LONDON — After several years of slumber, China’s luxury market is finally returning to growth. You would not know that, though, from peering into its — mostly empty — high-end stores.
伦敦——在沉睡了数年之后,中国奢侈品市场终于恢复了增长。虽然光看中国那些几乎空无一人的高端商店,你不会意识到这一点。
Western luxury brands have banked for years on rapid growth in China to drive global profits. The country’s breakneck economic expansion created legions of wealthy consumers keen to flaunt their newfound status. Many traveled overseas, buying high-end handbags and exotic watches in London, Milan, Paris and elsewhere.
多年来,西方的奢侈品牌都在依靠中国快速增长的经济来带动全球利润。中国经济的急剧扩张创造了富裕消费者热衷于炫耀自己新晋地位的种种神话。许多人前往海外旅游,去伦敦、米兰、巴黎等地购买高端手袋和精致的腕表。
But when luxury retailers invested heavily to bolster their marketing and expand their store networks within China, the bet never quite paid off. A slowdown in the Chinese economy, as well as an anti-corruption campaign led by the country’s president, Xi Jinping, left customers less willing to splash large amounts of money.
但是,当奢侈品零售商在中国投入巨资来支持营销、拓展门店网络时,这个赌注从未得到回报。中国的经济放缓以及由中国国家主席习近平领导的反腐败运动让顾客更不愿意挥霍大笔钱财。
That is now changing. Sales of luxury goods in mainland China are forecast to grow by between 20 and 22 percent this year, according to a report by the consulting firm Bain & Company. The authors of the study, one of the most closely watched overviews of the global high-end retail market, predicted that such expansion would drive up growth across the global luxury market by as much as 8 percent.
这一点现在正在改变。根据贝恩咨询公司(Bain & Company)的报告,中国大陆奢侈品销量预计在今年将有20%至22%的增长。该研究是观察全球高端零售市场最受关注的概述之一,研究作者预计,这种扩张将带动全球奢侈品市场最高可达8%的增长。
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On the streets of Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese cities, however, luxury shoppers are hard to find. And that is because the country is increasingly leading a shift in how such shopping is carried out.
然而,在北京、上海和中国其他城市的街头,却很难找到奢侈品购物者。这是因为中国正在逐步推动一种购物方式转变。
Take the Taikoo Li shopping center, regularly touted as proof of the rising power of the Chinese consumer.
以太古里购物中心为例,这个购物中心常被吹捧为中国消费者力量增长的证明。
Its 19 buildings, in one of Beijing’s busiest retail areas, house some of the world’s biggest brands — Versace, Balenciaga and a two-story Apple store that was once pelted with eggs by customers angry over a botched iPhone launch.
在北京这个最为繁忙的零售区内,十九栋大楼里有着世界上最大的品牌:范思哲(Versace)、巴黎世家(Balenciaga),和一座两层楼的苹果(Apple)门店——曾经有一次iPhone开售活动出现意外,导致消费者朝这里扔过鸡蛋。
The sight of would-be buyers in any of those luxury shops, however, is extremely rare. Salespeople have little to do except mill around and stare through the front windows.
但是在这些奢侈品商店中,潜在买家却极其罕见。销售人员除了来回走动或站在窗前眺望之外,几乎无事可做。
由京东送货的Prada包,摄于北京。品牌会提供比如白手套送货员一类的额外服务,以复制出老式的购物体验。
由京东送货的Prada包,摄于北京。品牌会提供比如白手套送货员一类的额外服务,以复制出老式的购物体验。 Giulia Marchi for The New York Times
Instead, customers in China buy their luxury goods from elsewhere — and increasingly online. Whereas groups like LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Kering have traditionally invested heavily in a flawless in-store experience, catering to consumers who want to be pampered and doted upon, Chinese shoppers are typically younger and heavily influenced by social media.
中国的消费者会转而到别处购买奢侈品——并且越来越多地会在网上购买。而比如LVMH和Kering等集团以往会在完美的店内体验上投入大笔资金,迎合那些想要享受众星拱月的服务的消费者。而中国的购物者往往更年轻,深受社交媒体影响。
More and more, they like to spend their money in a digital shopping culture that is distinct from that of Europe and North America, and they are well versed in price differences across the world.
