With fast-growing wealth at their disposal, the increasing number of super-rich Chinese are bound to buy something expensive.
That explains the emergence of a number of luxury goods exhibitions in Shanghai, China's largest commercial city.
The Top Marques Shanghai 2006 the Most Exclusive Luxury Show, opened yesterday at the Shanghai International Convention Centre after the city hosted at least three similar fairs one after the other this year, including Millionaire Fair, Extravaganza Shanghai and the Top Brand Show.
"Chinese are the most accommodating people in the world. They like to accept new things," said organizer Sheng Lei, managing director of Shanghai Bopai Exhibitions Co Ltd. "This show aims to educate the rich group in what are good luxury items, as well as where and how to buy them."
On the ground floor of the Shanghai International Convention Centre, new brand names make up almost half of the show, which ends on Saturday.
A limited edition Spyker sports car driven by movie star Sharon Stone in "Basic Instinct 2"; a Wiesmann Noble car, whose customers include British football icon David Beckham; and a bankers' favorite Zitura gold watch each costing hundreds of thousands of dollars are making their official debuts in the China market at the show.
The new luxury items also include a Gibson customized guitar, an extreme edition of a Leica camera, a white diamond De Bethune watch worth US$300,000, and a Hastens bed mattress costing 800,000 yuan (US$100,000).
Loyal customers can also find such familiar brands as Ferrari, Porsche and Girard-Perregaux.
And then there's the yacht builder. One spokesman said the time between an order is placed and the boat is delivered can last one or two years.
The yachts sold so far have cost between 30 million yuan (US$3.75 million) and 50 million yuan (US$6.25 million).
A salesperson of Girard-Perregaux watches told China Daily that the luxury brand has sold well in China.
Pointing at a gold watch costing 1.45 million yuan (US$180,000), the salesperson said at least 50 such watches were sold this year.
According to recent research by Cap Gemini and Merrill Lynch, there are at least 236,000 millionaires living in China, based on their wealth figures from last year.
A large proportion of wealthy Chinese choose Shanghai as the place to accumulate their wealth and spend their money.
These millionaires were mostly produced during the 1980s and '90s, thanks to China's reform and opening-up, which created investment and business opportunities in a society that had long been under a planned economic system.
With abundant wealth at their disposal, these people are major customers for luxury goods.
China has become the world's third largest consumer of high-end fashions, accessories and other luxury goods, those items that communicate to consumers an elegant and refined way of living, according to a report released by Ernst & Young.
The report said sales of luxury goods in China account for an estimated 12 percent of global sales for the items, following Japan at 41 percent, the United States with 17 percent and European countries at 16 percent.
The report said the Chinese luxury market currently generates more than US$2 billion in sales a year. It is expected to grow 20 percent annually until 2008 and then 10 percent annually until 2015, when sales are expected to exceed US$11.5 billion. By 2010, China is expected to have a quarter-billion consumers who can afford luxury products, nearly 17 times the present number.
(China Daily October 12, 2006)