Oh my goodness I am scared of China!
I recently watched Red Obsession at the cinema.
It is a documentary about the desire for sheer luxe that is virally spreading among China’s elite; an exclusive group of billionaires who indulge in adorning themselves with western-style symbols of wealth.
The latest status symbol to be seen with is a multi-million pound bottle of first-growth Chateau Latour or Lafite-Rothschild red. Indeed, whereas Bordeaux chateau owners and western wine drinkers associate wine taste with the terroir, the area in which the grape was grown, aka the LAND, the Chinese are more concerned with the BRAND.
And it doesn’t stop there. Apparently there are now almost 300 recorded billionaires in China, up from 1 a decade ago. And even then, this is said to be the tip of the iceberg, with much ‘hidden wealth’ in China.
They are not only amassing personal collections of (mainly Bordeaux) wines with a value of $60 million per individual, but they are purchasing the actual centuries-old Bordeaux chateaux, or even creating replica chateaux in their homeland complete with extensive vineyards.
Dominic Barton, the Global Head of McKinsey & Co. recently reported that with the rise of Africa and Asia, we are going to have 3 billion new middle class consumers in the world by 2030. He predicts that about 75 new Proctor & Gamble sized corporations will need to be developed just to service their daily needs and wants.
Like Barton, I believe that regardless of the size of the company or clientele that they service, businesses need to retain their social licence to operate. Of course, whilst China’s wealth is growing enormously in some sectors, the net earnings of the vast majority of China’s population remains much, much lower.
The scale of this shocks me. And leads me to believe that we actually need to re-think the entire global consumer system, at both quotidian and luxury level, to meet the needs of all people into the future.