Affairs

In Asia: Awful news for prestige players, great news for emerging brands.

SINGAPORE — According to a new study, affluent Singaporeans are staring to care increasingly less about logos and brand names, and are actively seeking out luxury brands beyond the usual prestige players. Sound familiar?

“When it comes to making luxury purchases, Singaporeans are no longer drawn as much to the prestige and status that come with high-end brands. Instead, product performance and aesthetics are what fuel the appetite of local shoppers.

This is according to a new study conducted by Mediacorp and luxury market research firm Agility Research and Strategy, which found that only about one-third of affluent Singaporeans (38 per cent) felt that it was important for others to recognise the brands that they are using. An even lower percentage of respondents (31 per cent) said they like the idea of people knowing the luxury brands they buy.”

Why this is good: Most coverage on Asia obsesses over whether Asian consumers are still interested in prestige brands, and whether they’re still responding to the bling factor. The anxiety in those reports is palpable. For good reason: this shows that — in Singapore at least — tastes in the region are changing. Shoppers there are starting to look for alternatives to legacy offerings. This is great for MLCs, who just so happen to embody the very qualities shoppers in Singapore are actively seeking out.

Where does China fit into this? Recently, one subscriber suggested that perhaps the conditions for MLCs as we know it in western markets are not the same as in China:

“The bigger question is if MLCs have the opportunity in China as those in the West. From my own research it seems that the establishment (Kering, LVMH and Richemont) would have the larger share of customer mind set and purchase intent.

One other thing to keep in mind is the MLC would be even more dependent on the Alibabas etc for distribution as that is where online shopping occurs.”

This parallels with another recent conversation with a VC about the lack of MLCs coming out of China — do they exist at all, and if they do, are they unconcerned about stepping outside domestic market given the size?

Final thought: When it comes to Asia, and China specifically, the luxury narrative unilaterally centers on China as an El Dorado for conglomerates. But just because China has the size and the means to be a large luxury consumer, doesn’t automatically make the market compelling.

Taking the top five tradition luxury markets today — Japan, UK, US, Italy, France — each is known for its strong consumerism habits. Yet they’re also known for developing brands that perform on the global market. In the Asian discussion, we consider Japan, and increasingly at South Korea, as mature(ing) markets. Compared to China, both offer a supreme mix of brand production and luxury consumption.

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