HONG KONG: Luxury sales in China will increase by 7% this year, with Brazil, India and the Middle East among the other markets likely to deliver growth to the ailing industry, MasterCard has predicted.

Bain & Co, the consultancy, forecast earlier this year that global luxury sales will fall by 10% in 2009, although China is expected to be among the few countries where revenue levels improve.

The new study produced by MasterCard, in conjunction with the ESSEC Business School, estimated that North America and Japan will post declines of between 10% and 15% in 2009.

Similarly, Europe and some emerging markets such as Russia will record contractions in the 2% to 8% range, with the exact figure depending on the trading conditions in the nation in question.

Given this, China is assuming an ever-greater degree of importance, Dr. Michel Phan of the ESSEC Business School, argued.

Indeed, even though the expansion in the rapidly-developing economy is "only single-digit", it still constitutes meaningful growth during a period of great difficulty for manufacturers, he added.

MasterCard has previously predicted that wealthy consumers in China will spend $116.9 billion a year on premium products by 2015, making it a market of real long-term potential.

A survey of 600 consumers in the country with an income of at least 1 million yuan ($146,315; €104,639; £89,710) carried out by the Luxury Institute in July also found that Porsche, Hermès and Prada were among the most favoured such properties in the Asian nation.

More broadly, Phan argued luxury brand owners should take a "more personalised" and distinctive approach, as "today, without the logo, you can't tell what brand it is. They all look the same."

Online is another area where these assets need to further develop their operations, as are mobile tools like "mCommerce" portals and branded applications.

By way of an example, Phan said that Gucci and Ralph Lauren are now using "Quick Response" codes on their goods in Japan.

These enable consumers to scan the "barcode" featured on a particular item with their cellphone, and then pay for it via the same means.

Chanel and Dior are also among the luxury firms that have launched iPhone applications, and these tools offer a range of functions, from store locaters to footage from recent catwalk shows.

Data sourced from The Inquirer; additional content by WARC staff