Attracting and Serving China’s Global Luxury Consumer


Sophie Doran | April 04, 2012

Renee Hartmann, co-Founder of China Luxury Network, shares the key insights from its recently released report: "Serving the Global Chinese Consumer

Chinese shoppers in Paris department store, Au Printemps (Image: NYTimes)

China’s luxury marketplace has become a strategic operational imperative for global prestige brands. Western brands need to learn to approach emerging Chinese consumers as equals, understanding their unique worldview and embracing their newfound empowerment.

China is already the second largest luxury market in the world, and with more than two million millionaires today, is on its way to becoming the world’s largest luxury market by 2020.

A brand simply opening their doors to Chinese consumers is not enough to make them spend their hard-earned renminbi. Winning over Chinese consumers requires looking at the China consumer opportunity on a global basis, not country by country.

“ Winning over Chinese consumers requires looking at the China consumer opportunity on a global basis, not country by country ”

Investing in the brand in China is therefore not just a single-market decision: brand strength in China drives sales among Chinese consumers throughout the world. Most brand and purchase decisions are made via careful research and word-of-mouth recommendations before the customer leaves China.

And with brand being the number one driver of Chinese consumer purchases, organisations need to invest accordingly to find success with Chinese consumers. After all, how can coveting, pursuing and acquiring products give potential customers “face,” if their friends back in China do not know the brand?

Conducting the report we…

China Luxury Network has released a practitioner-focused research report – providing research, best practices and recommendations for attracting and serving China’s global luxury consumer.

Research conducted for the report included qualitative and quantitative consumer research with more than 100 high net worth Chinese consumers traveling in the United States, a comprehensive brand audit of more than 150 global luxury fashion brands to assess their presence in the Global Chinese Demographic, as well as interviews with Mandarin-speaking sales associates and boutique managers in luxury retailers around the world.

Un-surprisingly we confirmed…

That brand is the number one driver of product purchase decisions among global Chinese consumers. And, brand awareness is generally built while the consumer is in China – either from retail locations in China, media coverage, celebrities or online activity. Most brand purchase decisions are made before the consumer leaves China.

“ Brands need to stop thinking about China as a geographic market, and start thinking about Chinese consumers as a global demographic ”

Most surprisingly we found…

There is more than one type of Chinese luxury consumer, and brands are typically surprised at the profiles of their best Chinese consumers globally. For example, brands typically underestimate the purchasing power of the “second-generation wealthy” Chinese consumers who often live, study and work in the US or Europe. Many brands count twenty-something Chinese consumers among their best customers.

If we were to conduct this study in 12 months time…

We would expect the number of international fashion brands who have already entered the China market to have increased by at least 40 – 50%, so that a great majority of international luxury brands will have some type of China presence – either online or offline. As a result of greater investment in the Chinese consumer, we expect the consumer to broaden the range of luxury brands that he/she desires from the short list of large brand names today.

If readers remember only one thing it should be…

Brands need to stop thinking about China as a geographic market, and start thinking about Chinese consumers as a global demographic interacting with your brand in Shanghai and Wuhan, San Francisco and Paris. Once you understand Chinese consumers in this perspective, and recognize that branding and marketing to Chinese consumers is not a “market entry” issue, but a strategic global challenge, it completely changes the way you approach this emerging consumer.”


With more than half of Chinese consumers’ luxury purchases being transacted abroad, engaging Chinese travellers wherever they travel has become an operational imperative for global prestige brands.

For more information regarding the report, and to request a copy, please contact Renee Hartmann via email

China | Reports