Prada takes over Shanghai wet market to tap Gen Z consumers – although it’s only offering wrapping paper

·3-min read

A marketing campaign by Prada has drawn rave reviews among Gen Z consumers in Shanghai as fashion-loving youngsters rushed to get a taste of the Italian brand’s design savvy in their local wet market.

At the Wuzhong wet market on Wulumuqi Road M on Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of consumers – most of whom were in their 20s and 30s – rummaged their way through vegetable, meat and flower stalls to buy produce wrapped up in the luxury brand’s purple and yellow wrapping paper, emblazoned with the slogan “Feels like Prada”.

At least 200 people crowded the two-floor market where about 30 stores were operating. While the Italian brand’s iconic handbags and luxury goods were not on sale – consumers nevertheless lapped up the chance to have their choy sum and pork wrapped up in the branded paper.

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Some of those present did not even buy produce – they were happy taking photos of the event – albeit with complaints from some stall owners.

A merchant at Wuzhong wet market in Shanghai sells chicken eggs packaged with Prada wrapping paper. Photo: SCMP/ Daniel Ren
A merchant at Wuzhong wet market in Shanghai sells chicken eggs packaged with Prada wrapping paper. Photo: SCMP/ Daniel Ren

“Miss, please do not hold the eggplants in your hands because others may want to buy them,” one vegetable merchant shouted at one keen female event attendee. “Our products are for sale here. They are not exhibits.”

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The campaign, under which Prada provided wrapping paper and shopping bags to the Wuzhong merchants free of charge, is aimed at bolstering brand awareness. It started September 27 and ends October 10.

All items sold to shoppers were packaged in Prada paper at no extra cost. About 2,000 shopping bags with three different patterns are expected to be handed out to customers on each day of the event.

Ge Junxian, an official with a wet market chain operator owned by Xuhui district government, said foot traffic at the Wuzhong outlet had bounced since the event opened, with young consumers notably on the increase.

“The event is not aimed at simply bolstering sales,” he said. “It is a cross-market campaign to test consumer interest in crossover products and to promote both the luxury brand and the wet market itself.”

The campaign has gone viral on Chinese social media and it is expected to draw thousands of Shanghai shoppers during the October 1 to October 7 National Day holiday, according to Ge.

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Zuo Xiaoyan, a merchant selling chicken eggs at the Wuzhong market, said although sales had risen during the Prada campaign “many visitors have come just to look at the papers and bags”.

The campaign followed simultaneous shows in Milan and Shanghai by Prada to reveal the brand’s spring 2022 women’s wear collection on September 24.

“Luxury brands are no longer beyond the reach of wealthy Chinese Gen Z consumers,” said Eric Han, a senior manager with Shanghai-based business advisory firm Suolei. “Indeed, it is important to make full use of marketing resources to give consumers a sense that luxury products can be part of their daily life.”

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