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China and US differ on luxury brands

News, 03 December 2014

SINGAPORE: Both Chinese and American affluent consumers expect quality when considering luxury products, but exclusivity carries a much higher premium in China while price matters more for Americans, recent analysis has shown.

This is one of the key findings from Agility Research & Strategy, a Singapore-based consultancy which looked more closely at China and the US based on a wider survey it released earlier this year that also included Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia.

Based on respondents in the top 25% of household income, the survey found a full 86% of Chinese affluent consumers agree that they buy luxury brands because of their exclusivity. This compares with just over half (51%) of affluent Americans.

But price is much more influential for US consumers with almost three-quarters (73%) agreeing that "it is important to get the best possible price when buying luxury brands" compared to just under half (49%) of their Chinese counterparts.

Quality matters for 72% of US affluent consumers, but it's a notably bigger motivator for purchasing luxury brands in China (86%) where only 4% disagree with the statement that they "buy luxury brands because of the higher quality they provide".

Turning to their online purchasing behaviour, the report found Chinese affluent consumers have been much faster to adopt the internet as a buying channel.

More than four-in-five (81%) of the Chinese affluent say they research products online, compared to 65% in the US, while 59% of Chinese go on to purchase online compared to 50% of US respondents.

Affluent consumers in China also tend to be more conscious of status, according to the report, which argued that the top three fashion brands in China – Chanel, Gucci and Burberry – were more "upscale" than the more affordable Coach, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, the top brands in the US.

Data sourced from Agility Research; additional content by Warc staff