Luxury goods of China

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The market for luxury goods in China composes a significant proportion of all luxury goods sales worldwide. In 2012, China surpassed Japan as the world's largest luxury market.[1]

According to a blue paper on commercial development in China, released in 2010 by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), China's luxury goods market had increased to US$9.4 billion by the end of 2009. This accounted for 27.5% of the world's luxury goods market,[2] an increase from 25% in 2008.[3] On current growth rates, the luxury goods market in China is expected to grow to US$14.6 billion by 2014.[4]

Market characteristics[edit]

Chinese luxury goods consumers are younger than their European counterparts, belonging to the 18-50 age group, compared to Europe's consumers who are generally in the over 40 age group. For this reason, China's luxury goods market is expected to grow faster than that of Europe's.[4] Many of the young luxury goods buyers are self-employed or professionals. According to the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, 80% of Chinese luxury goods buyers are under 45, compared with 30% of luxury goods buyers in the United States and 19% in Japan.[5] Retail sales in China account for only 7% of global retail sales of luxury consumer goods; however, Chinese buyers account for 25% of global retail sales of luxury consumer goods. Many shops in international travel destinations have specialized staff devoted to Chinese customers.[6]

According to 2007 Global Luxury Survey by Time magazine, most luxury goods buyers in China buy luxury products as a status symbol. The top five luxury watch brands in the country are Rolex, Omega, Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, and Breitling.[7]

In a confidential report titled "China Luxury Market study 2010" in November 2010, the management consulting firm Bain & Company noted the top three luxury brands in China are Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Gucci. According to the report, watches and bags led the growth of the luxury market in 2010. The report documented the top three luxury brands in the country for the following products:[8]

Product 1st 2nd 3rd
Cosmetics, perfumes and personal care Chanel Lancôme Dior
Watches Rolex Omega Cartier
Suitcases and handbags Louis Vuitton Gucci Chanel
Menswear Giorgio Armani Ermenegildo Zegna Versace
Jewelry Cartier Tiffany and Co NA
Shoes NA Prada Chanel
Womenswear Chanel Burberry Giorgio Armani

Following a ban instituted in October, 2012 on government agencies purchasing luxury goods, often used as "gifts", sales of luxury goods in China remained strong, but slowed, even falling slightly for some luxury retailers in the 4th quarter of 2012.[6]

As of February 2014 2/3rds of the luxury goods purchased by the wealthy in the People's Republic of China were purchased by tourists in Europe and the United States where, particularly in Europe, high-end retailers have hired staffed fluent in Mandarin.[9]

Luxury cars[edit]

Major global luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Lexus have operations in China. Audi, which has dominated China's luxury car market for more than two decades, is the market leader in the luxury car segment, with China being Audi's second largest market in the world. However Audi's market share in this category is gradually falling as BMW and Mercedes-Benz are adopting new strategies to boost sales. According to data from Global Insight, Audi's market share in China decreased from 66% in 2004 to 42% in 2009, while the market share of BMW and Mercedes-Benz increased from 7% to 23%, and 9% to 16%, respectively. BMW is enlarging its current plant in China and building a second one.[10]

Audi is still the dominant choice of car in the government fleet market.[11] BMW sales are growing but is perceived to be for the newly rich.[11] Mercedes is seen to be for old folks.[11] Brands such as BMW and Audi are designing customized cars for the Chinese luxury car market. BMW designed a model with a longer wheelbase especially for government officials in order to give the back seat passenger more space. [12]

According to Stephan Winkelmann, CEO of Lamborghini, "China's super car market is growing faster than our expectations, while the Western markets are declining. The strong demand will soon make China our second biggest market after the United States. If the high taxes on luxury cars are removed, China could very well become the biggest market."[13]

As of 2013 the trend continued as the number of luxury cars and SUVs shown expanded at the Shanghai auto show and plans were announced by both foreign and domestic auto manufacturers to introduce new models in China and increase production of larger cars.[14]


Swiss shipments of high-end watches, favored as gifts meant to curry favor and caricatured as a symbol of corruption, after peaking in 2012, dropped off in 2013.[15]


In April, 2013 sales of gold and jewelry were 72% higher than in April, 2012.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "China bans television ads for bling". Retrieved February 15, 2013. 
  2. ^ China to be world's biggest luxury goods market in five years: blue paper
  3. ^ China becomes world's 2nd largest luxury market, People's Daily Online, July 27, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Keywords to learn China, The Korea IT Times, May 28, 2010.
  5. ^ China still has an appetite for luxury goods
  6. ^ a b Qu Yunxu (February 26, 2013). "China's Frills and Posh Market Springs a Leak: Wealthy Chinese consumers continue to drive global demand for luxury goods, but the engine is losing steam". Caixin. Retrieved February 26, 2013. 
  7. ^ Global Luxury Survey: China, TIME.
  8. ^ China Luxury Market study 2010, Bain & Company.
  9. ^ "Catering to the Chinese Shopper’s Grand Tour" article by Nicola Clark in The New York Times February 3, 2014
  10. ^ Audi’s Two-Decade China Dominance Threatened by BMW, Mercedes, April 21, 2010.
  11. ^ a b c ANDREW JACOBS; ADAM CENTURY (November 14, 2011). "In China, Car Brands Evoke an Unexpected Set of Stereotypes". 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Rich Chinese fueling luxury car market growth, People's Daily Online, April 29, 2010.
  14. ^ Keith Bradsher (April 21, 2013). "Chinese Auto Buyers Grow Hungry for Larger Cars". The New York Times. Retrieved April 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ Raphael Minder (April 26, 2013). "Watchmakers Find Gold Rush in China Is Slowing Down". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  16. ^ Joe Weisenthal (May 13, 2013). "Chinese Gold Jewelry Sales Went Ballistic In April". Business Insider. Retrieved May 13, 2013.