aficionados ignore prices
(November 15, 2004)
international brands in high-fashion and household goods are keen
to identify themselves with the new lifestyles of an increasingly
prosperous segment of the mainland population, especially in the
major cities and coastal regions.
the 6th China Daily CEO Roundtable Conference themed "Lifestyle
China" held on Friday in Hong Kong, representatives of several
well-known international luxury brands agreed that it is important
they are seen as an integral part of the lifestyle of successful
business people and professionals rather than just luxury goods.
the key is to translate desire into purchase," says Christina
Hudson, marketing director of the consumer marketing division
of DTC Asia Pacific Ltd.
they strive to achieve a modern lifestyle, many Chinese consumers
also have to wrestle with many choices nowadays. For instance,
they may consider whether they should buy a car, a diamond, or
a house first, because luxury goods lump together with household
electrical appliances and other consumer durables.
all about lifestyle especially when it comes to luxury goods,"
says Caroline Roberts, store director of Dolce & Gabbana Hong
Kong Ltd. Why would Chinese consumers spend 12,000 yuan (US$1,446)
on a famous-brand handbag when the average monthly salary might
be at 3,000 yuan (US$361.45)? According to Roberts the answer
is simple it is the lifestyle you desire.
company, she adds, constantly arranges overseas training for Chinese
staff to give them a real touch of Western lifestyles. By so doing,
the company hopes its staff can share their own experience of
modern lifestyles with their Chinese customers.
a matter of fact, the market for luxury goods, or the desire for
pre-eminent lifestyle, is fast impacting some quarters in China.
to a survey on Chinese women's shopping habits by Elle, the leading
international fashion magazine, 34 per cent of its readers, usually
white-collar office employees, say "they shop a lot because
they love it, and 25 per cent say "they shop without counting,"
which is 10 percentage points higher than the world's average.
In addition, it is more noteworthy that 40 per cent of respondents
place work top of their personal achievements, much higher than
the world's average of 22 per cent.
are very impressive messages for the luxury goods industry. They
indicate that Chinese women are increasingly independent, confident
and they have a clear vision of what they desire, says Hugues
Witvoet, senior advisor to LVMH Executive Committee.
is part of their lives and increasingly high-end brands will become
their top priority shopping items, which is an underlying strength
for the development of the luxury goods market in China, adds
Witvoet, who is also chairman of the 6th China Daily CEO Roundtable
the luxury goods market in China is just coming of age,"
the company's rapid development from the first store in 1992 to
its current 10 stores in major cities, Witvoet stresses that it
has a long way to go to catch the robust demand for luxury brands
in the country. "It has never been too late to join as the
luxury industry in China is just starting up."
are a growing number of Chinese people touring around the world
for "genuine" luxury brands, making Chinese consumers
a sort of ideal consumer like Japanese in the future.
Chu, executive director of Mission Hills Group, agrees. "The
trend of lifestyle in China has experienced a brisk development
in the past two decades, and people have more time and choice
for entertainment. For example, 10 years ago, karaoke and dinner
might have been major recreational activities for Chinese. But
now, playing golf has gained much popularity in the country,"
Wu, general manager (Leasing) of Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency
Ltd says China has developed much faster than had been imagined.
Ten years ago Wu's company was designing huge bicycle parks for
shopping centres, now they are demanding carparks.
his experience of promoting famous brands in China, Tommy Leung,
vice-president of the Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association
Ltd says that it is important to team up with local government
and local media, not only to establish a presence in the mainland
market, but also to effectively combat counterfeit goods.
association, in collaboration with the Hangzhou municipal government,
has set up a special counter for "Made-in-Hong Kong"
watches at a major shopping mall in the popular tourist city in
Visot, chief executive officer of Hachette Filipacchi Asia-Pacific
for Greater China, South East Asia & Australia, which publishes
Elle, says the press has a significant role to play in lifestyle
choices and boosting China's leisure market.
those who attended the roundtable reached a consensus that the
protection of intellectual property rights is probably the No
1 issue to be addressed.
Azario, brand manager of V.S. Ltd, which represents Italian brand
Valentino, says the biggest obstacle for expanding its business
in China is the lack of effective trademark protection.
has more than 200 different Valentino brands, but only the Italian-originating
Valentino belongs to luxury brand, she said. "The major task
for us is to deliver a clear message of our positioning and differentiate
our brand from other Valentino," says Azario.
needs to concentrate on strengthening efforts to stamp out counterfeit
products, warns Witvoet. "I do not believe there will be
a strong long-term luxury market in China without a significant
change in the protection of intellectual property rights."