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Luxury Brief: The Power of Affluent Women

The Power of Affluent Women

The spending power of various groups of women in Asia cannot be missed. In Indonesia, the culture of Arisan favours luxury spending. In China, South Korea and Japan, better education and more financial freedom breed a tribe of single independent women who wants to spend on herself rather than in the family. They enjoy the feeling of spending what they have earned. Luxury consumption is a way for them to escape the stress and at the same time verifying their success in life.

These women, married or not, have different sets of needs and aspirations in different markets. For example, while single women are called Gold Miss in South Korea, their counterpart is being labelled as Leftover Women in China – this reflects that in the developing countries women are still suffering from the societal pressure. Brands should consider these cultural nuances when trying to communicate to these women.

Key Data Points

  1. In China, around half of the luxury shoppers today are women. It was a significant increase from 1995 where 90% were men. At the same time, unwed women aged 25-29 rose from 4% in 1990 to 21% in 2010. Financially independent, the new generation of Chinese women feel the freedom to choose who to love and what to spend.

  2. In Japan, office ladies, also known as the Parasite Singles powered the luxury boom in 90s. Today, almost a third of Japanese women in their early 30s are unmarried and probably half of those will always be. They are more likely to indulge themselves with luxury goods.

  3. In South Korea, female customers account for about 90% of luxury sales. Similar to Japan, a rising group of single women with significant purchasing power is driving the demand for luxury goods. They age 30s to 40s and earn more than $US93,000.

  4. Arisan, a type of social gathering, is popular among Indonesian women. Every month, members of the arisan pool funds together for a private lottery. They would gather at hotel or fancy restaurant, wear luxury clothes and top-notch make-up, and share updates on fashion, job and life. The practice is also becoming glamorous with more socialites involvement, with some high-end lifestyle magazines covering spectacular gatherings of the socialite. For some members, an arisan is a perfect occasion to show off their latest designer clothes, bags and accessories.

Luxury in Action: A Typical Day of Arisan Lady

At 7:15 a.m. she wakes up to kiss her husband goodbye, and then she will go back to sleep until 7:45am to send her kids to school.

At 10am she has a hairdo session at home in preparation for her Arisan gathering. She arrives at 12:15pm at a downtown hip restaurant, wearing the latest designer dress. At there she meets other fellow members who are carrying a Chanel, Hermes or Vuitton. She enjoys the laughter and food with her fellow members and exchanges gossips and latest fashion trends before heading to a boutique opening at 2pm. After that she goes on a shopping spree and then goes to another event to pose for a lifestyle magazine at 4:20pm. She will probably schedule one more event before going back home at 7:30pm.


“Women are now taking over luxury shopping in China” (2014), China Daily,

“China’s ‘leftover women’, unmarried at 27” (2013), BBC,

“Asia’s lonely hearts” (2011), The Economist,

“Inside the world of ‘arisan’” (2013), Jakarta Post,

“Korea’s Luxe Boom” (2012), Financial Review,

Image Source: SCMP

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