Aline Conus, when is the first time you were in touch with wine?
Aline Conus : I was baptized with yellow wine from the Jura region in France. That event took place some 29 years and a few month ago: I was a few months old!
Aline Conus, why you choose wine things as your job?
Aline Conus : Wine is my passion and most of the wine knowledge I have today was given to me by my father who was a passionate wine collector. When time came to pick a job, I thought I might as well pick a job which I truly love and that makes me happy every morning since I was planning to spend an average 12 hours a day at work for many years. Waking up every morning and being truly excited about the day to come makes me happy…so embracing wine as a job was an easy choice, a choice of passion.
Aline Conus, to this job, what’s the advantage or disadvantage for a female?
Aline Conus : Well, being a lady in a gentlemen’s world is always an advantage, isn’t it?
Aline Conus, recommend a wine which is your favorite, and pls give some brief information abt it, (Origin, grape varieties, prices, where available, tasting Record)
Aline Conus : Chateau Haut Brion Red 1945 holds a very special place in my heart, right next to Richebourg 1961 from La Romanee Conti 1978 (my birth year) which is related to an unforgettable family and friends’ reunion back home.
Chateau Haut Brion is a red wine from Bordeaux, made of the traditional “Bordeaux blend” of grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. This is a wine has no price…it is wine to be shared amongst close friends. Tannins are complex and rich, the nose is mysterious and the finish is still astonishingly long (about 4 seconds when tasted in 2008).
Richebourg La Romanee Conti 1978 costs around 2000 USD per bottle in the UK or US and can be found at auctions from Christie’s or Sotheby’s and through some established wine brokers in London. It is made of 100% Pinot Noir grapes and can be purchased at some specialized shops in Burgundy, its native region. This wine has a fine and discreet nose, on the palate it will show red fruits, soft tannins and an amazing liveliness for a wine this old.
Of course these two favourites of mine are available upon request on www.yangjiu.com
Aline Conus, how to pair this wine and food?
Aline Conus : Haut Brion 1945 is a monument in itself and for me will bear no food, it is close to a spiritual experience.
As for the Richebourg 1978 is concerned, I would serve it with an oven baked stuffed pigeon or a oven baked deer in wine sauce.
本次2012年英国奢侈品峰会由英国奢侈品协会WALPOLE组织召开，与会代表逾200人，聚集了全球奢侈业领军人物、专家以及实业家，其中相当一部分来自中国和亚太地区。峰会超豪华的演讲嘉宾阵容包括：Dunhill集团全球市场总监–Jason Beckley先生、Hublot腕表行政总裁–Jean Claude Biver先生、国际奢侈品人力资源咨询公司创始人、合作伙伴和亚洲总监–Charles de Brabant先生、意大利奢侈品企业协会CEO –Armando Branchini先生，E-luxury Brands Distribution行政总裁–Aline Conus先生、Quintessentially国际精英会CEO– Ben Elliot先生、御爵八音盒CEO– Kurt Kupper先生、中国奢侈品联合会常务副秘书长—季迎春先生、美圣瓷器(MEISSEN) CEO– Christian Kurtzke先生、VALUE RETAIL集团主席–Scott Malkin先生等。峰会再次将焦点聚集中国市场，关注中国大陆、香港及澳门在内的整个大中华地区奢侈品市场业态，纵观整个大中华区奢侈品市场过去十二个月的发展情势，对未来1-2年内大中华区奢侈品市场的发展前景和趋势做出了深入探讨和研究。
One foreigner who has won over the Chinese online shopper is French-born Aline Conus. She set up Yangjiu.com (the word means ‘Western alcohol’ in Chinese) in 2007 after realising that there was an untapped market for selling high-grade imported wines and spirits to China’s nouveaux riches over the internet. She launched it as a one-woman show and has nurtured it into one of the top online foreign wine e-tailers in China, with a staff of 15. Last year, Conus says, the company made a profit of around $2m. Here she talks to CNBC Business about modesty, mistakes and millionaires.
WHO ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS ?
We have three main groups. Firstly, the white collars, the younger generation of Chinese who have just started working and doing well for themselves. They want to try new things, new brands and imported products. They are very curious and they need a lot of information. The second group is the VIP client. These are successful entrepreneurs. They really want the best. They find it really cool to buy online, and they can afford to buy everything. The last group is made up of corporate clients who buy our products as a gift.
Until the 20th century, black was the colour of widows and labourers while the aristocracy was donning colourful outfits. Then the young Coco turned black into class, and by the time CHANEL’s logo was synonymous with French luxury, the darkest hue had become an indispensable colour in any ladies’ wardrobe. Who doesn’t have those everyday black pants, that little black dress, or the default black suit in their wardrobe?
