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Middle-class Chinese snap up overseas luxury

By Lin Jing and Chen Yingqun (China Daily)

08:29, January 23, 2013

An increasing number of middle-class Chinese are buying luxury goods outside the Chinese mainland, with more overseas travel driving the trend, a KPMG report said on Tuesday.

Seventy-one percent of survey respondents - middle-class mainland residents - traveled overseas in 2012, compared with 53 percent in 2008. And 72 percent of them said they bought luxury items during such trips, with cosmetics, watches and handbags being the most popular items.

Brand recognition continues to rise as consumers become more discerning and seek experiential luxury as well as one-of-a-kind luxury brands and products. Respondents said they recognize 59 luxury brands, from 45 in survey conducted in 2010.

The report - The Global Reach of China Luxury - is based on a survey of 1,200 middle-class Chinese consumers in 24 cities. Market research firm TNS conducted the study.

Respondents were 20 to 44 years old, with a minimum household income of 7,500 yuan ($1,205) a month in tier-one cities and 5,500 yuan elsewhere.

Chinese consumers associate certain countries with particular products. For example, Switzerland is recognized for its luxury watches, while France scores highest for cosmetics and perfumes.

Nick Debnam, KPMG's Asia Pacific chairman in consumer markets and the author of the report, said the growing number of Chinese people traveling overseas is a result of the emerging middle class and easier travel arrangements.

"What we are now seeing is that the brands which are well positioned in China are receiving a boost in overseas markets from the emergence of a surging new class of traveling and well-off Chinese consumers, who typically have strong spending power and a great interest in luxury," he said.

China has become a focus of the luxury industry in recent years, and the travel and spending habits of Chinese consumers are also reshaping the luxury goods market, Debnam said.

Pascal Armoudom, an expert with A.T. Kearney Management Consulting Co Ltd in Shanghai, said Chinese consumers are playing an increasingly important role in the global luxury market.

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