While the wealthy from the West enjoy loyalty rewards from luxury companies, their Chinese counterparts care more about having their status recognized, says Franklin Yao of the consultancy SmithStreet. To that end, Hong Kong jeweler Chow Tai Fook (CTF), recently transformed the ballroom of the Hong Kong Grand Hayatt Hotel into a Parisian salon for its best customers – a not-too-unusual stunt for luxury companies looking to placate top buyers.
CTF offers special favors to those customers who spend over $158,000 a year on their pieces. Most of them come from the provinces in and around Beijing – those “closer to money and power” according to Adrian Cheng, an executive director at the firm.
Even in provincial cities like Kunming, the rich routinely expect luxury shops to pamper them with cocktails and massages, says Francis Phua of DKSH, a consultancy. However, in the country with over a million millionaires, it’s becoming quite difficult to offer preferential treatment to the country’s many big spenders. The trend has led to the emergence of “VVIPS”, and CTF has taken theirs to Paris Fashion Week, on helicopter tours and rare-wine tastings.
China is the second-largest jewelry market after America and the second-largest gold market after India. One third of the global sales of Prada and Gucci come from China. And a new report from stockbroker CSLA projects that half of this year’s growth in luxury goods will come from China, where sales are set to soar by 24% in 2012.
According to Cheng, for these super-rich Chinese, an invitation to a lavish weekend is not enough. They expect a personal butler to fetch them and fuss over them. And at the moment nothing is too good for his very best customers.
image credit: grand hyatt hong kong