Chapter 19The Chinese Luxury and Premium Market

Chinese consumers now account for 27 percent of all global luxury product purchases. Think about that, one out of four luxury handbags, watches, cars, jewelry, and pieces of apparel sold wind up in the hands, closets, and garages of Chinese super consumers. Luxury purchases were early drivers of the Chinese consumer boom. The first consumers in China who could afford foreign goods were the first wave of newly wealthy entrepreneurs, merchants, factory owners, and megabusiness managers—and, aside from a few fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, the first foreign retail and consumer product players in China were luxury companies.

The luxury category still is and will remain a consumer growth engine for the Chinese economy and for local and foreign brands and retailers alike.

Over the past 10 years, many European and American luxury companies have been buoyed, enriched, and, in some cases, saved by Chinese luxury consumers, especially after the crash of 2008. Companies like LVMH, Prada, and others, who saw the bottom fall out in the United States and Europe, remained profitable or became more profitable due to their China business.

While luxury consumers in China were once a very small, very wealthy, and hard-to-measure elite, luxury spending now includes a wide range of consumers across class, income, and regional lines.

It is also critical to note that while Chinese consumers account for more than one quarter of all luxury ...

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