The trials and travails facing Western purveyors of luxury goods as they seek to break into the Chinese market have been well documented in the press (see Dolce & Gabbana and Victoria's Secret for two examples of what can happen when retailers hoping to gain entree to the world's largest consumer market cross the Communist Party).
And in the demonstration of the leverage that China's government exercises over Western retailers, shares of Canada Goose are tumbling as Chinese citizens have started a boycott of its goods in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou (the daughter of one of China's most revered corporate titans). Formerly the second-best performer on Canada's benchmark stock index, CG has seen its shares tumble some 20% over the past four days, as investors worry about a lasting impact on sales at two planned stores in Hong Kong and Beijing.
This suggests that China's retaliation for Meng's imprisonment won't be limited to the arrest of a former Canadian diplomat.
The fallout from the boycott might not be limited to CG. The Global Times, a Communist Party mouthpiece, warned that this boycott could expand to other Canadian firms if Canada doesn't release Meng. One "academic" quoted in the article warned that luxury goods brands are "very likely" to being targeted.
Zeng Mingyue, a research fellow at the Luxury China Institute of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said luxury brands, embedded with high added-value and representing their original countries' cultural backgrounds, are very likely to be targeted when political or cultural friction emerges and escalates.
A Global Times article about the boycott featured quotes from Chinese shoppers who patriotically criticized the Canadian government over its treatment of Meng. One woman said she had been planning to buy a Canada Goose parka until news of the arrest broke.
A Chongqing-based female surnamed Huang told the Global Times on Monday that she had been intending to buy a Canada Goose parka before Meng was arrested.
"I have been watching closely toward progress of the Huawei case. I feel very anxious about the Canadian side arresting the Huawei CFO out of groundless reason," Huang noted.
"So far, I have not seen any sincere and cooperative attitude from the Canadian side. If the case is not dealt properly, I will definitely not buy the Canada Goose jacket and turn to other similar products," she added.
Adding to the company's anxieties about its prospects for expanding in the Chinese market, Canada Gooses losses have benefited one of its regional rivals, as shares of Hong Kong-based downy apparel maker Bosideng have climbed nearly 13% to a five-year high as investors expect the company could experience a sales bump thanks to the CG boycott.
And with Bosideng improving the quality of its products, investors are probably asking if the "collateral damage" to Canadian brands could result in a lasting disadvantage in the Chinese market.