For the past eight years, Swiss private banking group Julius Baer has been compiling its Wealth Report Asia, which tracks the spending habits of high-net-worth individuals with net investible wealth of US$1m or more, excluding property that is their main residence.
The annual report also compares different Asian cities against a basket of goods and services to determine the expense of living there – or at least in terms of luxury spending.
By these measures, the Julius Baer lifestyle index ranks Shanghai as the most expensive city for six out of 22 items – hospital accommodation, watches, handbags, wine, jewellery and skin cream.
The Chinese city is also among the most expensive in the region for hiring a lawyer, paying for a wedding banquet, buying a car or even a “degustation dinner” or a cigar.
Out of the 11 cities under review, Singapore ranks second overall – buying a car or having a degustation dinner is most pricey in the city state – but it also sits in the middle of the list for almost every other item, including golf club membership or booking a hotel suite.
Hong Kong comes in third, the Chinese territory being the most expensive for business class flights, residential property, hiring a lawyer and botox injections. However, it offers good value for those luxury consumers looking to buy wine, jewellery and skin cream.
Kuala Lumpur is Asia’s least expensive city for luxury goods and services, particularly when it comes to buying a car or jewellery as well as property (residential and hotels).
For this year’s report, Julius Baer also introduced a “His & Hers Index”, which compares the prices of several luxury goods specific to each gender across all Asian cities.
And it found Seoul, the South Korean capital, to be the most expensive city for both male and female luxury goods, partly because of a sales tax of 20% on certain luxury goods but also millennials in South Korea are beginning to opt for more accessible contemporary brands.
Elsewhere, the report stated that women now account for half of Chinese luxury spending and the purchasing power of women in Asia is increasingly “gaining recognition”.
For example, women are spending more on products traditionally seen as male areas of interest, such as cars, which women increasingly view as a status symbol.
Sourced from Julius Baer; additional content by WARC staff