New Chinese Luxury Consumer Types: What Does the Reopening of Chinese Borders Mean for Luxury?

After a period of closure, China has reopened its borders to foreign travel, signaling hope for the struggling luxury industry. With the lifting of Covid restrictions and an increase in outbound tourism from China, global brands are expanding their presence in one of the world’s largest markets. However, it is not just traditional luxury consumption that is on the rise; we are also seeing new consumer types emerging in post-pandemic China.

In this blog post, we will explore what the reopening of Chinese borders means for luxury and how businesses can adapt to cater to these new consumers. Join us as we dive into this exciting topic!

How The Reopening Of Chinese Borders Affects The Luxury Market

Chinese outbound tourism is expected to increase significantly following the reopening of borders, leading to a major impact on the global luxury market.

Chinese outbound tourism has become a major force in the global luxury market.

This may change the preferences and spending habits of Chinese tourists, leading luxury brands to adapt culturally and collaborate with local celebrities and influencers who appeal to this audience.

Additionally, luxury brands may take advantage of e-commerce platforms catering to the growing number of Chinese customers.

Evolution Of ‘Revenge Spending’ And Its Effects On The Luxury Market

The reopening of Chinese borders has led to a phenomenon called “revenge spending,” where consumers are buying luxury items after being unable to do so during lockdowns and travel restrictions.

This has resulted in increased sales growth in the luxury market, particularly in fashion and accessories, with China expected to account for 60% of total spending growth on these items by 2030.

While some experts argue that revenge buying may be a temporary trend that could fade over time, others maintain that Chinese consumers will continue to seek out high-end products due to their global tastes and discerning demands.

tmall luxury pavilion home page

Changes In Consumer Behavior: From Purchasing Abroad To Local Consumption

Chinese customers are changing their luxury consumption pattern from purchasing abroad to local consumption, and this has been further accentuated by the pandemic’s impact on the borders of China.

With travel restrictions and quarantines still in place at the start of 2022, Chinese customers increasingly made most of their luxury purchases within mainland China.

Despite being price-sensitive customers who would travel abroad to buy products cheaper, top spenders, in China are already traveling overseas again.

Shift In Product Preferences: From Western To Asian Luxury Brands

As the Chinese borders reopen, there has been a shift in consumer attitudes towards luxury goods. Instead of Western brands dominating the market, there is now a preference for Asian luxury brands among Chinese consumers.

For example, the Chinese brand Li-Ning has become increasingly popular due to its unique designs and culturally relevant marketing campaigns.

This trend can be attributed to several factors such as the growing sense of national pride among young consumers and increased exposure to homegrown brands through social media platforms like WeChat.

Emergence Of New Consumer Types In Post-Pandemic China

New consumer types have emerged in China’s post-pandemic economy, including young, digitally savvy individuals who prioritize experiences and seek out brands that align with their values.

Chinese millennial and Generation Z consumers now make up a significant portion of luxury buyers in China.

There has also been a shift towards online platforms for shopping due to brick-and-mortar store closures during the pandemic.

Technology is important in the shift towards e-commerce as it offers personalized product recommendations, virtual stores that use AR/VR for immersive shopping experiences, and makes the purchasing process more accessible than traditional physical retail.

Generation Z And Millennial Consumers

Generation Z and Millennial consumers are driving domestic demand for luxury goods and other products, making them a crucial demographic for brands to target.

Chinese Gen Z consumers have diverse preferences and interests, with a significant focus on local fashion brands, household supplies, and home appliances. They’re digital natives who crave unique experiences that cater to their individuality.

As for Millennials, they’re known for being socially conscious and environmentally aware – values that are increasingly reflected in their consumption habits.

From Physical Stores To Online Platforms

Shopping habits in China have moved from physical stores to online platforms, as consumers prioritize convenience and safety in overcrowded spaces.

Brands can capitalize on this shift by investing in e-commerce and improving the online customer experience, with a focus on personalization and smooth transactions.

Growing Trend Of Sustainable Luxury

Luxury brands need to prioritize sustainability in response to consumer demand, especially from Gen Z and Millennial segments who prioritize eco-consciousness.

According to Bain & Company, 80% of Chinese respondents consider sustainability when making purchasing decisions.

To cater to these consumers, luxury brands must adopt sustainable practices throughout their supply chain, including sourcing raw materials, packaging, and marketing strategies.

Brands like Stella McCartney have set an example by using recycled polyester and organic cotton in their designs while reducing carbon emissions through the use of renewable energy sources in manufacturing facilities.


Adapting To The New Consumer Types

Luxury brands must focus on being omnichannel with a strong digital presence, localized experiences, and personalized offerings tailored to the evolving consumer behavior in China.

