Have money, will travel - to outer space

By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-01-11 09:01

Not long ago, Chinese embarking on an overseas group tour were considered rich.

But the seriously rich are now in a totally different league.

Of the 660 surveyed - each with at least 10 million yuan ($1.37 million) in personal wealth - 18 per cent are interested in a space tour, and 11.7 percent say that cruising on luxury yachts "would become part of their life".

According to a survey of rich people for the fourth straight year by Hurun Report - complied by Shanghai-based Briton Rupert Hoogewerf - France was the hottest destination in Europe for its romantic allure and the glitz of the Riviera while shoppers' paradise Dubai was the most favored in the Middle East.

The survey also finds that the rich are becoming more selective when it comes to luxury goods.

Listing top-end cars, watches and other luxury products, the report shows they now choose brands that suit them rather than blindly embrace traditional brands of wealth, according to Hoogewerf.

For instance, Remy Martin was the liquor of choice five years ago; now, Royal Salute whisky and Hennessy cognac are just as likely to figure on the list. "I bet that any rich man in the affluent Zhejiang province is more knowledgeable about overseas wine than I," Hoogewerf said.

But some brands remain favorites, such as Rolex and BMW, both topping the most favored list in their categories.

The rich acquired their wealth mainly from the manufacturing, real estate and tertiary industries, with most of them in the 31-45 age group.

Their willingness to splurge appears to stem from their confidence in making money in the future, with more than two in three saying they are bullish in the country's economy growth.

As a result, nearly three in five said they invest aggressively while a quarter said they try to avoid risks.

China's demand for luxury goods accounts for 12 percent of the global market, according to Goldman Sachs. And with an annual 20 percent increase, the Chinese are expected to become the world's largest consumers of luxury goods by 2015.

China is the third biggest market for LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton after the United States and Japan.

LVMH's Louis Vuitton, which recorded an average of 50 percent market increase since its entry into Chinese market 15 years ago, is ranked second on Hoogewerf's list of China's most popular brands, behind BMW cars.

Estimates on the number of the country's super rich vary.

A list by World Entrepreneur magazine this month estimates that China boasts the second largest number of billionaires in the world after the US.

The number of people with more than $1 billion in assets has reached 146, compared to 85 last year, it says.

(China Daily 01/11/2008 page1)

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