Collectible toys are undeniably the top consumption trend among Chinese millennials and Gen Z. The size of the collectible market has witnessed sizeable growth with a compound growth rate of 34.6% from 2015 to 2019, according to iiMedia Research. Cashing in on the trajectory, British French luxury perfume house, Creed has unveiled a collaboration with local collectible toy brand RobbiART to launch the world’s first art scented toy.
House of Creed first entered the Chinese mainland market almost two years ago and won the hearts of the local consumers by building brand awareness in all the popular social channels such as WeChat, Red and Douyin.
In the lead-up to the Lunar New Year, the latest limited-edition capsule collection between Creed and RobbiART is inspired by a rabbit-and-peony illustration from the perfumer's recent work with Hong Kong based décor store Lala Curio.
The collection is available in two sizes and is fitted with a special NFC chip accessible via scanning the left foot on the mobile. Beside boasting a unique number as a collector’s art toy, it also comes with a removable backpack that has a scented ceramic label of Creed’s signature scent, Silver Mountain Water.
Talking about the original design inspiration, the brand’s founder, Rhea He, explains that Robbi “is a unique soul that “grows” from the perspective of Gen Z, combining the images of Chang'e and Yutu from ancient Chinese legends with futuristic fantasy, and other tech elements. “He maybe human, maybe rabbit, or neither. No one knows what is inside his aerospace helmet,” she adds.
House of Creed’s CMO, Giles Gordon, the scented art toy “will live physically in our stores across the world, in 3D video assets across our owned and earned media, and virtually in the metaverse with China’s leading virtual KOL, Ayayi.”
With its striking similarity to a rabbit, Robbi has become quite a favourite for brand collaborations this year. Recently, L’oréal unveiled a series of gift boxes and limited-edition large-sized art toys in red and gold details. Ports have also launched products in collaboration.
Campaign sat down with House of Creed’s CEO Sarah Rotheram’s to learn about the brand’s expectation of the China market in 2023, its experience navigating the pandemic in the past two years and capturing the digital-first audience.
When Creed was launched and grew in China from scratch, what were the challenges, especially during the pandemic? How did Creed cope during this time?
Sarah Rotheram: Creed officially launched in China via ecommerce in 2021, first on Tmall global for cross border, then on Tmall classic, and then we opened 14 of our own stores in Mainland China across cities such as Shanghai, Chengdu, Beijing, and Hangzhou to name but a few.
There were a number of challenges across the world. Since we operate in multiple markets, all experienced a different cadence of Covid, as well as different restrictions at various times. What we noticed though, was a constant underlying demand for Creed, similar to the effect that other luxury brands noticed at that time. One of the biggest challenges was being able to pivot our planning in real-time to ensure we kept up with customer demand and government regulations.
The key to our success on this was our China team, who are experienced and nimble, and each capability lead has decision-making power, hence we were able to move fast without the barriers of bureaucracy.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen many interesting digital campaigns from Creed in China. Which would be the one that you are most proud of and why?
We have taken a very strategic approach to our marketing in China, partnering with our agency Red Ant Asia. We have planned out campaigns/projects that we feel move the needle for us in creative ways that are consumer-centric, very curated and importantly that we can all feel genuinely excited about. For example, we love to use WeChat native functions such as the digital red packets for CNY gifting, as it’s a nice gesture to offer our community something that is very useful and contextually relevant to them, as well as offering WeChat ready tools like our fragrance finder.
But, I have to say, I am probably most proud of the Creed x Robbi collaboration as it’s a digital-first initiative that enables us to express our personality in both the digital and physical worlds. This type of project is very Creed, as it’s about uniting our artisan brand with likeminded creators and coming up with something magical that goes beyond traditional marketing. And, with our ROBBi collab, we are so very proud that it was concepted and made in China, and is now going global.
What does the brand share in storytelling to attract users in a new market like China? Any case you’d like to share?
We have so many stories to share, that’s the beauty of Creed. We have been around since 1760 and have been at the heart of fashion, fragrance and luxury lifestyle – our origins are from tailoring in London’s chic Mayfair with discerning clientele for over two centuries.
Creed continues its great tradition of sourcing, researching, inspecting and commissioning the finest materials from around the globe. Rose from Bulgaria, Turkey and Morocco, Florentine Iris, Calabrian bergamot, Haitian vetiver, Bourbon vanilla, Italian jasmine and the finest ambergris are just a few of the signature ingredients found in Creed fragrances.
China reopened the border in January. What would be your outlook for the business? Is there any new plan you would like to share with us in the new year?
We are very excited about the reopening of China, and I can’t wait to get back to the Mainland and visit my team, partners and friends. I love China and have been many times, and I cannot wait to spend more business and personal time there this year. We have very big plans for China, including more physical retail experiences, new product launches and more China-specific projects and exciting collaborations.
Many predictions said that it could be a softer year for advertising globally. What would you think of the brand’s expansion plans in China?
We are quite blessed in that we have a very loyal consumer who loves the brand, and we are fast growing in existing markets, and we see demand in new markets. Nevertheless, in China, unlike some other markets, we really are at the early stages of our evolution, so our job is to bring the ultimate Creed experience to as many new customers as possible. Hence for us, we see 2023 as finally putting Covid behind us, and being able to fully fulfil our potentially strategically and creatively.