Kaiyu Li
Jul 10, 2014

Five tips for unlocking the luxury mindset in Chinese consumers

Luxury is about much more than status display, according to Y&R China's strategy lead Kaiyu Li.

Li:"Consumers are hungry for unique experiences"

Status display is often seen as the primary motivator for luxury consumption in China.  While there is truth in this notion, only focusing on this aspect of luxury consumption, marketers may miss out on other, richer opportunities that are emerging.  

Y&R’s GenAsia 2014 study surveyed more than 1,000 Chinese middle class consumers on their attitudes towards luxury goods. The study identified 5 trends that marketers should consider as they try to engage with their consumers.  

1. Show your belief

Quite contrary to the status display notion that is about “others”, consumers today want to know a brand’s inner heart. Over 70 per cent of the surveyed respondents want to see brands having a belief.  Consumers have seen a lot over the past decades, and there is a sense of fatigue.  This is compounded by the ever shorter innovation cycles that put more new products on the market faster.  Brands easily run the risk of losing its core. A committed belief gives the brand integrity. Having a belief will empower brands to stay consistent and keep all the innovations meaningful and relevant to consumers. 

What a brand believes in is increasingly becoming a factor in my purchase decisions: 74 per cent

2. Embrace the everyday

It’s not the public showy occasions that make luxury compelling. Consumers want luxury to be intimately part of their lifestyle. They have been through the trajectory of buying a home, owning a car, and now they seek to build a lifestyle beyond the ordinary.  They are looking to luxury brands for education and inspiration to enhance lifestyle experiences (66 per cent).  As a respondent said, he has been playing with marbles, and now it’s time to learn golf.  

Luxury brands allow me to improve my lifestyle: 66 per cent

3. Get creative

The status symbol theory is based on the external value of displaying luxury goods for the world to recognize.  But increasingly people are looking to luxury goods for self-expression, a value that is particularly motivating as the luxury consumers are getting younger. They are self-confident, and want to follow their passions. They want brands to be just for them, to allow them to experiment and be creative.  To appeal to this need, luxury brands need to evolve its traditional static and almost “sterile” image to more expressive values. 

Luxury is being free to express my personality and individuality: 65 per cent

4. Be personal

Luxury is getting very personal, rather than public.  Contrary to the popular perception that they lead a leisurely lifestyle, China’s middle class tend to be self-made.  They’ve reached a station in life where they want to create moments to pamper themselves and reward their families, experiences that allow them to enjoy and indulge in the fruits of their work. These are deeply personal moments as they recognize and celebrate the journey they have taken to get to where they are.  Brands have the opportunity to create such moments along the path to purchase, as well as surrounding the usage of the products.  

Buying luxury items is a way to pamper my loved ones and myself:  65 per cent

5. Get physical

In contrast to the usual portrayal of the luxury world as of elegance and distance, which lives on the catwalk and in the display rooms, consumers are hungry for unique experiences that get them physically engaged.  Luxury doesn’t have to be a show or a pose to be admired. Brands can get visceral, by inviting consumers to “get dirty” with them.  

Luxury is about having unique experiences even if it involves physical effort: 68 per cent

Passion for luxury burns deeper than the display. These five trends speak of the deeper motivations behind luxury consumption, a good place to start keeping the passion alive.

Kaiyu Li is chief strategy officer with Y&R China


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