Pictured right is a striking example of a lady who has carefully picked a few key pieces and assembled them into a sport-inspired style that breaks the rules, but can be comfortably worn at work. The overly sexy 1940s look of the season is being challenged.
This pants suit is living proof that black can be a fashion statement. More than a suit, it is her way of saying: “The world is mine”. This new take on last year’s harem trousers reminds me of the latest from Vanessa Bruno with its cool, contemporary twist and draped panels. The slim cut of the skinny ankle is very flattering and perfectly balances the silhouette, adding this little je ne sais quoithat makes it so much more playful than the traditional Yves Saint Laurent cigarettes.
What is the suit we all need this season? We all seek some urban chic element: classy with a hint of sex-appeal, feminine and versatile, plain black because black can never be upstaged. Everything is in the details here: from the luxurious fabric to the side seams. Even the empowering shoulders create an understated, relaxed, youthful way of being chic. The cropped sleeves of the jacket make it a good first step into winter.
A daring top creates the true edge of this look. The soft jersey back is in deep contrast with the leopard print front and creates the necessary harmony to any truly fashionable outfit. It looks comfortable and relaxed, yet classy and refined. Is it from Michael Kors? Whistles? Marc Jacobs? D&G?
This exquisite pair of sky-high nude platform stilettos with the lovely pearl detail at the back could be from Gina (my fabulous little Italian shoe paradise for the past 10 years), Mary Ching, Versace or Miu Miu. To wear such shoes in Shanghai, one needs to have high self-confidence and to know the world is hers…
Aline Conus is the founder of MyMingpai, China’s premier online luxury fashion and lifestyle retailer. From women’s fashion to men’s cosmetics, one can find gifts and get unprecedented access to the hottest looks of the season from international brands with China-wide express delivery. Web: www.mymingpai.com
In the old days the affluent customer was reassuringly homogeneous. Catering to his tastes was a doddle. Most rich people liked the same things (big houses, old masters, antique furniture, fine wines, grand hotels) and as soon as the once-poor acquired new-found wealth they wanted what they’d once envied from afar. Nowadays, as all companies involved in selling what for want of a more user-friendly word we must still call luxury goods will be only too aware, it’s a much more complex matter. Taste codes are subtle and complex and take a lot of reading. Wealth is much more widely distributed, even in these tricky times. It encompasses, at a modest guess, some 10 million people or more. They come from traditional Western countries but increasingly from India, China, Brazil, the Gulf states.
This means the customer is much harder to pin down. He comes in many nationalities, from vastly different backgrounds, with widely ranging tastes. The target markets for many of Walpole’s members probably range from those living in a very nice, non-mortgaged house, with savings of about £1m and the person who’s amassed some £10m, has a house abroad and a boat to the mega-rich with wealth of many millions who owns a private jet or two, a swanky yacht and many homes. And quite apart from the wealth gap, there’s the demographic change. As Marc Cohen of Ledbury Resarch points out, “in Western markets about 50% of high net worth individuals are over 65, but this number is closer to 25% in developing nations.” The biggest demographic change has been in the age at which wealth is acquired. There is now a whole generation of people who are rich, or at least very well-off, and who are still young. They, therefore, want different things. They want parties for instance – the growth in the number of event organisers, of people providing stupendously glamorous anniversary, wedding and birthday celebrations has been extraordinary and the extravagance with which they are orchestrated would make the old landed rich cringe. They want experiences and adventures and they want them brilliantly orchestrated. They’re prepared to pay but they need impeccable organisation. I recently spoke to a man who had clearly made millions in oil and property and he not only owned homes around the world but he recounted with enormous glee the 72 hours he had spent in Iceland on his way his to New York. He’d stopped over and had asked his travel agent to make sure that in 72 hours he did everything that mattered – private planes, helicopters, horses and guides were all laid on. He surfed (yes, surfed – he wanted to be the only man he knew who could say he’d surfed in Iceland), horses were waiting at a given point so he and his friends could ride across an Icelandic desert, spas were booked, masseurs, top restaurants – he came away thrilled. What this cost is scarcely imaginable but for the uber-travel agent who organised it, it is clear the rewards were huge but then, so were the expectations.
So this teaches us that competing for the handbags, the cigars, the cars, the kitchens and the houses are experiences, where the demands are way beyond what even the richest mogul of thirty years ago would have contemplated. When it comes to products what we see is several different trends. Firstly, there is a flight to quality. Those with the cash are still spending, but they’re thinking harder and deeper before they do. They need to be convinced that there is real value and won’t spray their cash around simply because it seems fashionable. They want to know the provenance and like to tap into the story. Everywhere the story matters. Whether it is something as cheeky and fun as Noko, the Swedish jeans that are made in North Korea and sold in a Copenhagen store where the extraordinary provenance matters more than the product, or as sublime as a Hermes Birkin, as quirky as Dunhill’s narrative-rich cuff-links, each with an interesting history behind it, it’s the story that gives the products depth and meaning.
