The Chinese New Year break is now over, so what should we expect throughout the coming year of the Rooster? Our experts at Quintessentially share their predictions here on what to expect in luxury – including trend insights and consumer spending patterns set to shape the luxury sphere for the year ahead.
While 2016 was defined by its unpredictability and fast paced news cycle that had the world on the edge of their seats, the tumultuous year also saw the luxury sector continue to shift towards digital, with the rise of mobile shopping and social media reaching new frontiers within China’s tech savvy luxury consumers. Experiential luxury was also set at the forefront of premium brand strategies, with engagement and brand loyalty seen as paramount to keeping customers plugged in.
Building off last year’s legacy, 2017 is set to see the continuation of digital dominance, with a focus on exploiting new opportunities for growth within mobile and e-commerce, as higher percentages of luxury brands become available online in China. Although the mainland’s economic growth may continue to cool, luxury brands need not fear, with this group of shoppers targeted to remain one of the most important globally.
Wealthy Chinese consumers will still travel to purchase luxury items abroad, with many goods still costing more in China despite equalisation measures at home to harmonise prices and repatriate spending. Favourable currency changes in shopping capitals such as the UK add to the allure of buying overseas, with Brexit’s pound plunge making the destination even more attractive. Short haul destinations will also remain popular such as Thailand and South Korea, but Japan may see fewer numbers after recent increases in the value of the yen. As in 2016 China marketers will therefore still need to continue building brand awareness and strong buying intentions, to encourage domestic spending.
While snapping up luxury goods abroad may remain a favourite past time for Chinese consumers, buyers’ focus remains more channelled online, with research prior to making a purchase still an integral part of the customer journey, going hand-in-hand with the experience at physical stores. With e-commerce and mobile remaining an integral bright spot, brands will continue to build on and strengthen digital teams, with those in the know catching onto the full marketing and customer service potential of WeChat and other social media / app mediums with the rise of ‘social e-commerce’.
Moving away from luxury brands, Chinese consumers are also continuing to invest overseas in key areas such as education and property. A rising trend over the past few years, investing in the future will continue to remain important to Chinese consumers, as they look to send their children overseas to capitalise on education opportunities not found at home. The UK, USA, Canada and Australia remain the four top educational destinations. The educational trend continues to tie in with the rising alternate investment trend of purchasing property abroad, often with the aim of securing school places or to provide a base for children overseas.
Within luxury travel, 2017 will see Chinese travellers searching for authentic experiences as this group continues to become bolder and more sophisticated in their choices. Adventure travel still remains popular, with activities such as paragliding in Switzerland and sky diving in New Zealand taking off alongside popular staples like Japan, Europe, the Maldives, Bali & Thailand. Aside from adventure related trips expect to see a rise in demand for ecotourism resorts, as consumers consider the effect of global warming and impact on the environment. In China itself a series of new luxury hotel openings have seen an influx in international and domestic travellers. Sanya takes the top spot as China’s beach destination, with the exclusive Yàlóng Bay lined with luxury international resorts.
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