Cunning Clarks

Two days ago, I did the last interpreting work for a visiting Traditional Chinese doctor. Before he went back to China, we talked about shopping and laughed about how visiting officials to the UK all chant ABCD  while shopping. A is Aquascutum, B Burberry, C Clarks and D Dunhill. Especially this C, when I interpreted for many visiting officials, they always bought dozens of pairs of Clarks shoes as if they were free!

Out of curiosity, I looked for Clarks in China and realized: Clarks is generally priced over ¥1000 (over £100)–while they are normally around £50-60 here in the UK and even cheaper with a discount or in outlets. Of course they would shop with such a ‘passion’.

But is it a purposeful marketing strategy? Among the four elements, there is not much different with the product (good quality) , placement (major shopping malls) or promotion (occasional discount). It is price however that allows some variation. Perhaps the producer intentionally created a gap between the UK price and the China price, so on one hand, there is a good profit margin on sales in China and on the other hand, Chinese shoppers in the UK rush to take the advantage and buy more because of the price gap.

As for translation of the name, maybe the translator thought transliteration boring, and would rather include the meaning ‘happy and harmonious’ in the renaming ‘qile’. I personally think there is nothing wrong with transliteration for this one, as the original name is easy to pronounce and remember. Many shoppers, after coming to the UK, change from calling the Chinese ‘qile’ to the British ‘Clarks’.

Whether on purpose or through sheer luck, there is something to learn from Clarks’ pricing strategy, especially with the now bigger than ever Chinese shopping groups and their thicker than ever wallets.

This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified)

14 Comments

  1. avatar

    ????????????,?????????????

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    • avatar

      Day dreamer!

      Reply
      • avatar

        ??dream??come true?

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        • avatar

          ??????Dream???

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    • avatar

      Hi Toggl teamIt is so nice to see the Chinese translation, it would make it esaeir to recommend it to others.The translation has a mistake, the [???] should translate into “??” or ???? , because ?? means language but not Chinese.

      Reply
    • avatar

      All of these atricels have saved me a lot of headaches.

      Reply
  2. avatar

    Price difference is due to its history and 2 different busines models. Margin in China is broken down in the distribution chain as too many playes have a role in the line. Distribution costs in China are quite high and the import duty on China made goods itself doesn’t help.
    Name came from the history. Qile is the Cantonese sound translation of Clarks as in the early years it was the Hong Kong distribution who managed the Clarks business in China.
    A good read. Thanks.

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  3. avatar

    I think it’s also the culture of conspicuous consumption that is much more prevalent in China and has much less of a stigma attached to it than it does in the UK. I recently did a dissertation on the opium trade to China in the 18th century and Yangwen Zheng, writing on opium, described ‘yanghuo re’, I can’t speak Chinese but she basically said it was a consumer trend for Western things. I would say that either this never went away or it has certainly returned with a vengeance today.

    Whilst certain brands are a status symbol everywhere, I think in China there is a difference of opinion of what should be sought after in a luxury brand, to that of the West. This might seem extremely condescending and wrong but: I think the Western consumer in the 21st century looks for an artisanal style of product, that is something that looks like care and specialist attention has been paid to it in it’s production, if you see those Honda ads they are quite a good example. Also I think that is part of the reason why some brands like Jimmy Choo are extremely sought after in the West, perhaps because they have the arrogant marketing strategy of making themselves deliberately seem limited and difficult to obtain; whereas in China other brands that have much broader advertising strategies and produce a lot of products, such as Christian Dior, although this too is a luxury brand; will be more popular than the post-industrial boutique market of the West, relying solely on price, with fame and price trumping exclusivity and price. A better example would be that ubiquitous American brands like Wal-mart (Asda in this country) and McDonalds are known for there poor quality in the West but, whilst not haute-cuisine, they have a much better reputation in China. Although both cultures place a high importance on value of these products as status symbols, I think status symbols are more important to modern Chinese than to Westerners. This is part of the reason why China is the world’s second biggest consumer of children’s luxury brands: a child does not need Gucci, nor does it really suit him.

    The Chinese government has put massive tariffs on foreign brands in an effort to promote consumption of domestic products, but in the current Chinese consumer culture that has actually had the effect of making Western products look even more desirable than native ones. Western companies were forced to sell at higher prices but now they realise that this is actually beneficial because of the cultural difference and perhaps a less discerning Chinese consumer when it comes to foreign goods. I think that’s why Haagen Dazs don’t sell in Chinese supermarkets and French wine is 5 times the price that it is in Europe.

    Pardon the essay
    from Dan, your estranged CCS volunteer

    P.S.- You have the only good blog in the whole, wide web.

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    • avatar

      * typo, a ‘there’ should read ‘their’, it always make you look like a prize tit when you’re writing a pseudo-intellectual rant and make basic grammar mistakes.

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      • avatar

        You can start celebrating now because I can confirm that I am in our nation’s capital, but for one week only! I just finished my final finals. Not only am I available for coffee, but I would in fact very much like to reconnect and have a coffee some time. When are free? My phone number is O7896 578 235.

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          Got the number. Maybe sometime in July. I will not be in London for June. Congratulations on finishing your finals!

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        • avatar

          You write so honestly about this. Thanks for srhaing!

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    • avatar

      Dan, is that really you? Really? Where are you now? Been 4 years, right? Please tell me you are in London and available for coffee.

      Thanks for the comments. I totally agree with you on the ‘yang huo re’-fever for western goods. Age difference should also be taken into consideration. Middle-aged group is relatively more attracted to western luxury brands as they are financially well off, can afford it, and since they were not so exposed to western culture in the past, anything western has an unique attraction to them. For the younger group, some really put a lot of efforts in promoting local chinese brands, whilst others are extremely mad about gucci, lancome or LV bags.

      As the more expensive things are, the more exclusive they become, the Chinese govt tariffs have indeed unwillingly/unconsciously benefited western brands. If Haagen Dazs were not sold at 25yuan/scoop (2 years ago, not sure if the price is up again now), and instead at 2 yuan, like most other local brands, not sure if there would still be a long queue outside its gate, and if it would still be the ‘ideal’ dating venue.

      Reply
  4. avatar

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    Reply

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