Photo: Ray Ally
The recent Gap logo redesign has caused a blitzkrieg on the blogs in the US. In China the news has been greeted less reactionary, as the brand doesn’t have a history on the mainland, although most young people are aware of the brand.
However, Gap is causing some commotion in China as the brand is due to open its first stores later this year. The initial plan is for two in Shanghai and two in Beijing, with more to follow. In Wangfujing Street in Beijing, the hoardings have been up some time, with the old logo of course. Consumers here don’t care too much about the logo, but they do care about the brand and are excited to be able to buy the clothing.
The brand has over 1200 stores in the US, but has been suffering for many years, as it has been seen as out of touch with what consumers want. It became dull and middle of the road and lost its fashionable edge. The brand started in 1969 in San Francisco, mainly selling denim and took it name from the “generation gap” which it was trying to appeal too.
In recent years the brand has financially turned itself around, offering new products and designs which take inspiration from its denim roots. So introducing a new logo was not in itself a bad strategy, however its execution and launch is a textbook example of what brands should never do. The Gap now joins a list of other high profile companies like BT, BP and the London Olympic, which have all suffered public outcry regarding their redesigned logos.
However, what I find more interesting is not whether the logo is good or bad, but the use of the Internet and particularly Facebook to generate consumer response. Like many people I am not sure whether this whole thing has been a social marketing media stunt, but that reminds to be seen.
More importantly, with over 380 million users, China has the largest Internet population in the world. Though Facebook is blocked in China, they are many more Chinese social media sites, like QQ and Sina, which have millions of users who are the most active bloggers in the world. So it’s important that the Gap gets it right in China, as according to a recent McKinsey Quarterly survey:
The Chinese are obsessed with the Internet. People in the 60 largest cities in China spend around 70 percent of their leisure time on the Internet, according to a survey we conducted in 2009. In smaller towns, the corresponding number is 50 percent.
Opening new stores will be a test for the Gap, though if they get the product right they can’t lose. But it’s the online store, where the real opportunity and money is to be made. Especially as buying cheap clothing online from sites like Taobao is already very popular among China’s fashionable urban youth.
So lets hope that Gap get their clothing strategy right and know who they are targeting, so they don’t fall through the fast moving generation gap in China.