News / Economy

China Luxury Struts Despite Graft Crackdown, Slowing Economy

China's Luxury Sales Surge Amid Graft Crackdown, Slowing Economyi
X
September 24, 2013 2:53 PM
China is cracking down on government excess and corruption. Advertisements for luxury goods are banned and it’s riskier than ever for officials to flaunt their wealth. Even with the official focus on austerity and China’s slowing economy, however, Chinese demand for luxury goods continues.
China is cracking down on government excess and corruption. Advertisements for luxury goods are banned and it’s riskier than ever for officials to flaunt their wealth. But even with the official focus on austerity and China’s slowing economy, Chinese demand for luxury goods continues.

In the rich port city of Shanghai luxury shops are like convenience stores, there is one on almost every corner.  China is the world’s second largest market for luxury brands.  By 2015, McKinsey and Company estimates the country will account for more than 20 percent of the global luxury market.

Luxury industry analyst Pablo Mauron said that despite the challenges, he is still upbeat about the future.

Mauron, who is the general manager China of the Digital Luxury Group said that while there are some signals of slowing, overall luxury brands remain confident about China.

“They keep investing massively in China, opening new stores. In Shanghai, we have new malls, new luxury malls opening every month almost,” Mauron said.

After years of breakneck expansion, China’s economic growth is hovering around 7.5 percent.  While that’s not bad and a level many countries would envy, it’s a sharp change in China after years of annual growth around and above 10 percent.

'Brother watch' effect

Embarrassed by corruption scandals that have highlighted the privilege of China’s ruling Communist Party elite, the government has banned lavish banquets, gift giving and ostentatious displays of wealth.

Yang Dacai - the former Chinese official who also is known as “brother watch” - was sentenced to 14 years in prison earlier this month. Yang’s corruption was exposed when a blogger noticed that he frequently wore expensive luxury watches and asked how he could afford the flashy timepieces on a civil servant's salary.

In late August, China announced it was expanding consumption taxes on even more luxury goods.

While these things could spell trouble for high-end retailers, Mauron said companies so far are not worried, and remain focused on the traditional challenges of luxury brands.

“The key challenge, no matter what the context, around some controversy over gifting with corruption or problems, issues with the taxes, I think the main challenge is still the same,” Mauron said. “Which is how to boost the local consumption and how to find some reasons to buy locally when the consumers know it is more expensive.”

Affordable luxury

Luxury goods are even more expensive in China than overseas, because of high import and consumption taxes. That has led many Chinese to shop abroad in Europe and the United States in search of better deals.

Such savvy shoppers are part of China’s growing “affordable luxury” sector. Ken Grant, the head of FDKG Insight, said the sector is one that brands are finding new ways to reach.

"Luxury brands are all trying very hard to find new customers, which means they need to innovate in what they do, they need to introduce new products,” said Grant who is the head of FDKG Insight. “Perhaps products that they did not traditionally have, they are expanding their lines and maybe introducing some lower price point products to attract new consumers.”

First lady's influence

Demand is also growing for China’s own luxury goods. The wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping has helped boost interest in high-end Chinese fashion by wearing only locally designed brands on her trips overseas.

French luxury and retail group Kering has put its backing behind the jewelry company Qeelin. The brand combines Chinese culture with French craftsmanship. Chinese brand Shang Xia mixes modern design with Chinese culture, and its biggest investor is French luxury brand Hermes.

Without such backing, it is far more difficult for local brands to compete, Grant said. “They need to be around long enough and their challenge is whether they’ve got the stamina to do that or whether the people who invest the money are willing to invest for a long time,” he said.

Many traditional luxury brands took decades to establish their reputation. According to a recent survey, the World Luxury Index China 2013, of the most sought after luxury products in China, only one Chinese brand was among the top 50. That jewelry brand, Chow Tai Fook, was founded in China back in 1929.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9084
JPY
USD
122.73
GBP
USD
0.6431
CAD
USD
1.2639
INR
USD
63.444

Rates may not be current.