Digital Marketing And E-commerce: The Importance Of Being Omnichannel

An omnichannel approach involves using multiple channels to reach consumers, providing a seamless shopping experience across all platforms, whether online or offline.

To stay ahead of the game when competing in China’s luxury market post-reopening means adapting your communication strategy to embrace an increasingly tech-savvy consumer base that demands a unique shopping experience tailored for them across various channels.

Localization And Personalization: Creating Experiences Tailored To The Chinese Consumer

Customizing experiences to fit the unique tastes and preferences of this market is essential for global luxury brands’ success in China.

For instance, Gucci created localized content for its digital platforms in China with creative campaigns featuring local celebrities.

Other examples include Dior partnering with Tencent’s WeChat app to provide personalized skincare recommendations based on data like weather and humidity conditions at customers’ locations.

Shanghai Tang, a Hong Kong-based brand, has succeeded by fusing traditional Chinese fashion elements such as embroidery into contemporary designs that appeal to young consumers looking for new interpretations of Chinese culture.

Collaboration With Local Influencers (KOLs) And Celebrities

Luxury brands find it essential to collaborate with local influencers and celebrities in China to establish personalized connections with consumers who rely on word-of-mouth recommendations.

Balmain’s partnership with Chinese singer and actor Zhang Yixing resulted in a 500% increase in sales after he wore their clothing online.

BalmainxZhang Yixing

Another example is Gucci’s partnership with Lu Han, a popular celebrity in China known as “the nation’s little brother.” Gucci collaborated with Lu Han on creating limited edition products that were sold exclusively in China.

Global Brand Ambassador: Luhan

Sustainable Practices In The Luxury Industry To Appeal To Eco-conscious Consumers

growing interest in sustainable fashion and environmentally responsible practices is evident among younger, urban, and socially conscious consumers.

It’s crucial for luxury brands not to misread consumer sentiment when it comes to sustainability in China. In some cases, western perceptions of what constitutes being “green” may not align with Chinese perspectives.

To address these concerns effectively, businesses should invest time in studying the local culture and values.

Case Studies

Luxury brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton have successfully adapted to the new consumer types by partnering with local influencers and creating personalized experiences through AR and VR technology.

Examples Of Brands That Have Successfully Adapted To The New Consumer Types

Chinese Social Media and Kols - Taobao's Kols Platform

In China’s luxury market, brands that successfully adapted to the changes brought by the reopening of borders shifted their focus towards understanding local consumer preferences.

For instance, Gucci quickly pivoted from a focus on Western marketing campaigns and brand ambassadors to incorporating Chinese cultural elements in their designs and partnerships with local KOLs like Xiao Zhan.

Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton launched an online store on Tmall Luxury Pavilion to target younger consumers who prefer shopping through e-commerce channels.

Other brands like Burberry have embraced sustainability as a core value proposition for eco-conscious Chinese consumers.

Lessons Learned From These Case Studies

From the case studies we analyzed, it’s clear that adapting to the post-pandemic Chinese luxury market requires a few key strategies. Firstly, businesses must prioritize digital marketing and e-commerce.

This means being active on China’s major social media platforms like WeChat and leveraging online marketplaces like Tmall and to reach consumers where they are most active.

Perfume search results on Tmall

Secondly, localization is crucial for creating tailored experiences that resonate with Chinese consumers.

Thirdly, technology can be used to create personalized shopping experiences through augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI).

Fourthly, adopting sustainable practices is no longer optional but essential for winning over eco-conscious Chinese consumers who demand responsible products.

We are your local partner in China!

To succeed in the post-pandemic Chinese luxury market, brands must adapt to new consumer types and behaviors, leverage digital technologies and sustainable practices, collaborate with local influencers, and offer personalized experiences.

In addition, purpose-driven and socially responsible brands are gaining traction among Chinese consumers.

Gucci’s implementation of sustainable practices in their supply chain and reduction of carbon emissions resonate with eco-conscious consumers in China.

By collaborating with local influencers (KOLs) or celebrities, luxury brands can build trust and credibility with Chinese shoppers.

Contact GMA

We are a China-based marketing agency offering cost-effective solutions to foreign brands interested in tapping into the Chinese market. Our team of Chinese and foreign experts has the experience and know-how needed to succeed in this lucrative, yet complicated market.

Gentlemen Marketing Agency offers many digital marketing and e-commerce solutions, such as web design, e-commerce and social media marketing strategies, localization, market research, KOL marketing, and more.

Don’t hesitate to leave us a comment or contact us, so that we can schedule a free consultation with one of our experts, that will learn about your brand and present you the best solutions for your China market strategy.

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