China key to luxury growth

19 October 2012

BEIJING: Consumers in China are set to deliver almost half of the growth generated by the luxury category in the period to 2015, a report has argued.

Roland Berger Strategy Consultants predicted luxury sales would reach €29bn across the Chinese mainland in 2015, from a global total of €181bn. These figures stood at €9bn and €132bn in 2010.

More specifically, it stated China should yield 40% of growth during this period. Europe will post 19% of the expected expansion and attain a value of €58bn by 2015, with the US on 18%, and generating €48bn.

In three years' time, China will also be worth more than Japan, which is set to grow from €16bn to €17bn, and outstrip Asia Pacific as a whole, where sales are due to almost double and hit €22bn.

Based on a survey of 1,393 adults in China, the study found that 55% of local buyers are female and 45% are male, a balance that is more evenly split in Western Europe.

Luxury customers are generally younger in China than elsewhere, too, as 65% of the current audience is under the age of 40 years old, standing at 46% in nations like France, Germany and the UK.

Equally, a 68% majority of luxury consumers in the Asian market are in the highest 20% of earners, measured against 36% for their Western European counterparts, the analysis added.

Roughly 30% of buyers are "wealthy second generation" from the families of affluent executives and officials, the study continued. This group also included "rich men's wives".

An extra 25% were "era leaders", or business owners and senior executives. People acquiring gifts made up another 20%, with "ambitious elites" and "stylish white collar workers" on 10% apiece.

Word of mouth recommendations were a primary source of information about which goods to choose for 51% of the sample, ahead of physical stores on 45%, magazines with 43% and TV spots on 38%.

The brand was the main reason for picking a certain product for 43% of shoppers, beating design on 31%, quality on 19%, and price on 7%. A 57% share of the panel had never chosen an unfamiliar brand.

One key future demographic will be Chinese tourists, who spent €14bn on luxury while abroad in 2010. A total of 58 first, second, third and fourth tier cities also contain 70% of domestic buyers, allowing for a targeted approach in the country.

Data sourced from Roland Berger Strategy Consultants; additional content by Warc staff