PeiPei Huang started her career ad Design Magazine Journalist. After working with the famous artist Chen Yifei, she started her media career from the domestic cutting-edge design magazine “Youth Vision”, she also worked for the fashion magazine group, like Channel [V], “Oriental Entrepreneur” and other magazines.
She is today CEO of 3rd Floor Public Relations PR Agency and Founder of Paper, an artistic living space and a community of culture, art and most of all design.
Paper is an exhibition space for design brands and also somehow a show room where people can buy the products, we know you host many Italian brands, can you tell us how you got passionate about design and what is your connection with Italian design in particular?
The design concept of Paper was inspired from the Milan Salone. Every year we went to Salone to talk with Design brands and discover opportunities for Italian Design in China Market. Paper is a community for creatives, not only a workspace but also a network for the design industry. From the very first Paper in Shanghai, we involved different brands to build an immerse experiential showroom and Business lounge.
For example, we helped the band Magis to create their social media and PR content, created A4 talk events for the Shanghai design community, organized dinner, cocktail, and we gathered togethers designers, in order to generate connections with the local design community.
In 2019, we built the Second Paper campus in the French concession of Shanghai on Yongjia Road. This new Paper campus aims to be a social clubhouse and a working space. We joined forces the with the Italian design brand Arper, to create a modern atmosphere with an efficient working space, located in an old colonial building, the contrast between the old and the new it’s beautifully balanced and makes the location very special. This Paper also became the exclusive showroom for Arper to showcase their products.
Paper is supporting a campaign for “clean and fair food”, do you think that “green” and “sustainability” are important values for the Chinese consumers even in design?
Absolutely yes. In the opening campaign of Paper Yongjia, we organized an event series called “Paper Sustainable Space Station”. This event involved Paper’s tenants and mentors of the design community. Around 20 design brands were involved in the campaign, most of them are international brands developed in China. Chinese consumer care about sustainable values, this is going to be a long term lifestyle custom for this generation, but definitely happening.
Do you think that the “Made in Italy” brand is a powerful tool in the hands of Italian designers and furniture companies? Is this actually affecting the choice of the buyers?
“Made in Italy” is an iconic brand in Chinese consumer perception. Italy has so many talents and so many design brands that are unique in the world. But made in Italy also means expensive, luxury, long time product processing (production 7-8weeks, shipment 3-4 weeks at least). These factors are also affecting the choice of the buyer. If the brands made in Italy can also provide solutions to solve these issues, save the cost and be efficient, it will absolutely be the Chinese consumers’ first choice.
In your experience, what are the Chinese customers expecting from an Italian design brand?
I think that would be quality, stylish, well designed.
Paper is a physical space, I imagine you suffered a bit the pandemic lockdown, do you think the world after pandemic will be more related to the online events? Like the use VR, webinar and online B2B?
Online events are important, VR, webinar and online B2B are necessary tools, but as you can see from the experience of the China market, people still need physical experience, in fact the first industry that went back to life was F&B. From what we can see, the more consumers have been isolated, the more they are keen to real experiences and authentic products.
We know that e-commerce and online shopping is growing in China, especially due to Covid19 pandemic. Do you think the Design will follow as well? How can a product that is meant to occupy a physical space adapt to this trend?
Yes and no. We have a tenant who during the Covid19 lockdown made a design oriented WeChat shopping group. 500+ members joined it from all creative industry, they make 200kRMB sales just in this group chat. So it worked. But as soon as life went back to normal, people started looking for a more experience oriented solution. I think that design product need to have a showroom, make the consumer experience it. On the other hand it should be ready with a WeChat based look book with lifestyle product pictures, a nice display case study. And maybe they can choose some low price accessories or iconic products to be sold online, but I wouldn’t say the full line. These are the necessary steps.
Let’s talk about promotion, is it important for a design brand to have its own WeChat Official Account?
Yes. The design brand WeChat Official account is a window to their consumer, their distributor and to medias. It’s a tool that allows to keep relationship with the consumer to attract them to make loyal purchases, it’s a tool to make the distributors understand the brand and to be trained with more stories to tell, a tool to have potential e-commerce and a way to target audience. We help all our customers to open an Official WeChat account and keep the content updated.
We know that in China KOLs are very effective in growing the brand popularity, do you think KOLs are more effective than design magazines? If a brand has a low budget which of these two strategies would you suggest?
The KOLs in the design industry, in my understanding, are mostly designers. Consumers get to know the product through their case studies. Design magazines are still the key player in the design industry. At the same time, design magazine also have social media account and work with many KOLs. So I think if a brand has a low budget could have more editorial PR and selected design magazine.
If you could give 3 good suggestions to an Italian design company in order to increase their performances in China, what would it be?
1. Set up local logistic solutions such as warehouse in free-trade zones
2. Build the brand awareness through social media and PR
3. Set up a network with local international designer (local – China based)