How is the French luxury label dealing with this trend, even as it attracts more clientele from second- and third-tier cities?"We do try very hard to do everything without any sense of compromise. And I think Chinese customers really appreciate that, and they see it. That I would say is very much the key to it," says Zanardi-Landi, a Briton who has been with Louis Vuitton in China since 2003, and who is married to a native of Sichuan and is the father of an 8-year-old boy.
"The products we create are completely unique in the way we do them. There's a really, really strong investment that we put in after-sales. I mean, the after-sales structure that we built in China is unparalleled to anybody else's."Next month, as part of the label's 20th anniversary celebration in China, LV will unveil an expanded store at Plaza 66, Shanghai's premier luxury shopping mall.

Zanardi-Landi declined to reveal details of the store ahead of its reopening, except to say: "It's really one of the most extraordinary stores we've built anywhere in the world. We think it will bring a level of elegance, sophistication and refinement that is new, frankly, to the world of luxury."Strategies like this are among the ways the French fashion house is staying ahead of competition."I don't think LV ever stands still – especially in China," says Teo, who is based in Hong Kong."The new [Plaza 66] store is also reported to have craftsmen in-store explaining their handwork. This will mark a shift in marketing strategy from the brand, in response to the consumers' changing needs."When the store opens its doors on July 18, there's a good chance Fang Wenting will be among its first shoppers."LV was the first luxury brand I ever encountered, so it's also the brand that has made the strongest impression," she says.

The label's focus in China right now is the quality of its customer service rather than the quantity of its stores."We would love to be able to have pricing in China that's the same as other markets in the world, but unfortunately we're unable to do that today."In each city that we have a Louis Vuitton Outlet, what we try to do is to have a very close relationship with our customers," he adds. "It's clear that if you're at home and you walk into the store where everybody knows you and greets you by name that's a very personal experience and can't be matched anywhere else." This is partly to encourage Chinese customers to do their shopping at home – even if prices here are higher."There are reasonably high import duties and very high VAT in China, which of course has an impact on the price," Zanardi-Landi says.