Wealthy Chinese increasingly make their luxury shopping in Europe

According to a study by KPMG, in the third quarter 2012 alone, the volume of “tax-free” purchases made by the Chinese increased 58% compared to the same period a year earlier. At the same time, the proportion of wealthy Chinese who made similar purchases at home in China has fallen sharply over three years, although its growth is still considerable. For 2012, 20% of survey participants said they had shopped in Europe versus 3% in 2009. And France in particular has a very strong pull, ranking first among countries to be visited.

These same wealthy Chinese made fewer purchases at home – 51% versus 72% in 2009. However, 60% of them took advantage of shopping in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan compared to 43% in 2009, while 19% of them also went to Korea and Japan, versus 5% for three years earlier. These travelers were especially interested in watches (23% of those surveyed) and fragrances /cosmetics (22%), but also in handbags (18%). Jewelry (14%) and clothing (13%) were farther down on the list.

The KPMG survey also found that status symbol is the primary motivation for luxury shopping. For 58% of them, it is a way to express that they appreciate a high quality lifestyle, and for 42%, it is a sign of success. Ultimately, 59% of those interviewed for the study prefer a well-known luxury brand rather than a low-awareness niche luxury brand.

It also appears that these consumers knows a lot more brands than in the past and are developing a consumer culture of products. In fact, 88% of study participants said that in paying a higher price for a luxury product, they are looking for quality and durability. 80% expect exclusivity and uniqueness but also good service. In contrast, only 31% of them are interested in a brand’s spokesperson and 39% considered a product’s country of origin.

Nevertheless, the surveyed consumers associated a specific character with each country. Switzerland is the watch country for 69% of study participants. 57% associate Germany with luxury cars. France was named most important for cosmetics (62%) but is also at the top for clothing (37%) and leather goods (31%).