Exclusive Brands in China

ESEUNE Business School Weekly Articles

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La Martina Business Case

Nelson Valderrama Trujillo

Nelson is an Industrial Engineer from Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Chile. Holds a diploma in Business Management from Universidad de Chile, and an Associate in Applied Science degree from College of Morris, US. With national and international experience in foreign trade, planning@marketing, project management, market research and corporate sales in Nestle and Toyota, Chile, and Lightspeed Researh in the US.

Currently he is attending a Global MBA in China from ESEUNE Business School.


Living in China for about one month, and planning to stay at least one year for business purposes, I had the great opportunity to participate in a master class with professor Manu Monasterio, where he presented us with a successfully proven framework which considers three main pillars to build a successful brand that finally sells in China. The mindset of it is the concept of e-achinar: build online Presence, Convince, and Sell.

La Martina Business Case reviews key points that any company should seriously consider at the moment of entering a market, especially a complex one as the Chinese, given, as we all know, the big gaps in terms of culture, language and purchasing behaviors. I will convey the message contained in this case, and I will comment on similar case applied to a business from my home country, Chile.

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La Martina uses its positioning as clothing brand leader for Polo fans and lovers. As partner of the Argentinian Polo Association, and sponsor of many championships where Argentina, one of the best if not the top one team in the world, La Martina successfully reflects an image of high quality, top end, high class brand for those exclusive and demanding Polo lovers and fans. From that place, it reaches an very favorable co-branding agreement with the world prestigious luxury Italian car maker Maserati.

Very favorable indeed, because to enter the Chinese market it uses not only the “brick and mortar” infrastructure of Maserati (Sales people at Maserati store in Chine wears La Martina clothing), but the digital one as well. From that, it builds up the brand by being present and active in the main digital environment of the Chinese online world: The Chinese Google Baidu, the Chinese Facebook RenRen, the microbloging SinaWeibo, y finally the Chinese Youtube Youku. This way, La Martina obtains the first goal of any business strategy which is to let potential customers know that it exists. More than that, it exist in line with a successful well known brand in the luxury car marketplace as Maserati, that count with 10 years of presence in the Chinese market.

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The second fundamental pillar is to Convince. La Martina achieves this by highlighting and communicating accomplishments. For example, being voted the “ sport brand of the year for the luxury car segment”, or becoming the sponsor clothing brand of the Maserati Polo tour, or Italy Centenary Rally.

All the marketing behind these important events give the image of top brand and convince people that wearing la Martina clothing will make them exclusive top class as La Martina or Maserati. In this sense, it exploits the aspirational attribute of Chinese culture. This way the brand becomes a desire one.

The next step, within the mentioned framework, once the brand has achieved presence and has convinced, is to sell. La Martina, after being received favorable opinion from one of the top bloggers in China, sells its clothing through its transactional website, which is in Chinese language and linked to Maserati website (which also offers La Martina products). La Martina products are also available at JD.com and Taobao.com, the Chinese Amazon and Ebay, respectively.

Polo, La Martina and Maserati mean elite and exclusivity in the world of sport, clothing, and luxury car respectively. La Martina, through its successful co-branding initiative with Maserati, appeals and exploits those attributes many Chinese search for.

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Bringing this experience to Chilean brands, we have the co-branding and merchandising agreement between the biggest Chilean winemaker Concha y Toro (house of the insigne brand “Casillero del Diablo”) and the most famous English soccer team Manchester United (more than 330 millions of followers, and 11/18 titles in the Premier League). This marketing collaboration has allowed the chilean winemaker not only keep a more active presence in the tough european marketplace but (supported by the presence of the Premier League in Chinese TV for several years) but has also helped it gain presence in the Chinese market. With this smart way to marketing itself, Concha y Toro is having a privileged access to markets in several continents, being Present, Convincing and Selling.