By Sasha Padbidri
Nearly 1.1 million wealthy Chinese tourists visited America in 2011 to fill their suitcases with jewellery from Tiffany, bags from Burberry and a whole bunch of other brands that would cost thrice as much back home.
Meanwhile in Europe, Chinese tourists made up 62% of the continent’s luxury good consumers. Sales in Europe have generally been higher than North America thanks to an odd “Chinese” notion that “true” prestige and culture can only be derived from older, well-established European brands. Nothing says luxury quite like the entrenched stink of feudalistic monarchies/Catholicism/bubonic plagues, it seems.
Subsequently, this has left luxury brands scrambling to make new changes in order to cater to the needs of their new clientele. German high-end watch manufacturer Mont Blanc now has Mandarin-speaking staff members in its American boutiques, while other brands like Burberry and Tiffany are also following suit.
As China continues to enjoy unprecedented prosperity, the rate of luxury brand consumerism is expected to increase sharply, especially since the commodity tax rate on luxury goods in China remain at 4.17 times the rate in America. By 2015, China is expected to become the world’s largest luxury good market, which could have socio-economic implications for both China and the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, that faint whimpering you hear is the sound of several hundred rappers collectively bemoaning the fact that they’re no longer the global exemplars of bling.