China set for luxury boom

25 January 2010

BEIJING: China will become the biggest market for luxury goods in the world in the next five to seven years, according to a new report by the Boston Consulting Group.

The organisation conducted a poll of 2,550 people in the world's most populous nation, and found that 26% of its participants had spent more on premium purchases last year than was the case in 2008.

Vincent Lui, a principal at BCG, said "although Chinese consumers may continue to be somewhat cautious in their spending, they still aspire to own luxury brands."

By 2015, the fast-growing economy will be responsible for 29% of all "global luxury product consumption," the company estimated.

Among the key contributors to this trend are improving income levels, with the total number of households with assets of more than $1 million (€707k; £620k) rising from 417,000 in 2008 to 609,000 next year.

More broadly, BCG suggested that the typical shopper for high-end items has a rather different profile than is generally the case elsewhere.

"Chinese consumers are relatively younger than most of the clients luxury companies have in other places, most of them are in the 25-to-35 age span," said Lui.

"And second is the mobility, meaning many people have increasing income, so yesterday they couldn't afford the luxury products, but one, two or three years down the road, they will have a means to afford [these goods]."

According to David Wolf, president of Wolf Group Asia, the consultancy, China is one of the few remaining countries where premium brands can still generate this level of interest.

"In a world increasingly preoccupied with sustainable consumption, China is the last great bastion of bling, not only luxury, but flashy luxury," he said.

Data sourced from Reuters/ China Daily; additional content by Warc staff