Luxury Gifting By China’s Wealthy Plummets 25 Percent

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Model Ming Xi walks the runway for Chanel, the top gifting brand of choice for high-net-worth Chinese women.

As the Chinese government’s campaign against official luxury gifting blazes on, a Hurun survey of wealthy Chinese luxury consumers published today reveals that China’s high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) spent a quarter less on luxury gifts in 2013 than they did the previous year.

The Hurun Research Institute’s annual Chinese Luxury Consumer Survey for 2014 queried China’s wealthiest individuals on a host of topics, including their luxury spending habits, preferred brands, travel activities, collection purchases, education, and more.

When it comes to luxury spending, China’s affluent are clearly scaling back: not only was gift spending down 25 percent, but overall spending was down 15 percent, according to the survey, which was conducted between May and November 2013. Average annual spending on luxury by millionaires accounted for 1.9 percent of their total wealth, a 1 percent decrease from last year. For the super-rich, the amount was 1.3 percent. However, consumer spending, spending on tourism, and children’s education remained the same as last year.

There may be several reasons for this decrease in spending. In addition to the Chinese government’s continued crackdown on gift-giving to officials for bribery purposes, China’s rich have also embraced the global trend of avoiding ostentatious displays of wealth. “There is a paradox at the heart of the Chinese entrepreneur: on the one hand they want to stay discreet, and on the other hand, they are currently buying more Rolls-Royces and luxury watches than any other nation,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, the founder of Hurun.

Gifting is clearly not dead in China, however. For the upcoming Chinese New Year, expect China’s wealthy to be buying wine and jewelry: red wine topped the list of the best gifts for men, while jewelry was the number one gift for women.  For men, baijiu, watches, electronics, cigars, and art made the list, while women’s preferred gifts were slightly different, including apparel, watches, travel vouchers, and electronics.

When it comes to favorite brands for gifting, Louis Vuitton lost the top spot for men after being replaced by Hermès. Chanel maintained its position as the top brand for women, and Louis Vuitton was once again second. Apple maintained its position in second for men, and moved up the list for women—perhaps after first lady Peng Liyuan was spotted using an iPhone earlier this year. The only Chinese brand, Moutai (or Maotai), continues to fall, dropping down to 14th for men. The full chart is below:

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[Note: Last brand in women’s category is Chopard.]

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