Ivanka Trump aiming high in China

By Li Xuanmin Source:Global Times Published: 2017/4/19 23:58:39

First daughter to start selling merchandise in Shanghai

A worker cleans the windows of the Ivanka Trump Boutique at Trump Tower in New York on January 17. Photo: CFP

Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser to US President Donald Trump, could see her business thrive in China this year, as an increasing number of her trademark applications have been approved by Chinese regulators and her warm approach toward China has brought her a good reputation here, experts said on Wednesday.

"Ivanka Trump's company will officially march into the Chinese mainland market in the second half of 2017," and it will start selling shoes, handbags and jewelry in Shanghai, a businessman with close ties to the brand told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The man, who spoke on condition of anonymity, noted that a myriad of domestic companies are now competing to become Trump's designated Chinese agent for selling and distributing her company's merchandise in China, because they consider the first daughter's brand highly valuable and full of massive potential.

Trump's brand was hit by boycotts and removal from several major retail outlets in the US last year, but exports of her goods, most of which went to China, surged by an estimated 166 percent year-on-year, which has prompted expectations of a bumper year in 2017, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

It is estimated that in the first quarter of 2017, Chinese imports of Ivanka Trump's merchandise will see an increase of an estimated 40 percent, the Associated Press said, citing a report published by trading data provider Panjiva Inc.

"Ivanka Trump has been aiming at gaining a foothold in China. Her company - Ivanka Trump Marks LLC - has applied for numerous new trademarks in China since her father Donald Trump was elected as US President," Hao Junbo, a lawyer at Beijing-based Hao Law Firm, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The most recent approval was on April 6, when Trump's company received approval from Chinese regulators for three new trademarks, giving it the exclusive rights to sell Ivanka-brand jewelry, bags and spa services in China, according to the Associated Press.

The approval also came on the same day when the first daughter and her husband sat next to Chinese President Xi Jinping for a steak dinner at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida during Xi's visit to the US.

So far, Ivanka Trump Marks LLC has 16 registered trademarks in China and more than 30 pending applications, along with at least five that have been granted "preliminary approval," covering a wide range of goods and services such as cosmetics, luggage, clothes and beauty services, the Associated Press noted.

This shows the company's desire for "further expansion in China in the near future," Hao said, adding that it will also make it "easier to file a lawsuit in case of trademark infringement."

Good impression

The first daughter's business in China is likely to flourish in 2017, mainly buoyed by "her amiable attitude toward China" and popularity in Chinese social media platforms, where netizens describe her as baifumei - white, rich and beautiful - and her "combination of beauty, wisdom and talent," said Hao.

Ivanka is seen by the Chinese public as having softened Donald Trump's confrontational approach to China, experts said.

For example, during the meeting at Mar-a-Lago in April, Ivanka's daughter, 5-year-old Arabella, sang a traditional Chinese folk song, Molihua, or Jasmine Flowers, for Chinese President Xi. The video has received more than 60,000 likes on the Global Times' weibo account and has "won the hearts of some Chinese citizens" according to one comment.

If the company opens a shop in Shanghai, some young consumers such as a Shanghai-based 28-year-old white-collar worker surnamed Wang would be interested in purchasing Ivanka Trump merchandise.

"She is the kind of women that me as well as my friends want to be - good-looking, elegant, yet independent and having a good career," Wang told the Global Times on Wednesday. She said that Ivanka's style and the brand's relatively cheap prices also appeal to her.

But experts also warned that the company still needs to learn from its past failures, following the closure of stores  in Beijing, which the company reportedly attributed to the lack of "a proven track record of traffic." 

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