(Yicai Global) Jan. 31 -- As quality issues emerge with many top luxury brands, China's shoppers wonder whether the upscale brands they have always trusted really offer better quality.
The Shanghai branch of China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce recently conducted spot checks of 130 batches of garment products of 54 high-end fashion brands -- Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Hazzys, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Christian Dior and Armani -- sold in the city's Huangpu and Yangpu districts.
The checkers discovered quality problems in 23 batches of various luxury brands, such as Armani, Burberry and Givenchy. The most expensive product to fail the check was an Armani windbreaker jacket priced at over CNY30,000 (USD4,700).
Quality issues discovered in random inspections include low pilling resistance, substandard fiber content and serious dye-related safety hazards. Armani underperformed all the other brands, with 18 windbreaker samples singled out for failure to conform to fiber content standards, and six coats for unsatisfactory color fastness.
Brand reputation is an important consideration for Chinese consumers, while the internet has made word-of-mouth advertising easy as never before. However, product quality is also a key factor contributing to the real value of a brand, and consumers do not want low-quality products, no matter how successfully they are marketed or how popular the brand may be.
Quality and customer experience are the most important considerations for luxury brands. The many quality issues the inspections have exposed cause Chinese consumers to wonder whether the fashion big names take them seriously, and if similar issues arise with their other products. If so, this will exert a substantial impact on their brand image and adversely affect their business development and operations in the country.
China has grown into one of the largest luxury goods markets in the world. The global influence and sales growth potential of the Chinese market have attracted all major fashion brands to set up operations in the country as a strategic priority. Some international exclusive brands have a poor track record in quality inspections in China. These checks should have taught them a lesson. While ramping up marketing and product promotions, they should pay due attention to quality control and assurance. After all, consumers today have become more sensible, with diverse factors influencing their shopping decisions, and shoddy, substandard and defective goods have definitely become old hat in today's China.