China Confirmed Most Materialistic Country In The World Even As Luxury Spending Slumps To Lowest Level Since 2000

 @SophieXSong on December 17 2013 12:37 PM
  • China Gold Car 2013
    The "gold car" in China. Reuters
  • China Gucci store
    A Gucci Store in China. Reuters
  • China
    A woman shops for handbags at a Chanel luxury boutique at the IFC Mall in Shanghai. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
1 of 3

China’s materialism has been confirmed: 71 percent of Chinese said they gauge their success by the things they own significantly higher than any other nation in the world, a new survey found. But thanks to President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, growth in luxury spending has slowed to the weakest pace since 2000.   

The survey from global research firm IPSOS, conducted across 20 countries, found that 58 percent of Indians measure their success by the things they own, while Turkey, Brazil and South Korea round out the top five on the list.

The Chinese are also most likely to feel a lot of pressure to be successful and make money, as are South Africans, Russians, Indians and people from Turkey.  

By contrast, when asked whether they measure their success by the things they own, only 34 percent of the French -- the global average -- said yes, occupying the seventh place, while Germany occupied the 12th place at 27 percent, the U.S. the 16th at 21 percent, and the Great Britain the 18th at 16 percent. 

But many may be afraid to show their materialism, since the current administration has embarked on a campaign to eradicate corruption and conspicuous consumption since late last year. A new report from Bain & Co. found that China’s luxury spending grew at the slowest pace -- just 2 percent -- since 2000 this year, as more travelers traveled abroad, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

In 2012, growth in the sector was much higher at 7 percent, while growth projected for 2014 should be about on par with 2013, as demand for luxury items from Swiss watches, designer bags and high-end alcohol continues to slump with President Xi’s sustained investigations into graft.

Kering’s (EPA:KER) Gucci sales fell in the third quarter, and LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA (EPA:MC) saw softening demand in perfume and cosmetics during the period, Bloomberg reported.

“China’s luxury market has quickly changed from land-grab to slow, steady strategic focus,” said Bruno Lannes, Bain’s Shanghai-based partner and lead author of the study. “The mindset among global brands here is changing from ‘where do we find growth’ to ‘how do we create growth.’”

China’s rich are also increasingly shopping abroad -- two-thirds of all Chinese luxury item purchases are made overseas, the Bain report said, contributing to a slowdown in store traffic and openings on the mainland.

Despite the slowdown, Chinese consumers have overtaken shoppers in the U.S. to become the world’s largest buyers of personal luxury items, accounting for 29 percent of global purchases, Bloomberg reported. 

Join the Discussion