Luxury marketers have waged a seemingly never-ending battle against counterfait goods in China. Despite recent government efforts to step up enforcement, faux luxury will unlikely disappear anytime soon. Manufacturers, along with their lawyers, customs officials, and local police, continue to hunt down counterfeiters in one place, only to see them pop up again in another.

While Chinese consumers may have a hard time shaking off their reputation for their hearty appetite for knock-off luxury goods, the reality on the ground is slowly starting to change. Consumers are looking for the real thing, and they are increasingly willing and able to afford it.

One trend underscored by ‘McKinsey Insights China’ survey data casts a ray of hope for luxury marketers: Chinese consumers are expressing a growing appreciation for authentic luxury products. The percentage of consumers who said they were willing to buy faje jewelry has dropped significantly from 31% in 2008 to 12% this year. Some luxury buyers told us they were sure their friends would spot a counterfeit, a decidedly embarrassing situation. One woman who used her first salary check to reward herslf with a luxury handbag told “it would be meaningless if it was fake.”

“International weel-known brand” has become one of the top buying factors with “superior craftmanship” continuing to be the most important

Half the consumers spoken with in 2010 said better quality is an important reason to buy luxury goods, up from 36% in 2008. A well-known brand was the second-most important buying consideration, mentioned by 43%. For ready-to-wear clothing, leather goods, jewelry, and watches, quality and craftsmanship – which reflect a product’s heritage – are two of the top 3 consideration factors. And internationally well-known brands have replaced innovative design as one of the top 3 factors consumers consider when purchasing these goods. ‘Luxury sector slow to change in China’, Financial Times, June 27th, 2011.


Chanel – “to share the brand’s culture with the Chinese people”

The scorching pace of growth in China’s high-end luxury market can be gauged by the fact that it is worth around $10 billion (7.33 billion euros) in slaes. While most of the companies are looking to expand their presence in China with more store openings and launching new products, there are several others like French luxury fashion house Chanel. Chanel is neither a stranger nor a new kid on the Chinese block. It is after all  the second-most desired luxury brand in the nation after Louis Vuitton.

This spring around the company was coming up with a two-month exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary art (MOCA) in Shanghai showcased the design legacy of it’s founder Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. The “Culture Chanel” exhibition provided a biographical look into the life and many influences of Coco Chanel, an orphan girl who founded one of the world’s most prestigious brands in 1909. The exhibition showcased some 400 works, including 100 on loan from private collections and museums worldwide, and occupies both floors of the glass-and-steel museum.

“Culture Chanel is an exhibition specially made for China,” says Xu Beini, a marketing executive from Chanel China. “It is the biggest ever exhibition that Chanel has organized in China.” “We hope to enrich the perception of Chanel among Chinese audiences by presenting the history and fundamental values of our fashion house,” the Chanel statement says.

“China is one of the world’s fastest-growing desinations for luxury products. As this interest in luxury grows, we would like to take this opportunity to share with the Chinese people our brands’s culture, history and values, in a more comprehensive and interestinn approach,” Chanel statement says.

According to data from the World Luxury Association, luxury sales in China rose to $10.7 billion last year, a 14  percent growth compared to 2009. That growth helped it surpass the United States as the world’s second largest luxury market, after Japan before the earthquake.

The exhibition “Culture Chanel” was running until March 14th, 2011, in Shanghai, and then move to Beijing in October 2011. But the show has already evoked good response considering the buzz it is making in the virtual world. Nearly 9,000 micro blog useres have signed up to be “a fan” of the exhibition official account within half a month, while 4,000 messages about the exhibition have been exchanged on the country’s most popular social platform. “Shanghai has great respect for culture and has a tradition of bringing together the tastes of the East and the West,” says Samuel King, chairman and director of the museum.

Editorial by Andrea Janke based on McKinsey’s Insights China / China Daily

Follow Andrea by Twitter @andreajanke


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‘The Haute Couture As Experimental Field’


ANDREA JANKE  Designer & Fashion-Editor for ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories

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