But whether you’re trying to sell to the Bric countries or to the more saturated markets of the West it is clear that customers are being seriously wooed by almost all the big brands so anybody hoping to compete has to keep up. At Armani seductive dinners and lunches are organised for the charmed circle of favoured customers at the fashion shows. At Louis Vuitton special customers are invited to exclusive events such as private views of important exhibitions with erudite specialists as guides (culture you will have gathered is big and awfully flattering to the invitees). Soirees and exclusive invitations are dangled before important customers so some lateral thinking is needed. Aline Conus, for instance, who runs an innovative luxury website out of Shanghai geared to the wealthy Chinese is adamant that if you want to sell to the Chinese you need an online presence, you need to communicate in Mandarin and you have to be prepared to be prepared to pander to their different ways. She organises exclusive (events have to be intimate to make them feel special) wine-tastings to sell her wines but makes it more intriguing but inviting along, say, a watch expert who elaborates on the intricacies of limited edition watches. Everywhere it is seen important to bind the customer into the story of the brand. An online presence is key. Louis Vuitton’s enterprising launch of Nowness, an online interactive site, that doesn’t sell but that emits an air of creativity, of, if you like, “Nowness”, of understanding the importance of modern methods of communication, is a perfect example of a brand thinking of innovative ways to engage with this new customer. “Nowness,’” says the website, “is more than just a moment, it is a thought you carry with you.”
Design, art and culture are big new tools to interest the new affluent customer and are making the emphasis on heritage, which many of the big brands still trade on, seem almost fuddy-duddy. Architects and designers are the news stars and it is already clear that they can pull in new customers. Look, for instance, at Dom Perignon, a venerable and traditional brand, which has forged a relationship with the much-acclaimed Australian designer, Marc Newson. Dom Perignon perceived that if a brand has real quality, as it is universally agreed Dom Perignon most indubitably has, then people who appreciate fine design are likely to love it too. By asking Marc Newson to come up with some fun, innovative but – and this is key – practical (nobody any more wants things that have no purpose) Dom Perignon-related products it has immediately allied itself with a world that is cool and modern. Sheikh Majhed Al-Sabah, the creative spirit behind the Villa Moda complexes in Kuwait, Dubai and Damascus, has used design to great effect, injecting excitement, glamour and intense international interest round his shopping complexes and pulling in the affluent Middle-Eastern customer as well as the tourists.
James Wallman of The Future Laboratory, says that they have perceived several interesting new developments which all luxury goods companies would do well to note. Firstly that affluent men are beginning to shop much more like their wives – they no longer buy merely what they need, but they now are knowledgeable about the finer nuances of branding, and take some pride in displaying their shopping savvy skills.They no longer come looking for just a pair of trousers or a piece of furniture, they come with a name, a designer, a brand in mind.
Bricks and mortar stores perhaps face the biggest challenge of all. They need to think of innovative ways of giving their customers a reason to visit and though the “store as theatre” notion is nothing new (Gordon Selfridge, after all, pioneered it many moons ago) modern theatre needs to be different. Pop-up stores are one way for brands to generate interest and – more importantly – to test new ideas. Gucci has, for instance, launched its mobile shoe store and the message is clear – catch it when and if you can for if you don’t it’ll be gone. Making products time-limited or issuing them in limited editions is one way of making them seem more special and this is above all what the new affluent customer is looking for. Ethics matter. Speak to the young and most of them are fiercely concerned about where, what, why and how.
What is clear though is that the affluent customer, who now comes in a myriad different shapes and forms, needs to be acknowledged and addressed as an individual. This sounds simple and obvious but it is extraordinary how many brands fail to do it in a really meaningful way. For the big brands isn’t easy. It means a multiplicity of staff, of languages, of investment in time and training. A recent story of some hugely affluent Chinese tourists, all with fat wallets longing to buy trophy pieces to take back home, being treated in a grand Bond Street emporium with a chilly lack of understanding was a big reminder of what is at stake. All left, angry and upset at the lack of help, at what they perceived as superciliousness and literally thousands of pounds of sales were lost. In China she/he doesn’t have the identical aspirations as his or her Indian, Brazilian, Russian or Western counterpart. It is no longer enough just to dangle pretty objects before their eyes. Each expects to be addressed – wooed if you like – in a way that acknowledges his/her specific needs and cultural situation. So the challenge is there – but so are the wallets – and the rewards, if their needs are properly addressed, are huge.
