updated 19 May 2012, 09:09
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What's in a Label?

There has been much written about the increased spending power of Asian consumers, in addition to their penchant for fashion and brand names, many of which have launched or expanded in Asian markets over the last decade.

Now there is evidence that not only are people in India and China more brand-conscious than their counterparts in Europe and the U.S. - they also are quite open in their passion for brand names in the context of fashion.

In fact, almost three-quarters of adults in China (72%) and in India (74%) admit that brand names are important to them when purchasing clothing and accessories, compared to just one-quarter in the U.S. (26%), Great Britain (24%), and even in the country known as the world's fashion haven - Italy (28%)!

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll conducted online by Harris Interactive among 9,222 adults in Singapore, Hong Kong, China and India (June 1 and 10, 2011), the U.S (May 24 and 26, 2011) and Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Italy (May 25 and June 1, 2011).

Trendy vs. Classic

There are indications that in certain markets purchasing classics is more important than being trendy. 74% of Americans tend to purchase classics versus trends; a practice which is shared among adults in China (71%), India (70%), France (60%), the UK (58%), Germany and Italy (57% each).

However, in China and India, 63% indicate that they "like to be the first out of their friends to have the latest trend" whereas a quarter or fewer in all the other countries agree (between 9% and 24%).

In most of the markets studied there is a strong belief that good brand names translate to quality products; 9 in 10 adults in India (89%) and China (92%) believe that brand names provide better value due to quality, a thought shared by majorities in Singapore (75%), the U.S. (65%), Italy (63%), and France (53%) as well. However, in Spain (41%), Great Britain (48%) and Germany (47%), fewer than half think this is the case.

In Singapore (77%), India (72%), Great Britain (68%), the U.S. (66%), Spain (65%) Italy (64%) and Germany (63%)there is also a fondness for bargains, even if they are not brand names "as long as it is trendy."

In Singapore where shopping is a national pastime - and on the heels of the Great Singapore Sale - 41% report the main reason for their last purchase as "I was just browsing and it caught my eye."

One in five adults in Singapore said they made their most recent purchase because "it was on sale and I just couldn't resist a bargain."

Brands of What Exactly?

In Europe, branding is important when it comes to cosmetics and fragrances. In France 61% indicate that brands are important in for cosmetics and fragrances and many adults in the UK (46%), Italy (61%), Spain (48%)and Germany (41%) say the same. In Italy and Spain majority said brand names are important for sunglasses(60% and 52%, respectively).

In China and India, brands of watches are important, with 83% in China and 87% in India indicating this. 79% in China indicate that jewelry brands are important yet only one in five in France (22%), the U.S. (20%) and Germany (19%) agree.

In terms of their most recent clothing purchases, Indians were most likely to have made their recent purchase for a specific occasion, with 25% indicating this, which is not surprising given the number of family events, weddings and celebrations that their country is known for.

Adults in India also indicate that brand names are important for formal wear, with 79% saying so.

So What?

While brand names may always be important, there are different values associated with these recognizable labels depending on the culture. Majorities in many countries agree that brand names are generally good quality, but in some places trendiness and the love of a bargain can trump the benefits of a well-known label.

In markets like China and India, conveying an interest in brand names is paramount, especially when it comes to status symbols like formal wear for a wedding or a shiny watch. With the growing buying power of consumers in these markets it will be important for brands to continue to tailor their products to appeal to their consumers' specific cultural values and beliefs.

Source: Harris Interactive

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