Hong Zheng is the founder of Adventi Communication and GREENEXT. Founded in 2004, Adventi Communication has been engaged in communications for luxury fashion brands, helping international labels develop marketing strategies in China. Since 2004 they have worked on 15 International Exhibitions, worked with over 70 international brands in the luxury sector, and led more than 500 PR projects. Well-known clients include Lacoste, Art Basel, Gucci, Lux bags, and in the watch and jewelry industry you worked with Piaget. So, that covers Adventi, but there is a newer business that is taking up more and more of your time and energy and that is Greenext. A consulting company offering solutions for sustainability in fashion in China. This topic of environmentally friendly fashion in China and worldwide has been and will continue to be a hot topic.
Can you give us a company introduction to Adventi Communication?
I founded Adventi Communication in 2004. It is a PR consulting company that hosts exhibition events and offers market solutions to overseas companies looking to participate in the Asian market.
How did the need for a service like Adventi Communication come about?
I had attended the Grande Ecole school of engineering in France and I was really impressed by it so I wanted to create something similar in Shanghai but it never got off the ground but in 2003 my husband got an amazing offer to come back and work in China and I considered going back into academia and got some offers from universities such as Jiaotong and Tongji University. But this was about the time that the luxury brands market was taking off and booming in China and by chance, some of the people I had known from my time in education in France were starting their businesses in China and I was able to help them organize media events and before long the business was attracting more and more customers
Is having a Ph.D. in PR advantage for starting a PR agency?
Well, my Ph.D. was in a totally different field so there are very few people in the PR world with degrees in engineering so maybe I can draw on certain things from my previous experience to help with aspects of my current business. Also, I think that coming from a background where you want to learn all the time can help with running a successful company and our analytical approach to the market and competitors may be something that comes from my research background.
The SARS outbreak vs the coronavirus outbreak – how have these epidemics impacted the PR business sector?
All B2B and B2C business were negatively impacted but it also afforded us the time to reflect on our strategies and to maybe trim away some of the unnecessary aspects of our business.
Why are Chinese companies in general, and fashion brands not pushing for sustainability in fashion in China?
Although there are some businesses, particularly those in Tier 1 and 2 cities that push for sustainability in fashion in China, on the whole, most businesses in China are focused on growth. In this respect, they are slightly behind the West but I think this will change more in the future as environmentally friendly fashion in China becomes cooler and more mainstream.
Is the market the deciding factor for sustainability in fashion in China? – and the reason behind the launch of GREENEXT?
Yes, in particular, the younger consumers are concerned about environmental issues and sustainability. In some cities up to 85% of consumers say sustainability in fashion in China is a concern. So, you will start to see more companies looking to market themselves and compete on this front in China. At Greenext, we want to be the link between the supply chain, the brand, and the consumer. Part of our job will be to educate the consumers about the sustainable process and to work with sustainable fashion brands in China and help make environmentally friendly fashion in China more mainstream.
Are there any sustainable fashion brands in China that are making a name for themselves in terms of being environmentally friendly?
Icicle and LangerChen are 2 sustainable fashion brands in China that are doing just this. They are really adopting some interesting practices and leading the way in terms of environmentally friendly fashion in China
So we have heard about sustainability in fashion in China in terms of clothing but what other industries will be impacted by the need for sustainability?
I think the cosmetics and perfume industry are good candidates for implementing some sustainable features into their businesses.
What social values do brands communicate in China compared to the West and what needs to change?
In terms of the social values which resonate most with young consumers here, the first one would be sustainability in fashion in China and being environmentally friendly. Another value that we see among younger consumers is an embracing of traditional aspects of Chinese culture such as traditional medicine. In terms of what needs to change in order to make environmentally-friendly fashion in China more visible and more commonly purchased by consumers is the representation and amplification of the voices of such eco-brands. Our work with Greenext will be about developing sustainable fashion brands in China.
Do Chinese consumers purchase sustainable fashion brands in China or buy natural products for their own health benefits or for society’s health benefits?
I think both, there is more of a trend towards vegetarianism, organic & healthier foods, and organic cosmetics. Especially in the aftermath of Covid-19, more and more people were considering their impact on the environment. The signs look promising for environmentally friendly fashion in China.
What books have inspired Hong Zheng in her entrepreneurial journey?
A book which I’ve found very interesting has been Sapiens.
What does Hong Zheng read to stay up to date with China?
I like to read positive things which actually give solutions to problems we face, rather than just doom and gloom articles about the problems.
What means of communication should people employ in order to get a good understanding of China?
Look at as broad an array of information channels as possible.
What unexpected business failure and success has Hong Zheng witnessed in China?
I’ve been surprised at the huge success of Starbucks and I was surprised at the failure of brands like Next, Macy’s, M&S, and Topshop.
Thanks very much for taking the time to join us today
Thank you very much, Matthieu and I hope to see you in one of these small trendy cafes around Shanghai and we can continue our conversation. Thank you. Bye