It's official: The Chinese have surpassed Americans as the largest buyers of luxury goods, Bloomberg is reporting.
Not that this comes as a huge surprise. It's no secret that the Chinese market has been an important one for luxury brands to develop in recent years. Indeed, it seems like every other day we’re reading about a luxury brand opening up a swanky new flagship there.
We've already seen, particularly at the Paris shows, a very visible Chinese It-girl contingency. And Chinese fashion magazines are increasingly fueling the appetite for luxury. The Independent noted that Vogue China sells more copies than British, French, Italian, and German Vogue combined. There's even some evidence that Alexander Wang's Chinese connections may have helped him land the Balenciaga gig. Bottom line? The Chinese are buying.
The numbers are pretty impressive. According to Bloomberg, the Chinese now account for 25% of luxury sales. The US makes up 20% of the luxury market, followed by the Japanese at 14%. China's domestic luxury sales were about $17 billion.
But the Chinese aren't necessarily spending on home soil. Because of the comparatively weak euro, they can snag as much as 40% off by buying products abroad. So not only will brands have to figure out how to best sell to the Chinese in China, they also need to figure out how to market to them in other parts of the world. (Excluding them from new hotels, like Zadig + Voltaire supposedly did, is probably not the best policy.) Weibo, the Chinese Twitter equivalent, might be a good start.
It will be interesting to see how brands adjust their marketing, what they're selling, and how they sell to appeal to this monster new market.