The Luxury Market Shift in China

As China’s economic juggernaut continues and its luxury shoppers become more discriminating, there is the beginning of a shift in the luxury market in China. Global trends such as sustainability, social responsibility, mindfulness, locally produced and giving back to the community are getting ready to take center stage in the luxury market in China. Identifying market shifts is critical in the fast-moving Chinese market where markets can change in months vs. years. Big players such as LVMH and Alibaba are supporting this effort. Stella McCartney, a leading fashion designer said, “If you try to create something people enjoy, and it happens to be made in a responsible way, then that’s when you can really strike an incredible balance.”

The Chinese market presently is following the pattern similar to the Japanese market of the early 1980’s when Japan having reached a level of unprecedented growth went on a global luxury buying spree. While the demand for luxury goods are robust the emergence of hand-crafted unique products with purpose emerged in Japan during the post luxury boom. We see the same trend emerging in China.

This past week we conducted meetings in Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou with officials, thought leaders, luxury brand experts, trend forecasters while visiting both large and small retailers and start-ups to explore this question.

Based on our interviews and observations we see the emergence of demand for socially responsible and cultural representative high-end artisanal goods in China based on the following points:

Shanghai is developing a “made in China,” initiative which features hand-made artisan Chinese luxury goods in its famous shopping districts.

Hangzhou based; Alibaba is supporting this trend in that they are empowering Chinese artisans with their platform. Alibaba believes that “science and technology are the greatest drivers of social good in our age,” and is helping local artisans market their goods on Alibaba.

An internationally positioned luxurious crafts brand Chaccra, who sees Chinese market is their major focus in the coming years, is the best example of the fusion of sustainability, social responsibility, mindfulness, locally produced and giving back to the community.

We met Sharon Shi who is Founder and Chief Creative officer of Chaccra in Hangzhou. Shi says, “all of our pieces are hand-crafted with soul by skilled artisans in Nepal and are designed to preserves the country’s exquisite cultural diversity through craft and design.” We see Chaccra as the epicenter of change in luxury today.  Again, Stella McCartney adds “everyone can do simple things to make a difference, and every little bit really does count.”

The markets shift at a blinding speed in China and staying one step ahead of trends is a market imperative in the Chinese luxury market today.