Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Apr 25, 2014

DFS to shake off 'duty-free' image with rebranding to luxury-travel retailer

HONG KONG / OKINAWA - DFS Group (DFS) yesterday renamed its only stand-alone duty-free store in Japan from 'DFS Galleria' to 'T Galleria by DFS'—the latest in a global rebranding campaign that will change the identity of stores in Hawaii, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Guam and Saipan.

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The first DFS location to be renamed was Hawaii in September 2013. Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and now Okinawa, followed, and Guam and Saipan are slated to change in mid-2014.

The 'T' in 'T Galleria by DFS' stands for 'travel' and represents the group's "ultimate evolution in luxury travel retail", said Sibylle Scherer, president of consumer marketing and branding at DFS. Philippe Schaus, chairman and chief executive officer, DFS Group, added that with more than 50 years of heritage, DFS is a "symbol of trust and quality for the traveller".

Storefronts have been refurbished and in-store displays made over as part of a broader effort by DFS to elevate its brand trappings to those of a luxury retailer. The storefront at T Galleria Hong Kong, for example, were "framed" with airplane windows that brings to attention the in-flight element of the campaign. Inside the stores, video projections illustrate postcards being written.


Special services also aim to enhance that positioning, from multilingual and brand-neutral sales associates to a 100 per cent worldwide guarantee for all products. The company's rewards programme, LOYAL T, also offers members free delivery and transportation services to and from hotels and DFS downtown stores. From the business standpoint, the longer dwell-times at downtown stores make up for the traditionally shop-and-go transactional shopping environment at airport stores, said Scherer.

The brand wants to stand for a luxury shopping experience "customised for those with a passion for discovery and adventure", said Scherer. For that reason, a global spring/summer campaign for T Galleria centres on the concept of a postcard, said John Gerhardt, senior vice president of branding and creative at T Galleria/DFS.

"A postcard is a simple but powerful medium, and the emotions attached to the act of sending postcards are often associated with the excitement of travelling—whether it is a personal memento of your travels or sent to someone special back home," Gerhardt said.

The campaign has already been rolled out with a range of activities including in-store activations where customers can photograph themselves with a mega postcard prop and a photo exhibition in collaboration with some of the most prolific Instagram users. “In a world of electronic communication, the postcard feels fresh, nostalgic and romantic–qualities we see even in social media, as on Instagram with its different filters,” added Gerhardt.

A six-part video series also aims to "whisk customers away on an adventurous and imaginative journey to iconic destinations". The series is set against iconic DFS destinations around the world, including Bali, Hawaii, Singapore, Hong Kong and highlights six luxury brands: Burberry, Ferragamo, Coach, Longines, SK-II and Chopard.

To infuse an illusory feel to the videos, DFS partnered with British director cum visual artist Mat Maitland, who is best known for his collage work in which fashion, pop culture and art intersect. Models Karen Elson and Jae Yoo front the videos, with shots of them sitting in plane cabins and then entering into "hyper-real worlds of playful surrealism" before reaching their destinations.

For example, penguins appear atop pedestals of beauty products while tropical fish swim alongside flamingos in the Hawaii spot in saturated colours. The "visually stunning" videos always end with a postcard, which acts as a portal to the campaign. "Being fantastical and whimsical is what luxury is about," added Gerhardt.

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