Luxury Market In China A Mixed Bag For Foreign Brands, Who Fight To Get Customers To Buy Inside China Rather Than Traveling Overseas
Although Beijing and Shanghai are China's "crown jewels," second-tier cities like Chongqing may ultimately prove the engines for the creation of a more comprehensive Chinese consumer culture
We’ve discussed recent reports on the rebound of the Chinese luxury market (which didn’t drop that much to begin with, despite global economic woes), and this year’s findings in McKinsey & Company’s Insights China report that China is rocketing towards the top of the list of the world’s biggest luxury markets. Although China remains one of the only bright spots in the world of luxury retailing at the moment, foreign luxury brands — despite rapid growth in the mainland market — often have difficulties convincing many of the country’s highest-potential customers (the wealthy and super-rich urbanites in top-tier cities) to buy their products within the mainland, strangely enough, because of the large luxury tax China levies on high-priced imported goods.
Possibly to combat this problem, as we’ve seen this year, many companies are looking towards second- and third-tier cities as a source of future growth, and perhaps leaving the top-tier cities alone and letting their Beijing or Shanghai boutiques function only as “showrooms” for ultra-rich customers who’ll simply buy the products on their next overseas or Hong Kong/Macau trip. In these smaller urban areas, middle- and upper-middle class customers, who still want to differentiate themselves through conspicuous consumption but are most certainly not part of the economic elite, could be the key for luxury brands who want their China locations to actually sell things rather than simply show them off like a real-life catalog. Middle- and upper-middle class urban professionals in cities like Xi’an, Qingdao, Nanjing and Chongqing — who make a decent living but can’t afford to fly to Hong Kong or Macau (let alone Paris or Tokyo) for luxury shopping sprees — are likely going to buoy luxury brands’ losses in top coastal cities.
Posted in Business, China, Economy, Investment, Luxury
Tagged beijing, China, hong kong, import, London, Luxury, luxury society, macau, Paris, retail, ruder finn, second-tier, shanghai, spending, tokyo
Astronomical Prices Paid For Historical And Quality Pieces In Recent Asian Auctions Defies Global Economic Woes As More Chinese Collectors Get In The Game
Since good works by historical artists like Yue Minjun are becoming more scarce, Chinese collectors are expected to continue to flex their muscles in upcoming auctions of Chinese contemporary art
Hardly any industry has escaped the global economic slowdown unscathed, and art is no exception, but recent auction results indicate that the art market — or at least pockets of the art market — are coming back to life. As the Wall Street Journal reports today, in some recent auctions some pieces have sold for exponentially more than their estimates, surprising collectors and market analysts alike. The common bond shared by most of these pieces? They were Chinese — or, if not Chinese, Asian:
Last week, the longest string of Asian art sales since the Zodiac clock dispute was held in the U.S.—and amid the most entrenched art-market recession in nearly two decades, the auction prices of many more than a handful of pieces went through the roof. At the Sotheby’s sale of works from the collection of Arthur M. Sackler, for example, the auctioneer sang out fast-rising numbers, first in English, then Chinese, as if he were rising in the elevator of some fantastically tall Hong Kong skyscraper.
The emergence of the New Chinese Collector is a subject we’ve followed pretty much since our inception, and is a subject that is endlessly fascinating simply because it’s such a new phenomenon. While, technically, Chinese people have collected art for a few thousand years — with the exception of a few Mao-era decades where the practice was virtually nonexistent but for a few elite art lovers here and there — the New Chinese Collector has only existed for around 20 years, and arguably even less than that. This collector base was out in full force in recent auctions of Chinese and other Asian art — in New York, London and Hong Kong — and the motivation, desire and intensity of the Chinese collector is becoming somewhat legendary right before our eyes.
