Why is Asia so brand conscious?

One of the readers of this blog asked a very good question: Why is Asia so brand conscious? This was in response to a photo I posted of the queue I observed outside the Louis Vuitton store on Orchard Road, Singapore. Why do people queue up to enter a store that sells two thousand dollar handbags?

Well, precisely the reason they can get away with selling two thousand dollar handbags 🙂

One interesting fact is that Japan consumes luxury goods twice as much per capita compared to the U.S.; AND luxury goods consumption in Japan is largely unaffected by recession, as evidenced by strong demand during the prolonged economic slowdown.

Hermes and Bulgari have high exposure to Japan, with about 30% of all product sales coming from that country. Louis Vuitton generates about 33% of its revenue from Japan.

I remember coming across an article in the Shanghai Daily where they described a poll of Chinese citizens. When asked what would be the first luxury item they would buy, almost invariably, respondents said a Swiss watch. A Swiss watch is a symbol of luxury, much like a German luxury canadian pharmacy cipro car. It's a statement that you've made it. Everyone wants to be seen as having “made it big”.

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This is very important for a person's mianzi, or face.

The irony is that those in higher positions care more about mianzi than those in lower positions. ie the more money you have the more important it is to maintain mianzi. A Chinese businessman friend of mine once related a story to me. He went out to see a potential client in his Japanese car and was asked the question: “Why are you driving a Toyota?” He promptly disposed of his car and bought a BMW.  Chinese customers need to see that you're “successful” before giving you work. It's easy to understand why that is. It's difficult to ascertain if someone has the capabilities to deliver, so we look for shortcuts to see if someone owns the symbols that we associate with success.

In New Zealand, this is rarely the case. People generally do not care about how they are perceived, and are less likely to judge a book by it's cover. I must say in my personal experience, I've noticed an increase in Euroasia's revenue after I sold the Audi and started driving a Nissan (the Audi is pretty costly to maintain). I don't think my clients think any worse of me simply because I'm not driving an Audi.  I need a car simply to get from point A to B, so all I need is a reliable vehicle.

Going to St Lukes in worn out clothes, and without makeup is pretty acceptable. Although I must say this has changed in the past few years. I'm beginning to notice that people tend to care a lot more about how they look. Either that or people these days are simply better looking.

I'm still undecided as to whether that's a good thing or not.


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About The Author

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.