One of Shanghai’s luxury fairs with the most god-awful names is getting a makeover. And a name change. From now on, the Millionaire Fair will be known quite simply as — The Fair.
The name change, however, still doesn’t mean we’re going to be able to afford anything at the fair. The over-the-top luxury sports cars are still going to be there. The mobile phones on display will still continue to be dripping with diamonds. And wonderful members-only clubs such as the, er, Asian Elite Club, will still continue to be exhibiting. This year though, the fair is going to take on the mantle of corporate social responsibility by organising charity events for such good causes as the Special Olympics and the Shanghai Charity Foundation because right now they’re all about “conveying the message that with abundant wealth comes social responsibility”. David Zhong, CEO of VNU Exhibitions Asia, expands on the fair’s name change in their press release:
It goes without saying that changing our brand name after 3 years of building on strong brand awareness and preference has not been an easy decision. Millionaire Fair and Millionaire Magazine are well know throughout China, and of course we also benefit from the strong international network of Millionaire Fairs in major cities such as Moscow (Russia), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Munich (Germany) and Kortrijk (Belgium). China is a highly potential, but different market however. Ever since we have introduced the names Millionaire Fair and Millionaire Magazine in China, we have received frequent feedback from the market that our name would be too strongly connected with money rather than an elegant lifestyle. The cultural background causes the Chinese wealthy to be more low profile and less extravagant than for example the Russians, where the name “Millionaire Fair” in fact work very well. In China, the current name makes some people decide not to visit our fair, whereas they could potentially be very interesting clients for our participants and sponsors.
Seriously, we don’t know what the above press release seeks to communicate apart from the fact that the Millionaire Fair did not bother to hire an English copy-editor nor a proper PR agency to help them distill their key talking points.
In his interview with the Oriental Morning Post 《东方早报》 though, CEO David Zhong was a lot more to the point (and we kinda like it that way). In it he said:
“I am very dissatisfied with the last two years of the Millionaire Fair. I think there’s no need to arrange another luxury goods exhibition, it’s also quite meaningless” [h/t to Sky Canaves of the WSJ]
The Oriental Morning Post‘s interview with Sheng Lei, general manager of Top Marques, another luxury fair, also indicates that Shanghai’s luxury fair market may not be what it’s all hyped up to be, or that people in Shanghai are finally growing out of their nouveaux richesse, depending on how you look at it:
盛磊：像前三届那样大规模的顶级私人物品展今年不会再办了。我们把奢侈品展分成若干个小型、专业的奢侈品展，平均每隔两个月办一个。今年，我们在深圳、厦门、北京都将举办大型的Top Marques分展，只有上海的Top Marques被化整为零了。
OMP: Will Top Marques still be held in October this year?
Sheng Lei: We won’t be holding a top-of-the-line fair of personal luxury items on such a grand scale like we’ve done in the last three years anymore. We have cut that up into numerous smaller luxury mini fairs that are held about once every two months on the average. This year, we’ve had larger fairs in Shenzhen, Xiamen and Beijing. Only the Shanghai event has been cancelled.
OMP: Has the luxury fair market in Shanghai lost its shine?
Sheng Lei: Shanghai’s luxury fair market has not reached maturity point yet. It also has not reached its point of full potential yet. The Shanghainese are more inclined towards European-style refinement, and having grown more mature now, they’re no longer interested in the all-in-one mega luxury fairs anymore. It’s much more effective to segment the fair into various product categories and then organising smaller shows to cater to people who are interested in them.