The China conversation has shifted away from millennials and toward Gen Z. But brands, institutions, and organizations that want to stay ahead of the curve must look beyond generational demographics and shift their focus to a new type of grouping: the Chinese Cultural Consumer.
On January 26, join Jing Daily for a conversation with experts from Alibaba, Red Ant China, and revolutionary artists like Shxpir to discuss how brands can best reach this increasingly important group, the product categories they gravitate towards, and much more. Register here.
The Chinese Cultural Consumer’s deep interest in culture is largely unaffected by commercial considerations. According to Karl Cyprien, managing director of Archive Editions, the China-specific platform launched by artist Daniel Arsham, “The hierarchy between the mediums is relatively nonexistent compared to the West.” The Chinese Cultural Consumer (CCC) cannot be likened to classic art collectors, Cyprien said, as they act in an educated, fan-like fashion, collecting and consuming culture in all its facets, whether through branded merchandise or works of art.
Yet, when considering the CCC, a key distinction must be made between consumption and collecting. Whereas consumption — typically involving fashion and luxury brands — often involves relatively straightforward purchase that serves a near-term purpose (such as the need for something to wear), collecting serves longer-term goals, whether investment for future resale or the establishment of a personal legacy. Simple consumption by CCCs is an important sales driver for many major luxury brands today, with Chinese consumers accounting for an estimated 21 percent of all global luxury sales in 2021, up from 20 percent in 2020, according to Bain.
CCCs who buy not only for the sake of leisurely consumption, but also to build their interest-based collections (including rare and hard-to-find items) are emerging as VIPs for top brands. This is particularly true for luxury brands that base their top consumer lists not simply on who spends the most, but what they spend on, their personal networks, and their particular tastes. But moreover, for the luxury market, this represents an important sea-change that will make it more difficult for traditional VIP shoppers in Europe, North America, and Japan to get their hands on the most sought-after products.
Another important trend bringing new challenges to international luxury brands is the CCC’s rising awareness of China’s own artists, designers, and heritage. Whereas the core Chinese luxury consumer of just a decade ago displayed a marked preference for Western or Japanese imports over domestic brands, younger CCCs — digitally savvy, educated, and raised in an era during which imported brands could be taken for granted — increasingly value China’s cultural and artistic heritage. As Jing Daily columnist Daniel Langer noted, “Since they grew up in a globalized world, [young Chinese consumers] value local traditions and local talent. They are more patriotic than any generation before and like to support homegrown businesses.”
Register here for Jing Daily’s webinar: Chinese Cultural Consumer – The Future of Luxury, taking place January 26 at 9:00 AM EST / 2:00 PM GMT.