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Chinese are definitely materialistic - the large majority. aliensteve makes good points above. The average person can't afford the high-end luxury goods, which is why there are so many people here who copy them and sell fakes. I'll bet 90% of the Luis Vitton bags you see women carrying in this country are fake. What does that say? -That they're frugal and buy fakes to save money? NO. They're materialistic and want people to THINK they own a real LV bag. I know a woman whose husband bought her an authentic LV purse for nearly 8k RMB. It was a nice purse, however it did not have any identifiable markings to show it was an LV purse. What did she do? She returned it and got one with LVLVLVLVLVLVLVLVL all over it. Too funny... Now people will assume it's fake. :-)
Feb 28, 2013 09:55 Report Abuse
I agree with aliensteve. I just want to add that LV bags and Rolex watches are status SYMBOLS, symbols of economic success. I found that Chinese people always compare themselves and seem to be very "socially competitive". Nowadays, the Chinese middle and higher class seem to look down at those that are not so affluent. Many friends of mine say they feel "social pressure" to buy that, wear this, or own the other. The younger the people, the more materialistic. The lower the education, the more showy. Similar traits are trending in Western countries too (especially among young people), but to a less extent than China. I hope materialism will be just a temporary fad and wish that the society will soon rediscover the importance of traditional values.
Feb 28, 2013 05:08 Report Abuse
A person who is materialistic is defined as one who is excessively concerned with physical comforts or the acquisition of material things rather than spiritual, intellectual, moral, or cultural values. Thus, it doesn't always mean that the rich is materialistic and the poor isn't. Often it is the person of lesser means that is concerned with material things, possibly branded goods that he or she can't afford, hence, the desire to acquire them, creating the market for fake Gucci or LV products and the like so he or she can have a showy display of one's means of life. Generally, we see most Chinese nationals are concerned with acquiring riches and flaunting "branded" goods. I had a friend who is a just a stall operator and she got herself a genuine Rolex watch and all for a showy display of her little "means". All day long I would hear her boastful talks of material stuff. I don't even understand why she needs to show how "rich" she is by buying that Rolex watch when she can't even afford a car and renting an apartment with her family. so being materialistic and rich are two different things, they are not the same.
Feb 27, 2013 18:35 Report Abuse
Put face and a lack of free or logical thought together and it's a marketers' perfect storm. It is hard to work out how a person spends such a high proportion of their available income on a gadget or luxury car. Well you can even forget the luxury when speaking of cars. I know plenty who have purchased one even when they take far longer to drive to where they are going than the cheap and very convenient metro systems. Even when you get there you have "Buckleys" of getting a parking spot and as soon as you wash them they are filty again in an hour or two.
Feb 26, 2013 19:01 Report Abuse
The question one should ask here is ''if the average Chinese person could afford it, would he buy luxury products?'. And in that case I would have to say 'yes' in most cases. Simply because Chinese culture is driven by mianzi (face) and one of the best ways to gain mainzi is to flaunt your affluence by products. As can be read in Tom Doctoroff's 'What Chinese Want' they will do that mostly in products used outdoors where other people can see them. So they will drive expensive cars, wear expensive watches and handbags and drink expensive coffee at Starbucks where they can be seen. At home, out of sight, they will use cheap Chinese home appliances. So, the argument about what people do at home is not very relevant. Yes, there's a lot of (young) people on Sina Weibo that are complaining about this materialist behaviour, but the majority of Internet users are exactly the ones who cannot afford these goods. I wonder if they would change their behaviour if they could. Also, Sina Weibo has only 50 million active users, so just like the mentioned millionaires, it might not be a representative sample according to both number and demographics.
Feb 26, 2013 13:22 Report Abuse
Yes I think the writer is mostly correct and I agree with most of his observations. High priced brand named shops seem empty most of the time because people just cannot afford to buy those items. A whole shopping centre here, Carrefours, closed for just that reason. I have just returned from the Philippines and the same goes there. Shops selling expensive clothing and accessories are empty and the food court and the sale stalls selling cheap stuff are well populated. But what gets me in China is that while people seem to earn such small salaries they all still seem to walk around with Apple ipads and smart phones none of which are cheap. Now there's a conundrum that has always had me bemused at people when they cry poor. The positively obscene line ups at Apple stores when a new product is launched just makes me laugh. My experience of Chinese is one of thrift and trying to eke out a living but I do also see the indecent flaunting of wealth by others! Might I add that I have seen the same in the western world as well. Keeping up with the neighbours is an expensive pastime!
Feb 26, 2013 10:04 Report Abuse
"Might I add that I have seen the same in the western world as well. Keeping up with the neighbours is an expensive pastime!" I agree completely. this same mentality exists in America, but people always attack china because of their materialistic views. While there are a higher percentage of luxury goods, its also interesting though to examine savings rates as well. Americans are probably one of the most in debt nations. Student loans, property, and of course Credit Cards. I love my friends, but there also dumb as shit (not that im in a different boat). I don't know many Americans purchasing things on CC's for nobel causes. Many of the Chinese I know pay for these sorts of things outright. I couldn't even imagine paying for a car or school up front.
Feb 28, 2013 01:10 Report Abuse
You are very right about the debt ratio. I pay for everything here in cash. Back home I could and would use a credit card. As long as China stays away from the unlimited supply of credit we all seem to enjoy in the western world they will be better off.....and pay cash for their little luxuries.
Feb 28, 2013 07:12 Report Abuse
I love the way nobody has dared to counter your argument. Gutless wonders the lot of them! Or perhaps they all agree. Either way we can certainly agree that the written word is dead in this instance. What a shame too! And just as we seemed to understand the way of things!
Feb 26, 2013 00:17 Report Abuse