Wealthy Chinese love London because the city symbolizes elegance, class and nobility. For the nouveau riche, traveling to London not only validates wealth — the ability to travel abroad — but also indirectly confers a new status of being part of aristocracy since some consider London the most aristocratic city in the world. China’s new money is eager to get a crash course on the appreciation of the finer things, which many believe the British possess. They are enamored by recognizable brands and stereotypes of British lifestyle such as castle living.
Shopping is the most popular activity while in London. Burberry and Louis Vuitton top the shopping list. The two brands are among the most recognizable luxury logos in China, making them the best gifts for Chinese clients, the top reason for Chinese men buying luxuries, according to Boston-based research company Bain & Company.
Many are also shopping for real estate. They are looking into the local housing market either as investment or for their children. According to Hurun Report, a Shanghai-based research firm that tracks China’s rich, U.K. and the U.S. are the top two destinations where wealthy Chinese families want to send their children to study abroad.
With the Chinese currency RMB rising against British Pound GBP, buying an apartment in downtown London is very attainable unlike several years ago and especially after the U.K. was seriously weakened by the global financial crisis.
“Middle-class and affluent Chinese consumers have become the number one foreign buyers on London’s high streets, enjoying greater disposable income, a strong yuan and a weak pound,” says Ken Grant, managing director of FDKG, a consultancy specialising in advice on the Far Eastern luxury market.
The growing demand from Chinese clients has even pushed British realty brokers to study feng shui and understand some of the Chinese cultural bias. For example, a room on the fourth floor probably will never find a Chinese buyer since the number 4 is a taboo — sounds like the Chinese word for death – for Chinese, while 6 and 8 are especially favored because they mean prosperous.