Retail in Asia


Get to know the new Asian consumers of 2023

Asia’s leading brand distributor and operator Bluebell Group has released the third volume of its Asia Lifestyle Consumer Profile

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Based on a survey that polled 1,765 premium lifestyle consumers across six markets, namely Hong Kong, Japan, Mainland China, Southeast Asia (Singapore and Malaysia), South Korea, and Taiwan, the study found insights into evolving consumer sentiment and trends across premium and luxury segments including fashion, beauty, fragrance, jewellery and watches. 

Three core trends have emerged, according to the report. 

‘Safe’ luxury

Respondents expressed a resurgence of ‘traditional’ attitudes toward luxury, from viewing luxury as a status symbol, to expectations on service. 

“During the pandemic, premium and luxury brands focused resources toward nurturing consumer relationships in new and innovative ways, through one-on-one interactions and other tailored retail solutions,” said Bluebell Group president and chief executive officer Ashley Micklewright. 

“Going forward, we see consumers continue to expect this heightened level of service excellence, which is particular to Asia.” 

Source: The Bluebell Group

Luxury and status remain inseparable in the minds of Asian consumers in 2023, especially in Mainland China (94 percent). Southeast Asia and Japan saw high growths in consumers who view traditional luxury branded items as status symbols.

At the same time, support for local brands has grown across China (+5 percent), SEA (+14 percent), Korea (+13 percent) and Taiwan (+1 percent), where consumers said they would support up-and-coming local premium brands. 

The ‘feel good’ value shift

Today’s Asian consumers aren’t only focused on making up for lost time; instead, they are pursuing more sustainable, ethical, and natural options. 

“While we see a strong ‘revenge living’ mentality, consumers appear to consider ethical and sustainable values as important components in the pleasure of purchasing premium and luxury products,” said Anne Geronimi, group communication and sustainability director, Bluebell Group. 

Interest in ‘natural choice’ brands rose in SEA (+6 percent), Mainland China (+4 percent) and Korea (+3 percent). In all markets except for Japan, over 85 percent of respondents agree that they now prefer to buy those more ‘natural’ choice brands, be it in their ingredients or fabric. 

More widespread yet is the year-on-year growth in consumers who attach importance to brands’ ethics and values (above right) – a growth led by Japan (+15 percent, from 62 percent to 77 percent) and SEA (+8 percent, from 83 percent to 91 percent). 

Domestic and regional travel appeal

Despite reopened borders in 2023, Chinese and Japanese consumers are still drawn to local destinations. 

Source: Unsplash

Chinese travellers said they planned to spend most on shopping abroad and at home, while those from the rest of Asia prefer to spend on experiences such as F&B, spas, and concerts. 

Chinese consumers are most likely to spend on luxury fashion (44 percent), beauty & skincare (44 percent) and jewellery & watches (41 percent) during domestic travel.

“Travel and spending intent is good news for domestic destinations like Hainan in China, which invested heavily in the island’s infrastructure to cater to both consumer experiences and shopping offering during the pandemic” said Samy Redjeb, Greater China managing director, Bluebell Group. 

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In contrast, spending intent during international travel is topped by luxury fashion, ranking first among consumers from Japan (67 percent), Korea (54 percent) and Taiwan (61 percent). 

Experiences such as F&B, spa, and concerts rank second overall in Asia, and top the ranking for consumers from Hong Kong (64 percent). 

Retail in Asia is part of the Bluebell Group.