BEIJING -- Studying in Germany, 21-year-old Zheng Xiaocheng has acquired a taste for famous international brands, including BMW automobiles. "I sometimes buy luxury goods, such as Louis Vitton and Gucci bags," Cheng said, adding that he will pay at most 10,000 yuan (about $1,577) for such items, as he still lives on his parents' income.
Luxury-purchasing consumers are getting younger in China, with the average age of the youngest group of luxury consumers dropping from 35 to 25 from 2007 to 2010, according to a survey by the World Luxury Association, a non-governmental organization.
After decades of economic development, younger generations have far greater material wealth than older people, which has resulted in new social problems, said Zhou Ting, executive director of the Luxury Goods Research Center under the Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics.
"Luxury items have created a high-end market for China that can promote related industries, create employment and raise fiscal income for the country," Zhou said. "But young Chinese have not been so sensible in consuming top brands."
Shi Yuzhou, a senior college student studying in the US, said other university students have exhibited an enthusiasm for luxury goods.
"I like to buy perfume and bags from renowned brands and spend even more money when choosing presents for my friends," Shi said.
"I think luxury items do, to some degree, reflect my high-end taste," Shi said. "The value of luxury items lies not in their durability, but their style. And they make decent gifts."
Zhou said conspicuous consumption is the greatest motivation for young people to buy high-end goods, a factor that is promoted by the brands themselves.
However, the social problems created by conspicuous consumption lie not in the goods themselves, but in the pattern of consumption, Zhou said.
"Although consumers of lower ages are emerging, China still has a mainstream consumer group made up of middle-aged people, who have solid economic foundations and their own tastes," Zhou said.
Although many young Chinese have acquired a taste for high-end goods while abroad, many returning students said they are not eager to buy such products after returning home.
Qu Peiran, a public relations officer in Beijing, said she bought several expensive handbags while studying in the UK, adding that she seldom purchases such items at home.
Although online shopping has made it easier to buy luxury items from abroad, Qu said she is uneasy about spending such large quantities of money online.
Courtesy China Daily
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