Asian Luxury Consumers are diverse

However convenient it may be for luxury brand marketers to treat the world as one market, they would achieve more success if they recognise consumers in Asia buy for different reasons than in the West, according to a new study. Paurav Shukla, professor of luxury brand marketing at Glasgow Caledonian University, led field research that explored the views of 900 luxury consumers in China, India, Indonesia and the UK.

Writing in The Conversation, an independent online academic portal, Prof Shukla emphasised that luxury brands must consider the diversity of individual markets when drawing up their marketing strategies. Indian luxury consumers, for example, are particularly influenced by what others think of them and consume to achieve societal acceptance, he said.

They use luxury brands to indicate social status, symbolising achievement, wealth and prestige while much of their purchase decisions are rooted in group decisions. By contrast, Prof Shukla said, Indonesian culture revolves around how you judge yourself, not how others see you. He said consumers will not follow the recommendations of others if their choice is unappealing.

Meanwhile, in China, the research indicated that consumers there place a very high value on the quality that luxury brands represent. Despite the well-publicised government crackdown on luxury gift-giving, Chinese consumers are willing to pay a premium in order to obtain that quality.

Partly because of the approach being taken by the Chinese authorities over luxury goods, Shukla recommended that brands adopt a subtle approach in their bid to appeal to consumers there.

“Connecting the idea of buying luxury brands with personal identity and pleasure may be the best strategy,” he advised.

However, in Indonesia, he said it would be better “to customise the sales pitch to include some emphasis on how a brand could enhance a consumer’s sense of self and make them feel good about themselves”. A focus on the experiential aspects of buying and using a luxury brand would also help.

Finally, consumers in India – rather like their counterparts in the UK – care more about what others think of their purchases, so effective communications there should highlight a luxury brand’s social acceptability as well as its connection to achievement, prestige and wealth.