British icons help UK brands boost sales

British cultural icons like David Beckham and the Royal family are helping UK-based luxury brands outperform their global rivals in emerging markets, new research has found.

A survey of Chinese consumers in Shanghai, Beijing and those that travel thousands of miles to the UK to shop at places like Harrods and House of Fraser found that ‘Britishness’ was an important reason they chose to buy brands like Burberry.

The study by Professor Qing Wang of Warwick Business School supports recent findings published by the British Retail Consortium that overseas consumers searching for apparel retailers climbed 13% in the first quarter of 2014 compared to last year.

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China continues to represent a huge opportunity for retailers, with the fastest query growth for UK apparel.

When asked what the Chinese consumers associate with Britishness, the Royal family came top of the list, followed by Beckham.

Wang, who will be presenting the preliminary findings of her research at The Geography of Luxury: East, West and Global Directions conference at University of Warwick this week, said: “Luxury goods are defined as those satisfying hedonic rather than functional needs and our research has found this is an area that Britain enjoys a distinct advantage in. A very important factor that makes Britain standout is that it incorporates tradition and innovation seamlessly.”

“Put differently, Britain’s advantage lies in the so-called soft power, which is defined as the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than through coercion and cultural heritage is a key part of that. The extent of its impact is hard to measure and even harder to replicate. As China promotes its own soft power, it has increasingly turned to Britain for inspiration.”




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