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MONTAGUT: The Next Pierre Cardin?

MONTAGUT, a French fashion brand, seized an excellent opportunity and entered into China market together with Pierre Cardin when China reform and opening up policy started in 1970s. At that time, Chinese even didn’t understand what fashion was, neither did they have much possibility to access various styles and designs. Filled with local products, China clothing industry was waiting for more foreign competitors. Pierre Gros, the president of Montagut, saw the huge market potentiality and then decided the entrance to China market. In 1984, Montagut started to enter into mainland China through four major cities(Beijing, Shanghai, etc.) with menswear and its polo shirts hit instant success among the rich businessmen for its excellent quality.

Once in the eyes of many Chinese people, the polo shirts were associated with wealth and romance as its Chinese brand name means “charming dream” and were sold as the only high-class items. So it occupied the upper market after its entrance and gained a large number of loyal customers. According to the statistics in 2003, Montagut’s sales achieved 1.3 billion RMB and ranked first in China market. However, after two decades, thus French flower is now blooming in the second and third tier cities instead of the first-tier cities as they did at the beginning. It mainly because China market changed a lot after its entrance into WTO, and more top brands like LV, Armani, and Versace successfully occupied the upper market, leaving less room for Montagut. So it had no choice but to change its target customer to the middle class. Chinese official figures indicated that Montagut’s polo shirts remained one of the top ten best sold in mainland market.

Now Montagut has had more than 3,000 boutiques, franchises and counters across China including over 17 flagships opened in 18 cities. Knowing that China is full of many market segments instead of one, decision-makers clearly understand that they should make market strategy according to different background, economic status, and aesthetic ideas. To enlarge its market share, Montagut introduced more product-lines such as Latitude (men dress) and LA PARISIENNE(women dress) to absorb more potential customers. However, squeezed by local brands such as Youngor and Septwolves and top brands, it is essential for Montagut to take advantage of product differentiation and outstand in the market, or it may be another Pierre Cardin that was sold to two Chinese companies.