Will luxury fashion be “sustainable” in China

Luxury brands are taking on sustainability as a marketing tool. European consumers of luxury are demanding greater transparency on sourcing and labour rights even of luxury goods. As European markets stagnate, luxury brands are active in emerging markets for new sales. What are the prospects for these markets to demand sustainability?

This theme was discussed at a presentation by Marisa Guntlisberger of Branders Group at the Sustainable Luxury Forum today in Geneva. She identified four “antecedents” for China to follow the sustainability trend in luxury. These are:

  • Pollution is making people suffer and thus want environmental performance improvements
  • due to Western pressure on China, there is greater citizen attention to ethics
  • growing “identity seeking” is leading to greater segmentation in the market
  • traditional values (Tao) emphasise environmental stewardship

These four points are predictors of future value shifts by Chinese consumers. In the short term, the presenter saw the way forward as making sustainability “aspirational” for consumers. In the long term, target the “identity seeking” consumer.

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