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Chinese Luxury E-Commerce: Not Just For the Super-Rich

China E-Commerce LuxuryE-Commerce and the e-tailing scene in China is exploding, expanding new horizons for luxury goods. Taobao Marketplace, an e-commerce site online owned by Alibaba, is reporting a 100% increase in sales yearly over a range of high-end and luxury goods (via Jing Daily). E-Commerce is helping to contribute to the overall growth of Chinese luxury market, anticipated to be the world’s largest at 20% by 2015.

Significantly, however, while China’s super rich have traditionally made the most luxury goods purchases, e-commerce allows households of all incomes to browse, compare, and purchase luxury goods at discounted prices. China’s super rich may still check out at the traditional shopping mall, a growing base of Chinese shoppers is purchasing their luxury items online.

Who’s buying?

This access to goods and information is developing a new base of “aspirational” shoppers, or lower-income shoppers with high-end taste. 26% of lower-income buyers, 26% of middle-income buyers, and 33% of high-income buyers expect luxury goods to cost less online, according to a Forbes-cited report from Forrester research.

McKinsey reports that while affluent Chinese consumers still hold most purchases, middle class households have the most growth potential for luxury goods marketers. Middle class purchases currently account for 12% of sales, reaching 22% by 2015.

Females consumers are propelling this growth; they account for 70% of online luxury goods purchasers on Taobao, a significant statistic for marketers.

Urban, white-collar workers make up the majority of purchasers. 80% of online luxury purchasers hold an undergraduate degree; 13% hold graduate degrees.

The takeaway message for marketers foreign and domestic? Appeal to your white-collar female base–but don’t forget the affluent community that helped build your brand in the first place. Educate and utilize social media networks to build user loyalty and to help reinforce trustworthiness for your brand.

Ginny Tonkin is a blogger and digital communications professional, most previously as a digital content producer for She is passionate about exploring Asia and social media, and anytime those two intersect.

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