Chinese luxury shoppers seek home comforts

WEALTHY Chinese shoppers are beginning to ditch European shopping trips for Asian spending sprees.

HSBC's luxury expert Erwan Rambourg claims in his latest report titled 'The Bling Dynasty' that the rise of shopping trips by wealthy Asian people to Korea, Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore will increase - driven by higher priced goods in Europe and the rising Euro.

He warned that luxury brands need to ensure they have a strong presence across Asia.

He said: "In 2013, a risk for luxury companies is a possible reversal of the trends seen in 2012 - Chinese consumers are now buying more at home, but less abroad."

UK based leather brand Mulberry last month issued a profit warning and said the handbag brand could not rely on tourists to Europe alone. Its. Chief executive Bruno Guillon warned that the group must step up the awareness of its brand overseas.

But Mr Rambourg claimed there is a balance between recognition and overexposure for luxury brands. He said: "Chinese shoppers have become more sophisticated and discriminating, which means some established brands may lose market share - we call this a 'first-mover disadvantage."

Chinese fashion followers are dumping heavily logoed brands and the sophistication of Chinese shoppers has moved a step further, hhe claimed.

He explained: "Chinese luxury consumption is becoming increasingly lifestyle-focused, with consumer preferences moving away from logo-driven designs and favouring leather over canvas.

"A few years ago, it was common for Chinese men to leave the label sewn on the sleeve of their suits so that people knew what brands they were wearing. Chinese consumers have become more sophisticated and are increasingly seeking out more subtly designed luxury goods."

Mr Rambourg considers Hugo Boss, Coach and Prada as brands that are in a position to take advantage of this trend.