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[SINGAPORE] Global luxury brands expanding in China are better off targeting the HENRYs - "high earners, not rich yet" - instead of the ultra-wealthy, as a slowing economy and a government that frowns on official excesses usher in an era of less showy spending.
HENRYs believe less is more. These younger spenders pride themselves on their individualism and snub the ostentatiously branded handbags and accessories loved by the "secretary" types.
Fuelling their shopping habits are social media, multi-brand retail websites such as Beijing-based ShangPin.com and Italy's Yoox, eclectic boutiques, and high-end department stores like Lane Crawford and Galeries Lafayette.
Chinese customers aged 25-35 are Yoox's top spenders, International Markets Director Luca Martines told Reuters, adding that they are willing to mix niche labels with big brands.
Labels considered niche such as Celine and 3.1 Phillip Lim are among the "hottest" sectors, according to a report last week by online luxury magazine Jing Daily, citing branding and marketing experts.
Affordable labels like Tory Burch, Longines and Michael Kors are also in demand, while pricier, more conventional labels including Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Gucci have been hit by a"cold front", the Jing Daily report added.
"The Chinese consumer is now more educated and less conformist, which means they are less inclined to look like a secretary and go for luxury brands that are overdeveloped," said Lionel Roudaut, head of fashion design and textile at Singapore's LASALLE College of the Arts. "The Internet has also given them access to products not available before."