Luxury trends vary in China

01 December 2011

BEIJING: Young Chinese consumers prefer luxury brands that can claim a strong "heritage" and degree of "authenticity", and are also increasingly willing to buy these products online, according to a study.

Ruder Finn, the PR network, and Albatross Global Solutions, the research firm, polled 1,057 people in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, with most of the panel drawn from the "Post 80s" generation.

It reported that 92% of Chinese respondents would boost or maintain their spending on luxury goods in 2011 despite rising inflation and worldwide economic uncertainty. This total dropped to 20% in Taiwan.

"With an optimistic outlook for the future, Mainland China will continue to lead the growth of the global luxury market in the coming years," the study added.

More broadly, the analysis revealed social triggers for buying premium lines - like proving a person's status or "showing off" - have fallen to second place as a motivation, behind "self-orientated" factors such as doing so for pleasure and as a treat.

Additionally, the emerging group of young luxury customers prefer big-name brands, as Cartier, Omega, Rolex, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci are on "top of their wish lists".

The origin and history of a brand constituted the primary issue considered when making purchases, and there was little interest is learning about "other international" alternatives yet to enter China, posing a test for latecomers.

"Young consumers are the future of China's luxury industry. Understand and address their needs; build solid brands through heritage, authenticity and personality," said Elan Shou, managing director of Ruder Finn China.

Marketers must also pay attention to the web, as 35% of the "Post 80s" audience already acquire luxury goods from the net, and microblogs are among their top four information sources regarding such products.

Another core trend identified by the report included the fact that members of the sample typically did not buy on impulse, instead carefully comparing prices and waiting for the best deal.

The rising occurrence of overseas travel is exerting an influence here, as many shoppers go to Hong Kong and Europe in search of better products and prices.

Indeed, a recent estimate from Beijing's University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Fortune Character, the magazine, suggested up to 50% of category purchases are made in this way.

Data sourced from Ruder Finn; additional content by Warc staff