China Wants Fewer Burberry and BV Handbags, More Chanel and Hermès

The rich are getting richer when it comes to the most desired handbag brands in China.

A recent survey by investment bank RBC Europe shows that Chanel (which 20 percent of respondents said they intended to buy) and Gucci (16 percent) are the most-wanted designer handbag brands among Chinese luxury consumers in 2018. They were followed by Hermès (12 percent), Prada (nine percent), Louis Vuitton (eight percent), and Dior (eight percent). Asked to set aside budgetary constraints, respondents chose Hermès as their most desired brand. Chinese consumers hold the heritage French brand in high esteem for its world-class craftsmanship.

Previously popular brands, such as Armani, Burberry, and Bottega Veneta, are losing favor with Chinese consumers. Their brand desirability decreased significantly compared to the year before.

The report, released by RBC on April 17 to investors, is based on a survey of 643 affluent Chinese consumers from March 26-29 who had at least made one luxury purchase in the last 12 months. These respondents hold annual household income over 200,000 RMB ($31,852), and 62 percent of them are considered millennials (aged 18-34).

The obvious conclusion from the report — that the big-name brands already leading the market will become even more dominant in 2018 — is counterintuitive. This trend is taking shape at a time when young Chinese consumers are known for being increasingly open to exploring niche fashion labels.

The report also notes that clothing, shoes, and beauty are three categories that Chinese consumers like to purchase online.

In the luxury shoe category, Louis Vuitton (20 percent) and Gucci (19 percent) are leading the way, followed by Prada (13 percent), Dior (10 percent), and Balenciaga (eight percent). Specialist luxury shoemakers like Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Roger Vivier and Manolo Blahnik attracted less interest. The Italian footwear label Salvatore Ferragamo was flagged as “under pressure” this year. Not too long ago, it was among Chinese consumers’ top five favorite shoe brands.

The report also notes how the streetwear and athleisure trend has driven up the popularity of sneakers among Chinese millennials. Today, almost all luxury brands have their own sneakers.

Competition among high-end jewelry brands is less fierce. Tiffany (26 percent) and Cartier (26 percent) lead the way, followed by Bvlgari (15 percent). Piage (three percent), Graff (two percent) and Buccellatti (one percent) have become less popular among Chinese luxury shoppers. In the watch category, Rolex (20 percent), Longines (13 percent), and Omega (12 percent) were the three most-desired brands.

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Consumer, Market Trends