Diptyque are a busy bunch: in researching this article, we found that if they’re not a favourite of Royals, they’re being boasted about by luxury hotels, being recommended by The Guardian or popping up at the Cha House in an event which was picked up by every media out there.
It’s a blend of ingredients that seems to come as naturally as the raw materials they passionately obsess over; deftness to be creative, a distinct, proud heritage and devoted fans that queue around the block for the brand’s latest experiential offering.
The growth of their already strong Chinese fanbase is happening alongside their own growth in the country – and it’s not by accident. How are they managing to direct the desired dovetailing of adhering to heritage while cultivating cultural deference?
The Luxury Conversation spoke to the brand’s MD, Fabienne Mauny to learn more.
What are the key values of Diptyque that you want Chinese consumers to firstly understand – and how is the strategy focused on ensuring the brand message is clear?
When we enter a new market, we’re welcoming new customers to discover the brand, and therefore it’s important to offer new customers the complete brand experience. This means that in the stores, from entry, they can immediately see and feel the values and heritage: what we stand for. The scent discovery is the first connection that will tell them, instinctively, what the brand is about. ‘Art of living through the senses’ means discovering the beauty and textures of French lifestyle.
The approach is consistent globally – meaning that one store does not look the same from one country or even one city to another. We try to tell the stories that relate to that specific region, by making references to the city where we have opened and being connected to the local community as much as we can.
The Cha House pop-up was incredibly successful! Why do you think this was?
It was very nice for the company to experience this level of popularity. After preparing well, we were confident, then proud and happy with the outcome. Those interested in Diptyque are naturally interested in discovering new experiences, and so this let them do that – discover, learn and understand better the ‘behind the scenes’ of perfume creation.
Our global and Chinese team worked together on the project, so it was about the expertise of the Chinese team, and their on-the-ground knowledge of how to create excitement.
Are you seeing particular fragrance preferences from Chinese customers as opposed to from other regions?
We don’t see that there is one particularly popular fragrance in China, for example, but what we do see is a popularity for the iconic fragrances – some of these are inspired by Asian scents to begin with and resonate in a special way.
We can look at candles as an example of a newer type of product – it’s an iconic product that’s better known elsewhere, while having candles in the home has not been so common in China. This means that for such ‘new’ types of product, we see a growing curiosity which needs to be addressed with more information and guidance.
With all of China’s unique digital world laid out in front of you, how do you best strategise efficient, more precise use of resources?
We work with the knowledge of our teams in China. A brand must trust their own experts internally in this way.
We entered in 2014 and so our initial goal was the establishment of the brand in Shanghai and Beijing. We’ve certainly remained focused on these two cities for four years, and recently we’ve opened in Chengdu, Nanjing and Chongqing, while now we are planning to open in Hangzhou also. We want to be sure that we don’t rush to grow, but take our time to open in different cities in the right way. There’s still huge potential in Shanghai and Beijing and therefore this existing presence always needs to be reinforced.
Regarding the target related to customers, they are mainly aged 25 to 35; a younger demographic than elsewhere.
They are very keen to discover new things; an ideal core target for Diptyque. Those more loyal to the brand and with a deeper understanding are those aged 30 to 35 and up, as they share the values related to the ‘art of living’ and the live in the same style as the brand.
What is your own take on China business operations – how do you balance having on-the-ground China expertise versus maintaining the link to Paris HQ and consistency?
In some ways we are not very big – so sharing between Paris and Shanghai offices is regular and efficient. This is my third trip to China this year already, while the Chinese team frequently visits Paris. Merging the two cultures ensures that we all have the correct and authentic way to have our values felt by all. When our China team visits Paris they feel fully immersed in our universe. The key team members have been with us for years which fosters a strong working culture that does translate to the customers in the right way: it means when we execute the marketing action locally, it’s done in the right way.
The brand itself has a strong personality – when you see it you know it’s Diptyque – and this comes from the strong French identity. However, success doesn’t come being overly strict with central control. The local market cannot only follow, but must have the capacity and ability to feedback to the headquarters and share their local knowledge. Everything must be two-way, transparent and interactive to ensure the local market team has their say.