This is home of China
Updated: 2011-10-28 09:29
By Wang Chao (China Daily)
Although the brand commands high prices in China, Wang admits it still has a long way to go to challenge well-established European brands. A coffee cup made by a leading European brand can sell for 2,000 yuan to 3,000 yuan, but the best product with the same quality from RL fetches only 800 yuan.
Wang says lack of recognition is the biggest problem for most Jingdezhen porcelain products. "Although Jingdezhen is a well-known place in the world, there is no famous stand-alone brand in this place, whereas many European brands have been well accepted by the public for over 300 years."
"As a result, the prices of RL in the overseas markets are sometimes even lower than those in the domestic market. For the same product, we can charge five times higher in China than in Europe," Wang says.
Wu Jiangzhong, manager of a porcelain studio in Jingdezhen, says some companies are looking to attract the growing clientele of rich persons in China with bigger and niche products.
Wu's products are much bigger than others, with a ceramic vat having a diameter of more than 1 meter. They are also more expensive as well - a carved and glazed vat with a diameter of 1.2 m is priced at 300,000 yuan.
Wu says his customers are either millionaires with big houses to decorate, or overseas organizations such as museums, hotels and galleries. Orders from overseas have been growing steadily especially from the United Kingdom and Germany, he says. "Europe's high-end market is very appealing, as they have the ceramic tradition and appreciate the value of Chinese ceramic art."
Zhou Jianer, president of Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute, the only university focusing on ceramic sciences in China, says Jingdezhen is still suffering from the "post-planned-economy".
"Guided by the planned economy for decades to produce porcelain, companies don't have the market pressure to study consumer needs," he says. "With most of the State-owned companies going under and the mantle taken over by smaller players, there is still no urgency to be on top of the market trends."
Zhou himself is a ceramic scientist with expertise in new ceramic materials for making porcelain. He says many of his new technologies have been adopted outside of Jingdezhen, because the local people are too proud to change.
Change is inevitable and companies should always be aware of what their target customers' preferences are, Zhou says.
"For over 1,000 years, Jingdezhen was dedicated to making porcelain for royalty, but the current high-end market is more broader and varied in taste. The emerging middle class is a new segment of customers that companies should target," he says.
"Besides, if Jingdezhen porcelain doesn't want to be confined within the small artist group, they have to dedicate more efforts on technology, rather than just pure art."
Jungle Beauties Giraffe collection. [Photo by Wang Chao / China Daily]
Franz porcelain ware, inspired by Van Gogn's painting Sunflowers. [Photo by Wang Chao / China Daily]