China reins in bling to promote “frugal working style”

green lamborghini china

Is China suffering from bling fatigue? The central government’s attempt to rein in its high-ranking civil servants’ ostentatious displays and promote a “frugal working style” sounds like bad news to the luxe industry.

At parties, on their blogs or in the street, the only children of the first generation of high-ranking officials — who enabled the shift towards a capitalistic economy — are keen to flaunt their Vuitton, Burberry, Cartier and Dior paraphernalia.

But a string of corruption scandals that made the headlines and pushed Beijing to crack down on bling and promote a “frugal working style” could spell bad news for the international brands who were counting on China’s luxury boom.

From now on, officials will have to rein in their expenses: no more luxury gifts (a huge part of Chinese networking culture), sports cars and gargantuan banquets.

Times are changing. Marketing people have coined the term “bling fatigue” to describe what’s happening. Billboards promoting luxury products are out, but internet sales of the same products are thriving, proving that discretion is key.

The luxury tastes of the Chinese market may also be shifting, according to Fflur Roberts, Euromonitor’s global head of luxury goods research, cited in a Bloomberg article published Monday that suggests luxury brands like Prada that are less focused on logo-oriented products could fare better than others.