Retailers keen to bond with affluent Chinese consumers

Isaac Mostovicz writes that the Chinese high net worth seek a different kind of relationship with luxury retailers ...

A recent article in the Financial Times discusses how Western retailers are attempting to capitalise on the Chinese love affair with luxury and woo high net worth consumers from that region.


Image courtesy of Stock.XCHNG

To coincide with the Chinese New Year, Affinity China, a luxury club for the wealthy Chinese organised a tour of New York where several brands “hosted” their high net worth visitors – among them Mont Blanc, the pen maker, which treated the shoppers instore to a recital by Lang Lang, the Chinese pianist.


These kinds of tailored experiences are just one of the ways that upscale Western brands are trying create and nurture relationships with affluent Chinese shoppers – and are discovering where the differences in these consumers’ attitudes lie.


Even when luxury stores accommodate Chinese shoppers by hiring Mandarin speaking staff and accepting the China UnionPay credit card, there are still contrasts. China engenders a “natural distrust” of overeager sales associates and many of the rich guard their privacy carefully – meaning that the cosy relationship Western luxury brands try to initiate with their most affluent customers is not a viable route.


Furthermore, as the desire for more flashy means of demonstrating their wealth recedes, there are many Chinese millionaires who are now interested in the provenance of their goods – or rather, what justifies the high price tag attached to them.


As per previous posts on this blog around the Lambda / Theta distinction of luxury shoppers, these kinds of Chinese consumers could be classed as Lambda – who see the item’s value not in terms of price, but rather, in terms of craftsmanship.


Victor Luis, president of Coach’s international business comments of these shoppers: “They are interested in understanding the history of the product, how it’s made, the quality, how to take care of the leather. ”



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