Notebook brand Moleskine is looking to grab a slice of China’s booming café culture with the launch of its Moleskine Cafe in Beijing.
The Moleskine Cafe combines the elements of a café, art gallery and retail store, in a bid to create a creative and inspiring space where people can gather to be social and to work.
The Moleskine Cafe Beijing is the first to launch outside of Italy and will be located in the capital’s hip Sanlitun district among bars, restaurants and designer stores.
Moleskine CMO Roberto Lobetti told The Drum, the café is part of a strategy by the brand to engage with creative professionals.
“Beijing is a hub of culture and creativity in China, it is a city which embraces customs and tradition while at the same time welcoming modern practices, as evident in the architecture and way of life. This balance between heritage and innovation is similar to our own story and is why we felt that Beijing would be perfect for the launch of the first Moleskine Café outside of Italy.
“This launch is also a significant milestone in the symbiotic relationship with the Moleskine community. We want to inspire creative professionals all over the world with the necessary tools that enable and facilitate idea sharing and cultural exchange.”
“Our objective is to provide a platform for idea generation and sharing. It’s not just a place to have a cup of coffee but a place to socialise, share ideas and find inspiration.”
Lobetti says a key element of the Moleskine café concept is the cultural programs the brand has created, which sees areas within the cafes dedicated to hosting exhibitions, seminars and workshops which focus on brand relevant topics such as culture, creativity, travel and personal expression.
For the Beijing launch, the café hosted a roundtable discussion on creativity and cultural exchange in China with speakers including architect Ma Yangsong, curator of the Today Art Museum Gao Peng, and chief ballet dancer at the National Ballet of China Sheng Shedong.
“Ultimately, we would like to provide a landing place for the community that promotes creativity, culture and talent from around the world, one Moleskine Café at a time,” said Lobetti.
The launch comes at an interesting time for China’s booming café culture as brands vie to own the café experience. In December, Starbucks launched its interactive coffee and retail store Reserve Roastery in Shanghai. The launch is part of the brand’s move to expand its presence in China, where a new Starbucks opens every 15 hours.
While Starbucks is focusing on creating interactive, AR and digitally driven experiences in a bid to cater to Chinese habits, Moleskine is focusing on culture and community as a means to engage Chinese consumers.
“Moleskine has a lot of support in China and we wanted to give back to a community that has been instrumental in our growth and success. We also believe the values and philosophy of our Café resonate strongly with the Chinese community.
“As a brand we strive to be consistent and true to our values in every country we are present. In China, like elsewhere, we focus on offering tools that support the growing needs of creative professionals whilst offering inspiration through content generation and partnerships. And now, also in a space: the Moleskine Café, where the brand can facilitate cultural exchange through its events and over a cup of coffee.
“China is at the heart of the e-commerce revolution, so one of our biggest goals is to invite our public to come explore the Moleskine world. We believe this tangible, experimental approach enables us to engage on a deeper, more meaningful level. With the new Café we hope to achieve this, enabling people to visit the stores and experience our tools – and the opportunity they represent – first hand. Regardless of country of origin, Moleskine speaks to like-minded people who want to be creatively and intellectually empowered.”