF Mall has become a global hotspot for high-profile brand promotions over recent years, particularly for beauty products
Embarking on a new journey with Dior Skincare and Capture Totale
All this is very compatible with our domestic market business in China where we are joining forces to build excitement and desirability around our best-sellers.
CDFG understands brands and supports their global development. Their reach goes way beyond travel retail. This is especially true for Dior skincare, which is currently gaining a lot of traction for our Capture Totale Super Potent Serum.
Thanks to CDFG’s ongoing support, our Maison has become known as a leader in both the fragrance and make-up categories, particularly for the Rouge Dior line.
We are now building a very strong pillar around skincare & Capture Totale, and entering the skincare battle with all our strength, technology and customer experience knowledge.
Virtual becomes Reality for Dior
Parfums Christian Dior has signed as a Platinum Partner of the inaugural Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo, taking place on 12-16 October.
Parfums Christian Dior Senior Vice President Travel Retail Olivier Dubos said: “We are very pleased to be part of a revolution, a new digital journey, with the first Moodie Davitt Virtual Expo, to connect with our partners and to be able to share an immersive vision of Parfums Christian Dior innovations and development strategy, with contents never seen before.
“This rich, amazing opportunity will strengthen our close partnerships around the world and will bring a vision that we will be able to share and operationally execute at our best globally.”
The Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo takes the form of a ‘live’ 5-day event followed by a 30-day showcase.
The Moodie Davitt Report Founder & Chairman Martin Moodie said: “We are so excited to have a beauty maison of the stature of Parfums Christian Dior join us on our virtual journey. Dior is a byword for innovation and excellence and their participation adds immense lustre to a premium show.
“We thank Dior for their belief in the concept and look forward to bringing retailers and buyers from all around the world to experience their never been seen before content.”
“We are very pleased to be part of a revolution, a new digital journey, with the first Moodie Davitt Virtual Expo, to connect with our partners and to be able to share an immersive vision of Parfums Christian Dior innovations and development strategy, with contents never seen before”
Parfums Christian Dior Senior Vice President Travel Retail Olivier Dubos