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T-shirt row sees Chinese consumers walk away from luxury brands, research claims

Chinese consumers have turned their backs on luxury brands Coach, Givenchy and Versace after they printed t-shirts proclaiming Hong Kong and Macau as independent countries, research has claimed.

 

Despite all three brands apologising earlier this month, “the damage had been done”, a study by YouGov found.

The t-shirt designs featured lists of various cities next to their respective countries. All three brands listed Hong Kong and Macau as separate countries.

Since the controversy, Givenchy’s positivity ranking tumbled from  +27.2 to +4.0, while Coach, which had a score of +9.3, fell to +0.2.

Versace, meanwhile, dropped 23.2 points to -11.6.

YouGov APAC head of data products Ervin Ha said:  “Accounting for one third of the world’s luxury good purchases, Chinese consumers are undoubtedly important clientele. Unfortunately, not one, but three big brands managed to make the same faux pas – offending people at a particularly sensitive time.

“Hopefully, it is a lesson that won’t repeat itself, as it is clear that even a timely apology is not enough to appease offended Chinese consumers.”

Other metrics saw a decline with Chinese consumers now less likely to recommend the brands. There has also been a drop in perceived quality and value of the luxury brands, YouGov said.

All three companies also saw the departure of brand ambassadors.

Actor and singer Yang Mi terminated her contract with Versace, supermodel Liu Wen apparently walked away from Coach and Jackson Yee, a member of boy band TFBoys, said he would no longer work with Givenchy.

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