Posted in Art, auction, Business, China, Chinese Art, Culture, Economy, Investment, Museums
Tagged ai weiwei, alexandra peers, art collectors, asia, asia week, asian, bronze, China, chinese, Chinese Art, chinese art collectors, chinese contemporary art, collector, contemporary chinese art, east asia, Economics, globalization, hai bo, hong kong, Investment, j. paul getty museum, London, Luxury, moma, new chinese collector, New York, phillips de pury, qing dynasty, sackler, sotheby's, wall street journal, wealth, yue minjun, zhou dynasty, zodiac
Unlikely Collectors In Far-Flung Rural Areas Gaining Notoriety For Massive Antiques Spending Sprees
More than 1,000 collectors took part in the Taiyuan antiques fair, held in north China's Shanxi Province. Image © CCTV
We have written several times before about the growing role of Chinese art collectors in a number of art classes, from Chinese antiquities to contemporary Chinese art, and as the global downturn affects the buying and collecting habits of more established collectors, antiques dealers from Hong Kong, the UK and the US have flocked to new “fairs” in mainland China, where “coal tycoons” — often unassuming (but sometimes ostentatious) individuals who have built vast fortunes on the rural provinces’ coal deposits — are quickly becoming a major collector base. As Le-Min Lim writes for Bloomberg, this new collector base has rapidly becoming one of the most motivated (and willing to spend top dollar) of all global antiques buyers.
While Westerners still dominate the most-expensive segment of this market at auction, they are increasingly being challenged by buyers from mainland China, according to John Berwald, of New York-based dealership Berwald Oriental Art.
Christie’s says Americans are its biggest clients in this category of art, followed by mainland Chinese and Hong Kongers. While Shanxi buyers are new to the international art-trading scene compared with their Beijing and Shanghai peers, they are gaining a name as some of China’s fiercest bidders.
“They are a force to reckon with, no doubt about it,” said Kevin Ching, chief executive of Sotheby’s Asia, who attended the Taiyuan fair. On paper, Shanxi buyers formally accounted for just $4 million of Sotheby’s Chinese antiques at its Hong Kong auctions, though the actual figure is much larger because many bid through agents in the city, he said, declining to give specifics.
There are about 51,000 people in China who have 100 million yuan or more, according to Hurun’s latest China rich list, released in April. Of these, 1,050 are in Shanxi. The actual number of rich individuals in the province is probably more than twice the number on the list, said Rupert Hoogewerf, publisher of Hurun Report, which compiles China’s rich list.
Posted in Art, auction, China, Chinese Art, Culture, Investment
Tagged antiques, bloomberg, China, Chinese Art, collecting, contemporary chinese art, Culture, hong kong, London, New York, Paris, sotheby's
Bar, Part Of Dunhill Flagship Store At Plaza 66, Extends Dunhill’s British Style And Traditional Atmosphere
The Aquarium by Kee in Plaza 66, Photo © Shanghai Daily
Plaza 66, a sprawling office and mall complex in Shanghai’s Jing’an District, recently unveiled the new Aquarium by Kee bar, part of the Alfred Dunhill flagship store. Designed to be an after-work sanctuary for the area’s businesspeople, the 40-seat bar extends Dunhill’s sophisticated style to every aspect of its decor as well as its drinks list.Unique marketing efforts like this are nothing new to Dunhill’s China operations, which last year built the world’s fourth Alfred Dunhill “Home” in Shanghai, following London, Paris, and Tokyo. These “Homes” are designed to represent the sort of lifestyle promoted by Dunhill (as well as their products), and function as private clubs that, as Dunhill CCO Sven Gaede said, “are not just retail environments, but will also incorporate ancillary services such as a club, restaurant, spa, and barber shop, as well as bespoke tailor services and Bentley chauffeur services.”
In Shanghai, Dunhill is extending their exclusive marketing tack to appeal to many (primarily male) luxury buyers’ desire for “sanctuaries.” With few places remaining in this bustling city to have a calm drink or relax among other businesspeople, Dunhill is basically importing the old British model of the men’s club to Shanghai, where China has always had its own versions of this. Mixing them together — and throwing retail into the mix — Dunhill is scoring what I would consider a marketing coup. Brand-Lifestyle tie-ins have become incredibly successful in Asia in recent years (Just look at the “Passion for Creation” exhibition in Hong Kong), and Dunhill’s male-centric strategy will probably pay dividends. Their brand is already well-established in China among middle-aged luxury consumers, so they have to go beyond simple brand-building to brand sustainability and flexibility — what works in Shanghai may not work in Beijing or Chongqing.
