This article originally appeared on our sister site, Jing Daily.

Key Takeaways

  • By the second half of 2020 and 2021, luxury houses were increasingly experimenting with offline events in China that went beyond simple catwalk shows, tapping into new trends like immersive exhibitions.
  • With a commitment to the Chinese market, Chaumet has built up a matrix of celebrity endorsements outside of its three brand ambassadors that cover three generations: the post-’80s, post-’90s, and post-’00s.
  • Chaumet’s exhibition engaged dynamic communities — including artists, cultural pioneers, fashionistas, and young talents from selected top universities — thanks to leading figures from these areas who visited.

Online traffic is a golden ticket for brands vying for market shares in China, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past two years, livestreams, digital campaigns, and e-commerce have all exceeded sales expectations in the country. And today, this online disruption is shaping how millions of Chinese consumers shop for luxury.

At the beginning of the pandemic outbreak, all brands and retailers embraced digital channels to some extent, hoping to counteract in-store losses and capitalize on this quickly growing sector. But to the surprise of many, these online activations have become indispensable strategies within luxury brand agendas.

Yet, with digital marketing tactics like celebrity endorsements, pop ups, and collaborations becoming China’s “new normal,” the country’s digital platforms are now increasingly crowded. As such, retention has become the latest challenge for legacy houses.

Among today’s often-used tools, a combination of livestreaming and celebrity endorsements has proven to be an efficient one that kicks off immediate distribution. But if luxury brands prefer to cultivate consumer commitment over the long term and build solid relationships with local customers, how can they communicate that to target audiences?

With 241 years of history, the LVMH-owned jewelry Maison Chaumet offers a solution to this pain point — its Tiara Dream exhibition, running from November 4 to 30 in Sanlitun, Beijing. Here, Jing Daily investigates how the French house introduced the art of Parisian jewelry to local audiences and is enriching its brand equity in the process.

Leveraging art exhibitions as a vehicle of mass education

Tiara Dream‘s physical exhibition in Beijing was accompanied by an online component, in the form of a WeChat virtual showroom. Photo: Courtesy of Chaumet

Throughout the second half of 2020 and 2021, luxury houses increasingly experimented with offline events in China, branching out beyond simple catwalk shows to tap into trends like immersive exhibitions. In fact, Chaumet led this approach back in 2017 by opening its Imperial Splendors exhibition at Beijing’s Palace Museum.

Presenting the largest collection of Chaumet pieces in China’s most recognized art and history institution, the show firmly established the Maison’s high standing among a new mass audience. Meanwhile, its recent Tiara Dream exhibition was centered around Chaumet’s world-famous tiara masterpieces, including precious antiques and contemporary works, as well as a large number of house archives and manuscripts exhibited to local audiences for the first time.

To elevate visiting experiences, Chaumet incorporated holographic projections and interactive installations while launching a virtual showroom on WeChat that featured interactive programs for users to personalize their journeys. Both initiatives facilitated multi-dimensional curation, consisting of six pillars, including Power of the Past & Today, Eternity, Fashion, Love, Destiny & Transmission, and Creation.

Approaching celebrity endorsement with a twist

Chaumet’s brand ambassador Lay Zhang at Tiara Dream. Photo: Courtesy of Chaumet

In addition to the show’s dedicated curation, celebrity partnerships also helped Chaumet maximize its local reach. The house’s in-depth collaboration with brand ambassador Lay Zhang began in 2016, substantially increasing brand awareness in China. But its communications have lately focused on expanding brand equity and virtuosity. This shift indicates an upgraded approach to celebrity endorsements.

With a commitment to the Chinese market, Chaumet has built up a matrix of celebrity endorsements outside of its three brand ambassadors (Lay Zhang, Gao Yuanyuan, and Nana Ouyang). Each of them narrated one theme for this exhibition and highlighted different pieces. These celebrities cover three generations: the post-’80s, post-’90s, and post-’00s.

While collaborating with China’s creative talents, Chaumet insisted on co-creating content with them instead of merely using celebrities as marketing tools to gain social traffic. All the brand’s digital assets were customized according to personality and talent type, including music, film, and more. This advanced strategy goes beyond homogenized brand campaigns and delivers a multi-layered heritage.

Building a solid brand-owned ecology from offline to online

The spectacular exhibition space in Sanlitun, Beijing. Photo: Courtesy of Chaumet

For the month-long exhibition, its two major campaign hashtags — #ChaumetTiaraDream and #ChaumetSpectacularExhibition — garnered a combined viewership of 311 million on Weibo and stayed active thanks to the brand’s digital efforts. On Xiaohongshu and other platforms, Chaumet differentiated its content strategies according to users’ familiarity with the brand, helping it nimbly realize its goal of consumer education. With that, the total impression across multiple digital platforms racked up to 396 million, with over 2.5 million users engaged in the digital tour of the exhibition via the WeChat Mini Program.

Meanwhile, the exhibition engaged dynamic communities, including artists, cultural pioneers, fashionistas, and young talents from selected top universities, thanks to leading figures from these areas who visited. The exhibition’s storytelling and Chaumet’s brand identity were explored through various lenses and reached different groups at both online and offline touchpoints.

“Chaumet guides visitors to travel through time and space, connecting not only different social forms and fashion, but also different cultures,” said You Yang, deputy director of UCCA, China’s globally recognized contemporary art institution. He also applauded how Chaumet keeps pace with the times while maintaining its traditional spirit when speaking to today’s younger generations.

Though the luxury industry has been re-contextualized in social surroundings, its unique allure always lies in cultural, artistic, and technological attributes that transcend time. Communicating the challenges of creating and maintaining these masterpieces to target audiences is a long-term mission that requires patience, continuous investment, agility, and a trailblazing attitude. With this exhibition, Chaumet set a benchmark for hard luxury brands that want to improve their narratives and desirability in China’s ever-evolving market.


Jing Culture & Commerce