I was in Hong Kong three weeks ago. Canton Road in Kowloon is the main artery where you find all the luxury brands, and to where "mainland" Chinese rush on weekends to take advantage of the price differences between boutiques in Hong Kong and the mainland (30% to 50% depending on products and categories). I was able to take some photographs that make it clear that all brands do not sail in the same boat. Three brands stand out:
Pay honour to whom honour is due: Chanel. With just 7 boutiques (end of 2011) in China, Chanel’s presence on the continent is the most discreet, but among the Chinese it tops the wish-list in terms of intention to purchase in fashion and beauty (according to Bain, 2011). The boutique was full – with a long waiting line outside.
And lastly, Louis Vuitton (38 boutiques at the end of 2011) has fewer people queuing up at its door - but the shop is full ... of Chinese who seem less sophisticated than those standing in line at Chanel or Hermès...
There are no waiting lines at any of the other boutiques: Those of Italian brands are empty. Armani has 107 boutiques in China, Ferragamo has 57, Zegna 56. Dunhill (104 boutiques) and Boss (114 boutiques) are not worth citing – they are all equally empty.
What can we deduce from this quick survey? Simply that luxury brands are now clearly divided into two groups: those that - according to the tenets of luxury – know how to manage their rarity (and believe they should not have more than 40 boutiques in China) and the others... that have become merely masstige brands.