渐渐地,他们愈发喜欢把钱花在网络购物上,这与欧洲和北美的文化有着很大不同。他们也谙熟世界各地的价格差异。
As a result, luxury brands have revised their pricing strategies in China, and have worked to cater to local customers. They communicate with customers via WeChat, a ubiquitous messaging and social media app that is increasingly used as a shopping portal; they work with regional celebrities and “influencers”; and they offer additional services like white-gloved delivery staff to replicate the old-fashioned shopping experience.
因此,奢侈品牌改变了他们在中国的定价策略,并努力迎合当地消费者。他们会通过微信与消费者沟通,这是一款无处不在的消息传送和社交媒体应用,也越来越多地被用作购物门户;他们会与当地的明星和“网红”合作;他们还会提供比如白手套送货员工一类的额外服务,以复制出老式的购物体验。
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“Buyers of luxury in China are young, increasingly fashion-savvy and well aware of the price-value equation,” said the lead author of the study, Claudia D’Arpizio, a Bain partner. According to Ms. D’Arpizio, the strong performance of the mainland China market suggests that luxury brands’ new strategies are bearing fruit.
“奢侈品的中国购买者很年轻,越来越懂时尚,清楚性价比,”该研究主作者、贝恩公司合作伙伴克劳迪娅·达尔皮齐奥(Claudia D’Arpizio)说。根据达尔皮齐奥的说法,中国大陆市场的强劲表现表明奢侈品的新策略取得了成果。
“The Chinese are accelerating the shift of the luxury industry to a more millennial state of mind,” she added, “and are responsible for much of the sales growth we have seen so far this year.”
“中国人正在让奢侈品行业的思维方式加速向千禧一代转变,”她补充道,“并且这占了我们今年所见销量增长的一大部分。”
Growth in the luxury market in China has also been helped by the government in Beijing.
中国奢侈品市场的增长也有北京政府的帮助。
When authorities enacted capital controls in late 2016, making it harder to move money overseas, many Chinese looked for ways of spending at home.
2016年末,政府实施了资本管制,使人们更难将资金转移到海外,许多中国人在国内寻找新的花钱方式。
The government has also cracked down on the “daigou” industry, in which shopping agents help consumers buy goods overseas for a fee, while import tariffs on almost 200 consumer goods categories were cut in December, lowering prices for everything from cashmere to cosmetics.
政府也打击了以一定费用替消费者在海外购物的“代购”行业,同时,将近200种消费品分类的进口关税也在12月得到削减,降低了从羊绒制品到化妆品的各类商品价格。
“After a period where many mainland Chinese shoppers traveled to Europe to make their purchases in the search of better deals, the tide has turned, and more and more now choose to buy online or in foreign locations closer to home like Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea,” Ms. D’Arpizio said.
“许多大陆购买者前往欧洲购物,以更实惠的价格买到商品的时期过去了,潮流已经变了,现在有越来越多的人选择在网上购物,或是比如香港、日本和韩国这样离家更近的境外地点。”达尔皮齐奥说。
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Over all, that growth in China is helping the global luxury market regain its luster. That is evident in earnings reports. Major players like LVMH have posted glowing earnings reports this year, with overall sales volume rather than price increases driving market growth.
总而言之,中国的增长正在帮助全球奢侈品市场重拾光彩。这在收益报告中很明显。如LVMH这些大公司本年发布的财报,状况非常好,是总体销售额而非价格上涨推动了市场增长。
Aside from China, bright spots cited in the Bain report for this year included the United States, where a weaker dollar should lift sales to tourists, and Asian markets excluding China, where sales figures are expected to grow by between 9 to 11 percent.
除了中国,贝恩今年的报告中还有几个亮点,包括美国——走弱的美元会提升对游客的销售额,还有中国以外的亚洲市场,销售数字预计会有9%到11%的增长。
The only major region expected to struggle is Europe, where a stronger euro is expected to weigh heavily on luxury sales, particularly to tourists.
唯一一个可能会遇到困难的主要地区是欧洲,走强的欧元将对奢侈品产生重大影响,尤其是对游客来说。
As in China, though, the key for luxury brands will be targeting younger, tech-savvy shoppers, according to Bain.
不过,根据贝恩公司的说法,和中国一样,奢侈品牌的成功关键在于瞄准更年轻、善用科技的购物者。
“Customers are responding to targeted strategies,” said Federica Levato, a Bain partner and the report’s co-author. “The best performing brands are already winning over the customers of tomorrow.”
“消费者正在对有针对性的策略作出回应,”该研究共同作者、贝恩公司合作伙伴费代丽卡·莱瓦托(Federica Levato)说。“表现最好的品牌已经赢得了明天的客户。”