Motivations for Chinese and Indian consumers to buy luxury brands

Heinemann, George
Glynn, Mark
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

The growth of the Chinese and Indian economies has lead to a growth for luxury brands in these markets. Luxury brands are finding that there are great opportunities to be had in investing and developing their products for these two markets. However relevant literature discussing the relationship these cultures have with luxury brands is sparse. The aim of this piece of research is two-fold. The first is to uncover what motivations Chinese and Indian consumers have for buying luxury brands. The second is to compare the results and to ascertain to what degree they are similar or different. This will allow both researchers and practitioners to understand these markets better, and to make better-informed strategic decisions accordingly. Using a qualitative procedure, ten self-identified Chinese and Indian expatriates were selected for an in-depth interview to explore the attitudes of different facets of luxury brands in their home countries. The conversations underwent analysis using grounded theory. The data was collated into two sets of cultural data, one reflecting Chinese responses, the other Indian responses. These were analyzed separately to one another, then analyzed using the grounded theory process. Global themes arrived at through analysis were the same for both cultures. The global themes arising in luxury purchase motivation reflect an 'effect' that the respondents believe a luxury brand would have upon the consumer. These effects as communicated by both cultures were: functional value, psychological effects (gained through personal and/or interpersonal effects), and status effects. However the concepts that created the same themes between the two countries showed variation. Luxury brand purchase motivations that emerged as concepts shared between the two cultures included: Quality/Superiority, branding, attracts attention, personal empowerment, image enhancement/creation, and status enhancement and assertion. Luxury brand purchase motivations that were exclusively Chinese in this study were: comparative superiority, professional implications, power implications, relationship enhancement, lifestyle enrichment, and gifting. Luxury brand purchase motivations that were exclusively Indian in this study were: Utility, luxury lifestyle, competitiveness, social categorization, cultural status, and comparative superiority. This suggests that when focusing on these two separate cultural groups at a fundamental level, luxury purchase motivations are the same. When focusing on these two cultures in more detail, there different consumer behaviours and attitudes are occurring. This suggests that while the two cultures desire the same core effects arising from luxury brand consumption, the expression of these varies dynamically between the two cultures. Even the data itself showed a difference between the two cultures: where Chinese data was confined and homogeneous and Indian data was multi-faceted and somewhat heterogeneous.

Qualitative , Interview , India , Purchase motivation , China , High-quality consumer goods
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