Better earning opportunities mean greater spending potential, and with the Chinese concept of face, it is no surprise that Chinese women’s shopping habits are geared toward luxury brands. Indeed, while the greater Chinese population is still resistant to many western concepts and attitudes, the country – the most urbanized areas, in particular – has shown no resistance whatsoever to the consumerism trend.
Most of these career Chinese women can afford such indulgences; some require these luxuries when looking for a mate. While in other consumerist societies (such as the U.S., U.K., and Japan), consumption of luxury goods is driven by income and age, many Chinese consumers, in comparison, are motivated by consumer psychology.
In fact, a 2010 World Luxury Association study on Psychological Trends of Luxury Consumer Behavior on China's Mainland revealed that 70% of young, working/career people in China make luxury purchases for the mere pleasure of owning and being observed to own luxury items. (Source: http://www.womenofchina.com.cn/html/report/1800-1.htm)
The same article quoted Ouyang Kun, World Luxury Association’s representative in China, when he reported that “Since June 2010, Chinese consumers have accounted for 65% of the total consumption of European luxury goods.” It was also reported that in the same year, Chinese traveling to the UK spent 11.2 billion yuan.
China’s trend of consumption of luxury goods, both locally and abroad, indicates that the country will soon become the largest consumer of luxury goods in the world, stripping Japan of the title. Chinese who travel abroad often come back loaded with luxury brand purchases, not just for themselves, but also for family members because they can get them at lower (but still expensive) prices.
In China, investing in real estate property has always been a top priority, especially for those who are looking to start a family; and in a society whose core unit is the family, owning an apartment or a house is not just a necessity but is actually an obligation (especially for Chinese men). But the same study showed that Chinese consumers have also been spending their hard-earned money on many other personal luxury items, such as cars, leather goods, watches, clothing, and perfumes.
There has also been a growing trend of young, working/career Chinese women (and men) who regularly spend beyond their means on luxury brands to earn “face points.” The womenofchina.com’s article, in fact, reported that:
“Luxury brands satisfy the subliminal psychological desire for "face," according to Executive Director of the third executive committee of the China Certified Tax Agents Association Guo Wei. Luxury consumers are hence indifferent to the tax they are obliged to pay－ even when it is as high as 300%－because any amount is worth the face they feel these goods bring them.”
More and more urban Chinese women, especially those who are financially stable, are developing expensive tastes. In addition to requiring a partner to buy/own an apartment or a house, many also prefer a potential mate to own a high-end car. There are those who expect/demand expensive gifts from their boyfriends. For a lot of these women, their motivation is not greed, but the “face” that they want to maintain or gain by having a boyfriend or husband who earns enough to meet their high standard of living.
Most of these women, in fact, are hardworking and successful in their own right; the Chinese concept of face, however, compels them to find a partner with the same or greater earning and spending ability. Consumerism in China has also become entangled in the Chinese tradition of choosing a partner.
What does this all mean for a foreign man who wants a Chinese woman for a wife? Understanding the motivations behind a Chinese woman’s expensive purchasing habits will help him avoid jumping quickly to the conclusion that she is a gold-digger. There are gold-diggers out there, but a foreign man must look deeper and beyond the stereotypes before writing off a Chinese lady as a less than ideal partner.
Some Chinese women’s particular brand of consumerism, pun intended, may make them seem less than ideal candidates; but if a man gives her a chance, he may just discover that she has a lot of great qualities that actually make her a very ideal mate. After all, he also has flaws that his future Chinese wife will have to learn to accept.
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