Those who have traveled China have one time or another passed the Biem.L.Fdlkk store at a train station or airport and pondered ‘what is up with this brand?’. Today, you have found the answer you’ve been looking for. Biem.L.Fdlkk is a Chinese golf apparel brand. The crazy English name is from the phonetic transliteration of the Chinese brand name “比音勒芬” (bi yin le fen in pinyin).
The China-based golf apparel company was founded in Guangzhou in 2003. Because imported brands usually stood for high-class and high-quality in China at that time, some local retailers would use meaningless English brand names to create a foreign-sounding cachet. In 2014, the New York Times asked store staff about the meaning of the English name, one employee said it’s German, while employees at another shop said it’s the name of a French designer. While the employees are undecided about he etymology of the brand name, the brand is doing decidedly well among Gen X men.
In 2004, Xie Bingzheng, the founder of Biem.L.Fdlkk, opened his first counter in Nanjing’s high-end mall, the Chinese golf apparel brand currently has nearly 900 stores across the country. Its revenue reached 1.83 billion yuan as of 2019. At 1,680 yuan ($256), a polo shirt from Biem.L.Fdlkk is comparable to Armani and Hugo Boss.
What makes this local golf brand name able to compete with international consumer brands in the Chinese high-end market?
Source: Biem.L.Fdlkk official website; the brand ambassador, Yang Shuo, a famous actor in China
Biem.L.Fdlkk is geared towards those who like golf culture, whether they golf or not
Biem.L.Fdlkk is positioned in a niche market that combines golf and fashionable leisure apparel. The brand targets Chinese high-end consumers, who enjoy golf culture and tend to dress in smart casual. The company’s products include tops, bottoms, jackets, and accessories for both men and women, which are divided into golf series, lifestyle series and fashion series. The Chinese golf apparel brand mainly focuses on the domestic market.
How the brand’s consumers are Chinese Gen X
According to CBNDATA, most of Biem.L.Fdlkk’s customers are business people over 40 years old, and it usually takes them only 10-20 minutes to make a quick purchase and are not as concerned with price.
High-end consumers in China have the most potential spending power. Compared to Gen Z and millennials, the middle-class Gen X in China, have a relatively high and stable income, high brand loyalty, and thus high repurchase rates, and also they are less price-sensitive.
Biem.L.Fdlkk adapts to Chinese body shape
Although Biem.L.Fdlkk is called a golf brand, its brand positions on the business, fashion, and lifestyle image, rather than emphasizing professional sports equipment. It helps Biem.L.Fdlkk to avoid directly competing with sports brands, while finding a niche among men’s fashion. Compared to foreign high-end men’s brands, like Lacoste and Ralph Lauren, whose designs may not suitable for Chinese body shape, Biem.L.Fdlkk’s clothing design has more emphasis on the body shape of Chinese high-end consumers, who are not too tall and often have a slight beer belly.
Biem.L.Fdlkk’s promotion and distribution channels are strategically behind the times
Source: Dianping; a Biem.L.Fdlkk store in Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport
While China is living in the digital era and brands increasingly compete on Chinese social media platforms, Biem.L.Fdlkk takes the ‘old fashion’ approach to marketing. As the target consumers are middle aged men, Biem.L.Fdlkk typically has an emphasis on product placement in TV programs, charity sponsorships, and sports events.
On the distribution channels, Biem.L.Fdlkk’s offline stores are generally located in high-end malls, airports, high-speed railway stations, and golf clubs. Particularly in transportation hubs, VIP lounges, for example, are the important marketing channels and marketing windows. Those places have high traffic volumes of middle aged wealthy travelers. On a working day, a Biem.L.Fdlkk store in Hongqiao Railway Station had 4,670 customers within 8 hours.
The new direction in Biem.L.Fdlkk: membership management and a vacation apparel brand
However, in 2020, under the impacts of COVID-19, all transportation hubs and shopping malls were closed. As most stores are placed in transportation hubs, Biem.L.Fdlkk’s first-quarter revenues dropped 9.36% compared to last year.
To counteract the loss, Biem.L.Fdlkk started an online VIP membership to maintain offline loyal Chinese high-end customers, through online stores, VIP online communities, and WeChat mini-programs. According to Biem.L.Fdlkk, In February 2020, its online store sales exceeded 30 million yuan in an 8-day WeChat membership store campaign, and the conversion rate for the VIP members was as high as 40%.
Source: Biem.L.Fdlkk official website; the Carnaval De Venise brand ambassador, Tian Liang and his wife, a celebrity couple in China
In addition, in order to make up for the limited market size in the high-end business casual market, Biem.L.Fdlkk introduced Carnaval De Venise to meet the demands of Chinese high-end consumer families. Carnaval De Venise is an endeavor into the blue ocean market of vacation and fashion apparel, and focuses on parents and children, couples and families. Relying on existing channels and customers of Biem.L.Fdlkk, Carnaval De Venise is expected to bring more profit to the whole company in the future.