LONDON — Not long ago, the British luxury accessories brand Mulberry treated some of its most
committed bloggers to Champagne and goodie bags during a trip to Bicester Village, the cluster
of upscale designer outlets outside London.
This month, in the run-up to Christmas, Britainʼs Topshop will unveil an online card game, in
which everyone who plays will be a winner, snapping up prizes ranging from 10 percent
discounts to a yearʼs supply of Topshop shoes.
This past summer, Cartier fans were able to download 12 free, original music tracks as part of a
MySpace promotion for the ﬁne jewelerʼs ﬁrst annual Love Day, June 19, when a portion of all
proceeds from Cartierʼs Love collection were donated to charities.
These brands are part of a growing group: Europeʼs fashion and luxury goods companies that
are wooing bloggers and inﬁltrating social networking sites to entice a new breed of customer,
better leverage their ad budgets and ultimately sell more products.
Long considered laggards when it comes to online courtship — especially compared with
counterparts in the mobile phone, automobile, and music sectors — fashion and luxury houses
are waking up to the beneﬁts of low-cost, high-impact marketing in the viral buzz of social
networks. “Online marketing is the most powerful way we can reach our younger customer,” said
Sheena Sauvaire, Topshopʼs head of marketing. “To be perfectly honest, we have to be using this
Bloggers who post about Mulberry bags at Web destinations such as The Purse Forum, a site
boasting more than 100,000 members, are being closely watched by the premium accessories
player, for instance. “If thereʼs any chatter regarding the pricing or country of origin of a new bag,
weʼll send the blogger an explanation — like how much the raw materials cost,” said Nick
Roberts, retail director at Mulberry.
The companyʼs ads launched this month on the upscale social networking site ASmallWorld.com,
hawking the handbag brandʼs new U.S. Web site, mark Mulberryʼs “ﬁrst foray into the social
networking world,” Roberts noted. “These people can be more powerful than paid-for ads, and
we need to harness that power. You are in touch with the end user.”
Mulberryʼs online initiatives cost about one-third the price of a glossy magazine ad, are “more
cost-effective and far more measurable,” he maintained without specifying further.
Efforts like these could be well timed. “People have always talked to their friends and family
about what they buy; now they are beginning to trust people they have never met,” Tom Smith,
head of consumer futures for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Universal McCann, said. “The
fundamental shift we are seeing is where people are beginning to look ﬁrst for endorsement.”
According to “When Did We Start Trusting Strangers?” a report by Universal McCann issued in
September, Internet users will increasingly turn to one another — rather than the press or
celebrity endorsements — for shopping advice. The global agency found more than 45 percent of
the 17,000 Internet users in the 29 countries it contacted had provided an opinion online about
new clothes or footwear, while about one-third of the surfers searched for such comments by
wired consumers about products they had bought or used.
Less a quick ﬁx in tough times than a long-term effort to build a community of customers, for
some, marketing via social networks means relying on a medium that is largely beyond a
marketerʼs control. “The whole area is a mineﬁeld,” observed Guy Salter, deputy chairman at
Walpole, which staged a Luxury eBusiness Forum in London last month. Nonetheless, Roberts
said, “You can see immediately if itʼs working or not.”
The lure of cyber-advice is particularly strong in some emerging markets.
“The Chinese consumer is starving for luxury goods, but a lot of [this population] is in secondand third-tier cities” where they wonʼt necessarily see print ads or be around brand-name stores,”
said the Shanghai-based Aline Conus, founder of Yangjiu.com, an Internet trading company. “My
advice to companies? Get a blog,” she told the Walpole eBusiness forum.
Topshop well knows the power of bloggers. An unofﬁcial Topshop page on MySpace has been
sparking about 20 percent of the visitors to topshop.com, according to Sauvaire. The company
provides Topshopʼs blogger there with details of company events and news. Itʼs one of the
brandʼs newest attempts to stir interest via social networking sites, a tactic the retailer ﬁrst tried
three years ago.
Topshopʼs idea has been to take “baby steps” in order to gain credibility in the long term. “These
consumers are very brand cynical — unless you are adding value, theyʼre not interested,” Sauvaire said of 16- to 18-year-old shoppers.
Three years ago, the digital budget at Cartier was zero, according to Corinne Delattre,
international communications director. Today, the jewelry and accessories brand believes a
presence on social networking sites is a necessity. “We wanted to reach a new kind of customer,
and show them another angle of Cartier,” Delattre said, pointing out that just 8,000 people were
able to join the cyber community, even though the site received 400,000 hits. “The challenge for
a luxury brand on the Web,” she added, “is remaining exclusive even when youʼre using a