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Rich Chinese are partial to foreign brands
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Big foreign labels such as Chanel and BMW continue to dominate as top brands for wealthy Chinese consumers, with their choices determined mainly by quality and environment factors, a recent survey has found.

The report, released by MasterCard Worldwide on Tuesday, said that brands are important to affluent consumers, with those in Shanghai and Guangzhou placing greater emphasis on brand names compared to their Beijing counterparts.

More favor foreign brands over domestic ones, with 36.3 percent of respondents saying they prefer foreign brands, compared to 19.8 percent who chose up-market domestic brands.

Shanghai has the highest percentage of rich consumers with a preference for domestic brands.

Of factors behind brand preference, 92.7 percent respondents think quality is the most important, 68.3 percent chose brand recognition, 58 percent a fashionable design and 48 percent, whether they are environmentally friendly.

Dr Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, economic advisor of Asia-Pacific of MasterCard Worldwide, said: "In stating their brand preference, the affluent consumers of China demonstrate a high degree of sophistication.

"Their preference for well-known foreign brands is not simply driven by the demand for status symbols as commonly assumed, but real concerns over product quality, design, and environmental considerations."

The study, based on a survey of 1,800 respondents with an annual income exceeding $16,000 in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, identifies the top brands of affluent consumers in key spend categories, such as automobiles, consumer electronics and fashion.

The top 10 auto brands are all foreign, with German auto brands - BMW, Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz on the top.

Among electronics brands, Sony ranks first for cameras, Nokia for mobile phones and Haier for household appliances.

In fashion, Chanel is the most preferred brand, with Giorgio Armani close behind.

While international foreign brands make up the preference in watches, fashion, sportswear and sports footwear, Hong Kong brand Chow Tai Fook emerged top for jewelry, well ahead of second-placed Cartier.

Air China is the dominant brand when it comes to both domestic and international travel, with Singapore Airlines the most preferred international airline.

In wine, 80.7 percent of the respondents think French wine is most preferred, with Chinese brands third after Italian wine and ahead of Spanish, Australian and German wines.

Among Chinese liquor brands, Wuliangye is the top, closely followed by Moutai.

Nearly half the surveyors see Hong Kong as the undisputed shopping destination, followed by mainland cities, Europe and Southeast Asia.

(China Daily February 21, 2008)

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