The next prediction in our 2013 series isn’t so much one for the months ahead as it is one for a few years down the road. The luxury industry’s center of gravity has been creeping East for years. The story dominating the headlines is most often China, but the truth is, it’s the entire Asia Pacific region–Japan, China, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, et. al,–that led us to predict that, by 2016, the center of the luxury universe will have shifted from the North America and Western Europe to the Far East. Currently, APAC accounts for 28 percent of all business-to-consumer e-commerce. In just three years, that figure is expected to increase by 50 percent, pushing it well past North America, and making it the world’s most profitable online consumer base.
It’s hard to go a day without reading about how the world is going increasingly mobile. Because it is. Nowhere is this more apparent than in East Asia. In China today, two-thirds of internet users own a smartphone with a data plan. Americans and Europeans, by comparison, trail by 22 percent and 28 percent, respectively. When it comes to data-enabled tablets, the disparity is even wider, with China out-swiping the U.S. by almost 4-to-1, and Europe 5-to-1. Not only are Asians mobile in greater numbers, but their appetite for high-end consumption, as well as their means to buy, are also on the rise. Between just Japan and China, luxury sales reached almost $50 billion in 2012. And this doesn’t even count the millions more spent in other countries to avoid exorbitant luxury taxes. Analysts predict that 2013 will be even more lucrative, due to an upswing in the economy and anticipated changes to China’s tax code.
Brands and retailers are well-advised to not only tap into these markets with region-specific marketing and site content (as well as extensive, reliable shipping options), but more and more, they should consider centering their entire digital strategies around APAC. It’s where the demand is, and it’s where the demand will be for a long time to come.