Just because it's Western doesn't mean it's luxury

Just because it's Western doesn't mean it's luxury

A new wave of brand-conscious consumers in China are getting sick of being told Western means luxurious
China’s most overrated brands
Would this purse company make the cut for China's elite or end up like the rest of China’s most overrated brands? Photo by Flickr user Romana Correale

China’s growing elite are a never-ending source of fodder for bloggers, but just because they’re easy to write about doesn’t mean they’re easy to please -- at least according to a piece on Hexun’s luxury site on China’s most overrated brands.

Although Western companies used to dominate the luxury market, China’s new fickle, plush elite are educating themselves and not allowing just any Western brands into their circle. The big names feeling the cold shoulder? Ones that are considered average in their countries of origin anyway. Think Coach (we're not quite sure we agree with this one) or Gap.

Other brands to make the China’s most overrated brands list? MANGO, Swarovski and Calvin Klein Underwear. We'd also like to throw Pizza Hut on there but maybe that's just us.

For all three, the article’s author sees their trumped up position in China as somewhat of a hoax, something pulled over on Chinese consumers. For MANGO, “…[Despite Penelope Cruz appearing in MANGO ads,] this can’t change the fact that in Europe MANGO is considered low-priced. When this cheap Spanish brand came to China it was suddenly considered fancy.”

Calvin Klein Underwear faced similar charges: “Overseas [Calvin Klein's] status is barely higher than Baleno [a Chinese mass-market brand], that is to say, ordinary underwear.”

Although these companies might have seen China as the land of opportunity and a chance to re-invent their brand image, it looks like the savvy Chinese consumer just isn't having it.

So what is a true luxury brand? Chanel is one, says the article. “When people ask why [Chanel] has been so slow to expand here, the answer is: China’s consumer groups have not yet reached Chanel’s high standards.”

We guess that's kind of true for the moment, but considering Hermes is opening it's new China-made line in April, Shang Xia, in Shanghai, and Chanel opened its flagship store in the Peninsula hotel, it won't be for long.

If you’re not Chanel, as long as your goods are rarely discounted, barely in the mainland yet and not highly publicized, you’re on the right track.

A borough-bred Manhattanite, editor and writer Jessica Beaton lived in Shanghai for five years and has now moved to Hong Kong.

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