Luxury habits mature in China

21 December 2012

BEIJING: Product design and quality, as well as brand image, are the main influences on luxury shoppers in China, according to a new report.

Robb Report, the magazine, and Ipsos, the insights provider, polled 206 affluent consumers, with the average respondent coming in at 40 years of age and boasting assets worth RMB4.2m.

Product design was among the primary factors shaping purchases for 57% of contributors, beating quality and durability on 47%, the same total as brand image.

After-sales service recorded 31% on this metric, ahead of the function performed by the item in question on 28%.

Given these results, the study suggested buyer habits do not revolve around a desire to "show off", or acquire offerings effectively serving as "status symbols". Rather, the concept of luxury was "maturing and becoming more personalised".

The typical respondent spent RMB1.6m on high-end products and services in the last 12 months. Leather goods accrued some 30% of expenditure, with cars on 20% and watches on 16%.

More specifically, spending within the luxury retail segment – including leather goods, cars, fashion and jewellery – now stands at approximately RMB1m per year, the report added.

Over 50% of participants intended to make similar purchases in the coming year. Magazines, the web and word of mouth were seen as the main sources of credible product information.

When discussing fashion labels, fully 68% of the panel agreed they included Italian brands within their consideration set in this category, reaching 48% for French alternatives.

Brands from the US yielded 29% here, while competing lines from Japan logged 20%, indicating the comparative strength of European manufacturers in this area.

Elsewhere, the analysis found that China Merchants Bank was now the most popular private financial services firm, reflecting the increasing prominence of domestic over foreign operators in this sector.

"For the young and affluent crowd, the bank's reputation was their first consideration when choosing a private bank, followed by customer service and return on investment," the study said.

Data sourced from Robb Report/Ipsos China; additional content by Warc staff