Wealthy Chinese Shun Louis Vuitton, Gucci as Too Popular

But as LVMH grew in China – there are currently about 38 Louis Vuitton stores there, including in remote areas such as the southern Guangxi autonomous region, compared to the 57 or so in Japan – it lost some of its cachet. “In China, Louis Vuitton is seen as the brand that even your ai-yi, or domestic helper, can afford,” said a retail consultant who declined to be named in order to be candid. When asked to comment, LVMH told Reuters via email it expected to “gain a brand new lead on the market” via a new store set to open next month in Shanghai’s swanky Plaza 66 mall. “The Plaza 66 will confirm Vuitton as the trendsetting brand in China,” the email said. Gucci did not immediately respond to requests for comment. LV remains one of China’s most popular labels – a recent survey by Digital Luxury Group put it at the top of web searches by consumers. But brands such as Chanel and Hermes are catching up fast. A recent study by consultants Bain shows twice as many Chinese now covet Hermes[RMS_FR Loading… () ], creators of the iconic Birkin and Kelly handbags, and the brand is the third most likely to be purchased after Gucci and Louis Vuitton. “Some prefer Hermes because our products are more subtle and not over exposed,” the brand’s China president, Leo Liu, told Reuters in an emailed statement. Some Like It Haute For Gao Jie, 27, a public relations employee who routinely buys luxury goods, Hermes is the ultimate status symbol: their bags are handmade, come in limited quantities, cost anything between $ 9,000 to $150,000 and are generally not within the reach of the general public. Gao says this year she aims to buy a brightly colored Kelly Candy handbag that costs at least four times her monthly salary of 20,000 yuan ($ 3,100). “There are some things that are classic by design and widely recognized by the market. I really hope to one day be able to own all these classic designs,” said Gao, who regularly sets aside some of her salary, and income from investing in stocks, to buy shoes and bags. To attract shoppers like Gao, LVMH and other larger luxury brands are trying to strike the difficult balance between exclusivity and popularity to remain profitable. LVMH is offering customers increasingly expensive and bespoke services to try to retain a mystique around the Louis Vuitton brand, whose creations are seen as being both too common and easily copied. The company is also careful about rolling out new stores, aware that the brand would suffer from too much visibility. Whether these strategies will convince savvy Chinese shoppers like Daisy Liu to carry their LV bags is unclear. “Luxury, embedded in that, is this notion of exclusivity: that not everybody has it. It’s always a fine line that the brands need to tread,” said Torsten Stocker, partner at business strategists


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