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Published
Jan 27, 2013
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Luxury: one-fifth of China’s rich shopped in Europe in 2012

Published
Jan 27, 2013

Between 2009 and 2012, Chinese luxury consumers clearly identified their trips abroad as the best opportunity to buy products, according to a study by auditing firm KPMG. Just in the third quarter 2012 alone, the volume of “tax-free” purchases made by the Chinese increased 58% compared to the same period a year earlier. At the same time, the proportion of wealthy Chinese who made similar purchases at home in China has fallen sharply over three years, although its growth is still considerable. For 2012, 20% of survey participants said they had shopped in Europe versus 3% in 2009. And France in particular has a very strong pull, ranking first among countries to be visited.

Luxury products continue to attract wealthy Chinese (photo: AFP)

These same wealthy Chinese made fewer purchases at home – 51% versus 72% in 2009. However, 60% of them took advantage of shopping in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan compared to 43% in 2009, while 19% of them also went to Korea and Japan, versus 5% for three years earlier. These travelers were especially interested in watches (23% of those surveyed) and perfumes-cosmetics (22%), but also in handbags (18%). Jewelry (14%) and clothing (13%) were farther down on the list.

The KPMG survey said that for these consumers, buying such items remains a status symbol. For 58% of them, it is a way to express that they appreciate a high quality lifestyle, and for 42%, it is a sign of success. Fashion is becoming increasingly important. 20% thought luxury purchases to be fashionable while only 13% held the same attitude in 2009.

Ultimately, 59% of those interviewed for the study prefer a well-known luxury brand rather than a low-awareness niche luxury brand. It also appears that these consumers knows a lot more brands than in the past and are developing a consumer culture of products. In fact, 88% of study participants said that in paying a higher price for a luxury product, they are looking for quality and durability. 80% expect exclusivity and uniqueness but also good service. In contrast, only 31% of them are interested in a brand’s spokesperson and 39% considered a product’s country of origin.

Wealthy Chinese associate France with leather goods, beauty and clothing (photo: AFP)

Nevertheless, the surveyed consumers associated a specific character with each country. Switzerland is the watch country for 69% of study participants. 57% associate Germany with luxury cars. France was named most important for cosmetics (62%) but is also at the top for clothing (37%) and leather goods (31%).

According to the study, these educated consumers do not necessarily reject the potential of their own country. They see growth opportunities in alcohol, restaurants, spas and luxury hotels, areas where tradition and a brand’s age are less significant.

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