Posted in Art, Business, China, Culture, Fashion, Investment, Luxury
Tagged alfred dunhill, asia, China, Culture, dunhill, ginza, hong kong, jing'an, London, louis vuitton, Luxury, LV, Paris, passion for creation, plaza 66, shanghai, sven gaede, tokyo
Runaway Success Of HK 09 Proves That The Chinese Dragon Has Woken Up To Contemporary Art
Contemporary Chinese artist Jian'an Shi's pieces were some of the highlights of the HK 09 Art Festival
Joyce Lau writes today in the New York Times that the HK 09 International Art Festival, which took place over the weekend, illustrated better than most art fairs the vibrant arts culture that exists in Hong Kong. The fair, writes Lau, indicates what many Hong Kong watchers have always known, that the city is a magnet for the arts, luxury goods, business, media, and cuisine. With this unique mix of cultures both traditional and transitional, Hong Kong is vying to be the 21st century equivalent of Tokyo in the 1960s or New York or London before that.
For all attendees, the HK 09 Festival illustrated what Lau calls the city’s “quest to become a global hub for luxury goods.” With its proximity to the Mainland, and the increasing ease of travel for Mainland Chinese to Hong Kong (along with the perennial ease for their Hong Kong counterparts), the blending of Hong Kong’s kinetic cultural melting pot with the Mainland’s ever-changing spirit makes this region a must-see for anyone interested in Asia’s unique, exciting energy.
Posted in Art, China, Chinese Art, Culture, Investment, Luxury, Museums
Tagged Art, asia, asia art archive, asian auction week, China, chinese, contemporary art, damien hirst, festival, HK 09, hong kong, konstantin bessmertny, lin xue, London, macao, magnus renfrew, mainland, New York, seoul, simon birch, taipei, tokyo, tracey emin, white cube, wu jian'an, xinning shi, xu bing, zhang ding
Organizers Looking To Make Annual HK Festival Asia’s Answer To Art Basel, Frieze As Local Collector Base Grows
The Hong Kong International Art Fair is rapidly becoming a major annual destination for art lovers, collectors, galleries, and museums
Hong Kong’s large-scale HK 09 International Art Fair, which we profiled last week, is off to a successful start. As James Pomfret writes, the “burgeoning international art fair…aimed at tapping Asia’s growing pool of contemporary art collectors has shown positive signs of shrugging off the global economic downturn.”
New collectors from the mainland, as well as Western and other East Asian collectors, are taking to the festival’s auctions, held by Western and Asian auction houses, to snatch up works during one of the best buyers’ markets in recent history. As Pomfret goes on to indicate, the organizers of HK 09 are looking to establish the festival as Asia’s answer to the Western art fairs like Art Basel in Switzerland and Frieze in London:
Posted in Art, Business, China, Chinese Art, Culture, Economy, Investment, Museums
Tagged Art, art basel, art collectors, art festival, asia, auction, cai guo-qiang, cai guoqiang, China, Chinese Art, chinese contemporary art, contemporary art, damien hirst, frieze, gagosian gallery, gilbert & george, HK, HK 09, hong kong, james pomfret, jin young yu, julian opie, London, magnus renfrew, reuters, switzerland, white cube, yang shaobin
Stock Fluctuations Lead Investors To Continue Searching For Diversity: Gold, Diamonds, Art, And Wine
Diamond and gold producers and contemporary art and wine auction houses are increasingly targeting Chinese investors and sovereign wealth funds
Today’s Financial Times has a feature on investors who are turning to traditional hedges against stock market turbulence, and the way major diamond producers like DeBeers are ratcheting up their marketing and outreach efforts to get these people’s attention. Although diamonds fell mainly out of favor in recent years in many developed countries due to their sometimes controversial nature, diamond consortia have seen their fortunes turn around rapidly as they increased their foothold in emerging markets like Russia and China.
Posted in Art, Automobile, Business, China, Chinese Art, Currency, Economics, Economy, Investment, Luxury
Tagged Art, auction, China, contemporary art, debeers, diamond, diamonds, finance, foreign investment, gold, hedge, india, Investment, investor, London, RMB, russia, sovereign wealth fund, wealth
London Takes #1 Spot As China Rapidly Approaches Second Place
Gang Zhao, There is an America, 2007
Artinfo points out today that New York has lost its top spot in art auction sales to London. With the pain of the financial crisis biting wallets and disappointing November sales, New York has seen its traditional lead on London dissipate in 2008. Some may not be surprised by this, given London’s advantage of hosting Damien Hirst’s one-man auction, but what is more of a surprise is China overtaking France for the third-place spot. With auctions in China continuing to do well even during the financial crisis, New York and London are firmly within the China auction market’s sights.
Posted in Art, China, Chinese Art, Culture, Investment
Tagged Art, auctions, China, chinese, Chinese Art, contemporary art, france, London, New York, Paris