2011 fashion trend: Western brands to cater to emerging markets

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Indy Lifestyle Online

An increasing number of Western brands will launch new products or even new brands dedicated to consumers in emerging markets in 2011, according to the London-based trend-spotting firm Trendwatching.com.

Brazilian, Indian, and particularly Chinese consumers can expect to see more products next year that are specifically tailored to their needs, wants and desires, either for practical reasons (shape, size, features) or because of the deep-rooted desire for recognition (cultural pride, heritage, lifestyles).

The "made for China" trend is fueled by the astounding growth in the region. China is now forecast to become the world's top buyer of luxury goods by 2015, according to consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers. And according to figures released in June 2010 by the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics, retail sales in the country rose 18.7% year on year to USD $183 billion in May 2010, following a 15.2% rise the previous year.

A study published by consulting firm McKinsey in September 2010 showed that affluent Chinese consumers prefer foreign brands: 52% of consumers whose annual income exceeds RMB 250,000 (USD 36,765) trust foreign brands more than Chinese ones while only 37% said they prefer homegrown labels. Now global companies are looking to strike the perfect balance between preserving their brand identity and tailoring their products to local tastes.

Some Western companies who have taken on the bet include French luxury house Hermès, whose recently launched Chinese brand Shang Xia sells ready-to-wear fashion, tableware, and home furnishings inspired by Chinese culture; US denim maker Levi's dENIZEN jeans brand, which is specifically tailored to fit Chinese consumers since they have narrower hips, smaller bottoms and shorter legs than Americans; and last but not least, Cartier - the number one luxury jewelry brand in China - whose new Panther de Cartier collection is crafted in jade, diamonds and jadeite and expected to be a hit on the Mainland since Chinese consider jade an auspicious stone.