Why Luxury Companies Need to Court Chinese Students in America

on May 9 2013 | in Lifestyle Trends | by | with No Comments

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Given the astronomical costs of colleges these days, money is tight for most college students. Yet, many international students from China appear not to be affected by this new frugality.

Daisy Zhang, daughter of a provincial Communist Party leader and an undergraduate at Boston University, has become a frequent visitor of luxury brand stores in the city, according to Market Watch. “Whenever I go shopping at Barneys New York or Nordstrom on the weekends, I bump into other Chinese students. Once I went shopping with a friend whose father is an enterprise chairman in Zhejiang province, and she spent nearly $20,000 in just 10 minutes. That was nothing for her,” said Zhang. She also added that some of her Chinese friends had purchased villas and luxury vehicles after coming to the US.

According to the Institute of International Education, 157,588 Chinese students studied in the US during 2011 – 2012, a 23% increase from the previous year. The US now has more international students from China than from any other country in the world. Of course, it’s unfair to say that all Chinese international students are living such a lavish lifestyle. But the elite group, who typically come from affluent families, have provided real market opportunities for schools, real estate brokers, and luxury goods companies.

Companies are stepping in to offer these wealthy Chinese students, who are eager to learn more about the Western luxury brands and lifestyles, premium services and products.

Nihao Media sponsored a series of events for Chinese students who were interested in purchasing condominiums at the W Hollywood Residences in Los Angeles. “It was incredible to see all these students from USC and UCLA who were interested in purchasing property here,” says Catherine Lin, Nihao America’s Editor-in-Chief. The company also organized an event for luxury brands in Manhattan earlier in the year.

There are ample opportunities for luxury brands to connect with wealthy Chinese students and their families while they are in the States. For one, graduation season is upon us. “Studying to enter college was not easy. It was very competitive. Graduation was a big achievement. It is nice to get something special along with the diploma,” explains Ms. Wang.

Besides their ability to spend, one of the major reasons to court these Chinese students — they are influencers. Luxury companies, often, underestimate the significant influence these students have on purchase decisions within their social circle of family, friends, and even acquaintances back home.

Xuan Wang, a recent Fordham graduate, tells her story. “All of my friends and family ask me what they should buy. Many times they ask me to go to the store and buy them products and ship them home. And when they come visit we are always going shopping together – I’m like a personal shopper and translator all in one.”


photo credit: government of alberta

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