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Nicola Mira
Oct 8, 2018
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East Asia's three luxury consumer attitudes revealed: Ipsos

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Oct 8, 2018

The latest World Luxury Tracking survey by global market research firm Ipsos has identified three main consumer attitudes in the East Asian luxury market.

They are labelled ‘Me Myself & Us’, ‘Casual Materialism’ and ‘Intense Fluidity’, and have emerged from a series of interviews carried out with 5,700 consumers from China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Russia; markets where the consumerist frenzy is gradually being replaced by what has been defined as “sensible hedonism.”

The Ipsos survey has identified three main attitudes in the East Asian luxury market - Ipsos

The first attitude described by Ipsos, ‘Me Myself & Us’, emphasises the ever-present role of luxury goods as a personal development tool, endowed with a social role vis-à-vis the community.

Of the consumers interviewed, 79% see luxury as a means of empowerment. Compared to the same survey two years ago, the percentage was 10 points higher for women, and the attitude it describes is most keenly felt in China. In two years, sensitivity to price has instead fallen by 24 percentage points, while the preference for personalisation has strengthened by 11 points, and is now shared by 86% of Millennials.

Family and friends influence the purchasing behaviour of 44% of East Asian consumers, though 91% of Chinese stated that they are influenced by trips abroad.

“The need for role models who endorse brands in the community is significant, and the part played by influencers in determining purchasing behaviour is markedly more important (+13 percentage points for international stars, +8 points for social media),” wrote Ipsos, adding that “this phenomenon was initially very strongly felt with millennials, and it is now extending to older consumers.”

‘Casual Materialism’ is another widespread attitude towards luxury in East Asia, where consumers have no qualms in criticising excessive luxury. But while the appetite for luxe goods has shrunk by 19 points in Russia, it remains stable in the rest of Asia. Yet it is becoming more “casual”, with greater expectations for quality and service.

According to 90% of interviewees, a brand must be the guarantor of its own authenticity and top-level quality. On the other hand, many consumers have not yet taken the plunge into buying luxury goods online, with 76% of interviewees lamenting the lack of sensorial experience.

In Japan, 19% of interviewees expect the luxury industry to invest on ethical sourcing and environmental protection.

“While a few years ago the region was characterised by a consumption frenzy, new values are emerging,” wrote Ipsos.

Quality and service are gradually taking precedence over the mania for luxury brands and logos - Ipsos

The third trend, ‘Intense Fluidity’, underlines the demand for a seamless online-offline experience with luxury brands, an element which has gained nine percentage points in two years.

Luxury stores remain the preferred venues for making purchases, as customers appreciate their exceptional service (according to 85% of the panel), tailor-made products (82%), empathy in human relationships (90%) and comfort (89%). The vast majority of interviewees, 95%, prefers the physical store experience. The survey also showed that East Asian consumers are increasingly keen on luxury shopping when they travel abroad.

This is a key factor, given that 77% of interviewees have travelled in the last two years, and as many as 80% and 96% respectively in the case of those from China and Hong Kong. Shopping is so important when they travel, that 93% of Chinese and 63% of Russians know in advance what they will buy. More than ever, the role of duty-free shops is crucial.

“The relationship with luxury is clearly shifting, both in terms of how opinions have changed with regards to the survey's past questions, and in terms of the free associations and images analysed by our AI tools,” said Françoise Hernaez Fourrier, Director of Strategic Planning at Ipsos.

“Luxury [consumption] isn’t any longer single-handedly driven by brand addicts, but it touches on more people, who have a feel for creativity and authenticity. More than ever, it is a statement of self-worth and personal success, but it also involves a degree of art of living, and it strongly demands high service quality,” added Fourrier.

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