status symbols

New Wealth, New Luxury Market: The Rise of China

Isaac Mostovicz writes that Chinese consumers’ opt for Western luxury status symbols...

China is becoming the biggest luxury market in the whole world, but what is interesting to note is that Chinese-owned luxury brands are hard to come across, while Western brand shops dominate the Asian market.

I have written before about how luxury brands are eyeing up consumers in emerging markets, particularly in China, who have helped contribute to the record sales of numerous luxury labels over the Christmas period.

BBC News published an article this week that contributes to the high volume of discussion over China’s emerging class of consumers.  The article notes, however, that there are few high-end brands that originate from China.

Zhang Zhifeng is the designer of Chinese fashion label Tiger NE which he says is one of the few Chinese luxury brands. “In Beijing and Shanghai, our shops are still mainly surrounded by Western brand shops”, he says.

As the journalist notes, “when people start to become consumers, what they want is a little bit of luxury”. What is apparent in the Asian luxury market trend is that the western ideals of luxury appeal to these new consumers. The idea of “fitting in” with western fashion seems to be the force behind the Asian consumers appetite for luxury, whereby the brand becomes a status symbol.

For Zhifeng’s homegrown brand, though, the increase in luxury consumption in China means good news for his sales. And as more and more retailers realise the differences between the Chinese and Western clothing industries, and the huge potential in moving into the high end fashion business, there might emerge new Chinese-owned luxury brands from those looking for a slice in this expanding market.

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Is the luxury logo key to a product’s success?

Isaac Mostovicz writes that the quality of a brand's product can be more important than its logos...

Two recent studies have found that for many luxury consumers, (1) an item’s quality is more important than its use of obvious logos and (2) luxury brands charge more for items with more subtle logos.

The first article, “Subtle Signals of Inconspicuous Consumption,” appears in the current issue of Journal of Consumer Research, and suggests that luxury consumers prefer with “discreet markers, such as distinctive design or detailing,” than obvious brand logos. And the second study, “Signaling Status with Luxury Goods: The Role of Brand Prominence,” in this month’s Journal of Marketing, said “luxury brands charge more for ‘quieter’ items with subtle logo placement and discreet appeal.”

One of my favorite fashion brands, Bottega Veneta, really takes this to heart. Their goods are made with extraordinary craftsmanship and materials, and never display a company logo. The prices match the quality. For example, they offer a pair of flip-flops, or “basketwoven leather thong sandals“, for $396. Most people wear $10 flip-flops for a summer and get a new pair each year, whereas these Bottega Veneta basketwoven leather thong sandals will last a lifetime and will only improve with age.

Perhaps only a few people will notice this level of quality, in sandals or other garments, but those that do form a very exclusive club which many Thetas and Lambdas would aspire to be part of I think.

interior design says of this article...

Thank you for this post. Funny how the universe gives you what you need. I was looking for new direction and came to your site. You continue to be a source of inspiration.

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Luxury buyers choose quality and subtlety over brash logos

Isaac Mostovicz writes...


Photo by S Baker

While many luxury brands are plastering their logos in more places, fashion house Bottega Veneta continues to offer logo-free designs that are marked by quality, not flash.

This profile of Tomas Maier, Bottega Veneta’s head designer, in the New York Times today provides a great example of how companies can go after a small market of ‘in the know’ quality seekers and be very successful.

Maier doesn’t offer three different sizes of a bag at different price points; he believes that one bag, if it’s of high enough quality, should be good enough. Bottega Veneta uses fabrics and leather of the highest quality and pays attention to details that other clothing and handbag makers might ignore or overlook. From the article:

While other designers were producing dart-free baby-doll dresses as if they were so many Fords, he concentrated on deceptively simple, painstakingly constructed styles priced from about $1,200 to $6,000 for an evening dress. The dressmaker touches — ruching, serpentine seaming, hand-beading and elaborate pleats — are recognizable to a small but informed clientele.

This sort of attention to detail allows people to appreciate luxury in a subtle, more demure way, which could be appealing given the current state of the economy. Said Milton Pedraza of the Luxury Institute:

[Affluent consumers] don’t want to be screaming luxury right now. They don’t want something flashy that everybody else has. They are looking for unique handcrafted things that can’t immediately be reinterpreted at every level of the marketplace.

Read the full article here.

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