How not to please Chinese customers

By Li Jingjing Source:Global Times Published: 2016-1-22 5:03:02

As Chinese continue to develop into a major force for consumerism, more brands have realized the need to please customers in the Chinese market and design products especially for them.

For example, in 2015, the Year of the Sheep in the Chinese Zodiac, some brands designed jewelry or T-shirts featuring little cute sheep. Shawn the Sheep was a special hit when it came to stuffed dolls.

As we enter 2016, Chinese New Year is right around the corner, which means even more brands are joining in on this trend. Many big name brands are making numerous products with bright colors, such as scarlet and golden, which Chinese tend to wear over this cheerful holiday.

However, it seems that something has gone terribly wrong with most products made for the Chinese market. Especially since 2016 is the Year of the Monkey and many brands have totally screwed up related products.

Just don't do it

Nike Air Force 1 shoes Photo: IC

Let's start with Nike, one of my favorite brands. I'm really a fan, most of my sportswear comes from Nike. However, I have to say I'm going to pass on this year's limited edition of Nike shoes.

The shoes are a pair of white Nike Air Force 1 shoes with the Nike name in giant Chinese characters towards the heel and bright pink and green lotuses on the shoe's tongue. As if that wasn't garish enough, a giant fat baby's head from traditional Chinese paintings is on the insole. Which means I have to step on a poor baby's head every time I put on my shoes.

Although these elements do indeed originate from Chinese culture, they look like Nike hired some farmer as a designer. The most common complaint among netizens is that the shoes follow a "village style."

Additionally, in an attempt to celebrate the Chinese New Year, Nike has provided two Chinese characters that customers can choose from to add on the back of their Nike Air Force 1 shoes. The first character is fu, which means fortune, another is fa, which means wealth. The fu character can even be put on the back of the shoes upside down, similar to the red signs featuring the same character that many Chinese hang on their front doors during the lunar new year.

Choosing to add the same character on both shoes really isn't a problem. But what if someone chooses both characters, one for each shoe. Did anyone on the Chinese team tell the designers what fa fu means as a phrase? Getting fat.

The shoes will probably be the perfect gift for someone you hate, expressing wishes that the more they walk the fatter they will get.

Another example where Nike dropped the ball has to do with the printed initials on the company's Skate Boarding sneakers. They put a giant S and B both on the tongue and the back of the sneakers.

This move has many Chinese netizens poking fun at Nike: "It seems you are giving up on the Chinese market."

In China, SB means "stupid c*nt."

Estée Lauder - all flash no substance

Estée Lauder's Year of the Monkey compact Photo:

Estée Lauder's compact for the Chinese market is an extremely shiny round gold box, but the real problem is the pattern on the lid: a monkey that looks like it was carved from stone while its eyes are decorated with diamond-like stones.

This entire shiny design just makes me feel bad, not just because it looks terrible, but also because it made me realize that's how Westerners must think of most Chinese people's ideas of beauty - like we are some rich country bumpkins who struck it rich overnight and want to decorate ourselves with gold and jewels to show off our wealth.

Louis Vuitton's undead nightmare

Louis Vuitton's Year of the Monkey bracelet Photo:

Maybe you've seen those little monkey heads hanging off of necklaces or bracelets that are being sold at stores featuring Louis Vuitton products. Those really creep me out. I have no idea what the designer was thinking when he or she designed this monkey. The two diamonds that sit in the two giant holes it has for eyes makes it look like a zombie monkey. 

Designer see, designer do

It seems everyone is just trying to do something with monkey designs, and plenty of them are not that attractive. Carrera y Carrera released a ring decorated with a monkey's head and a bunch of gemstones. Once again, it's really creepy when the gems are the monkeys' eyes. It just keeps staring at you in a really scary way!

Suntory released a limited edition whiskey bottle, where the bottle is a white monkey with a red face. The design makes it look cheap, like a toy for kids that you'd buy for a dollar.

Meanwhile some clothing brands have just been slapping the monkey emoji on their clothing. It's like they were too lazy to even design their own monkey.

Newspaper headline: No monkey business

Posted in: Fashion

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