China loves Chanel. It has the highest brand awareness among wealthy Chinese, far ahead of Dior, Hermes, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Chanel is also the most-purchased luxury brand by legions of rich Chinese, according to a study by Bomoda, a research firm that focuses on Chinese consumers.
The report was derived from a survey of 2,268 luxury Chinese consumers who had on average either purchased or received at least two luxury-branded items in the last year.
According to the report, 41% of the affluent bought Chanel products frequently, compared to 32% for second place Dior, while 46% said they would like to purchase more Chanel items in the future.
So why Chanel rather than, say, Hermes or Vuitton? Brian Buchwald of Bomoda suggests Chanel’s appeal is because the French design house has “invested very seriously in advertising and retail.” Chanel also lures customers using “websites with strong social media” and celebrity promotions, “leveraging Chinese celebrities [and] Western celebrities who are well-known to the Chinese.”
The Chinese are “growing at a pace far surpassing expectations, [and] spending by Chinese consumers on luxury products now exceeds that of any other country,” according to corporate consulting firm McKinsey & Company. This means that some Chinese are generating greater amounts of disposable income, and because a high-end company like Chanel is universally understood to be the ultimate status symbol, buying the name — and buying into its perceived lifestyle — is a way for some Chinese to display their wealth.
According to the McKinsey report, one way Chanel courts the wealthy begins with sales reps’ calls to female customers informing them that new products that might appeal to them are newly available. Upon going to the boutique, the customer is taken to a VIP room that contains desserts decorated with the Chanel logo. While she looks over the new products in the VIP room, her child is looked after by employees. Presto, the woman ends up buying two Chanel bags and a dress because of the attentive service.
Ultimately, it’s keeping up Chanel’s appeal as something to strive for that makes the company desirable. According to Erwan Rambourg’s book, “The Bling Dynasty: Why the Reign of Chinese Luxury Shoppers Has Only Just Begun,” “brands that become too accessible are less appealing to super rich buyers.”
The most recent , released earlier this year, found that only one luxury brand beat Chanel as the top choice for gifting among wealthy Chinese women: Apple.