Luxury Goods and Luxury Consumption in LSE Chinese International Students

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“I enjoy it when I do it! : How does a ground of LSE Chinese international students experience luxury consumption and perceive publicly displaying luxury goods on LSE campus?

 

Introduction

Luxury Goods and Luxury Consumption:

There is no universal definition for luxury goods. The term “luxury” originally comes from the Latin word “luxus”(Dubois & Paternault, 2005), which refers to the products that do not possess practical utility, yet work as signals to display self-identity and exhibit wealth and social status to others (Bagwell & Bernheim 1996). Whether a product could be regarded as luxury goods depends on a myriad of factors, such as culture, social norms and individual preferences. In this study, luxury goods refer to types of goods with significantly high price, including accessories, cars or services, and symbols to display wealth and superior social rank. Luxury consumption refers to the behavior of consuming luxury goods (Yu, 2014).

Global luxury market has been continually growing in the recent years, due to the exposure to global medias, the rise of middle-classes and economic growth (Wang& Griskevicius, 2014). Nowadays, the global luxury market is facing a large number of international consumers with diverse background. Among all the international consumers, Chinese customers take up more than 25 % of the overall global luxury customers (Brain, 2015). It is noteworthy that over half of luxury purchases of Chinese customers are made abroad. Among the Chinese customers, Chinese international students have become a salient customer group. There are over 50,0000 Chinese students are studying abroad in the academic year of 2015-2016. (Krantz, 2015). Most Chinese international students are self-supporting students and come from families with good financial background. With the large number and strong purchasing power, Chinese international students thus play a crucial role in today’s global luxury consumption.

Research Question Statement

The past research has explored customers’ perception and motivation towards luxury consumption, such as the cross-cultural comparison of consumer’s attitudes toward luxury (Dubois& Laurent, 1994), value-based luxury consumption behavior (Wiedmann, 2009) and the luxury motivations comparison between Asian and Western societies (Wong & Ahuvia, 1998). However, few researches have investigated students as specific customer groups. It is intriguing to explore why international students have strong purchasing power in luxury consumption, concerning their main social status as students. A study of Chinese internationals students can reflect with how family education, personal value and foreign social environment exert influence on their luxury consumption. Meanwhile, publicly displaying the luxury goods has become a common impression of Chinese international students on campus. Some people argue that international students, as an active consumer group, stimulate the global luxury market and promote economy. However, some people accuse excessive luxury consumption brings negatives impact on student’s personal growth and academic performance (Gumpert, 2005).

Therefore, this study aims to explore Chinese international students’ motivations to engage in luxury purchase, perception of luxury goods and attitudes toward luxury on campus: How do Chinese international students perceive luxury goods and luxury consumption? What are the motivations drive their luxury purchases? What are their opinions towards the luxury on campus phenomenon? This qualitative study will investigate three Chinese international students studied at LSE to answer the aforementioned questions.

Methods

In-depth Interview

The study adopts in-depth interview as the method of data collection. The participants are informed that this is a voice-recorded interview. The questions focus on the interviewees’ perception of luxury goods, luxury purchase experiences and opinion towards displaying luxury goods on campus. An in-depth interview discussion guide, including key themes and questions were memorized to ensure the flow of conversation. Additional prompt questions might be added to aid the interview. The aim of the interview is to collect perspectives, life experiences directly from the interviews for analysis.

In-depth interview displays advantages over other methods on luxury consumption. First, previous researchers have utilized qualitative interviews as research methods to investigate luxury consumption (Zivkovic, 2012). This studied topic involves with participant’s perception in self-identity, personal income and social status. In-depth interviews are more personal forms of research, free from focus group pressures (Stokes & Bergin, 2006). Second, face-to face in-depth interviews promote self-disclosure and trust between the interviewers, which elicit the responses directly from the interviewees and tend to stimulate richer information (Holstein & Gubrium, 2001). Third, this interview adopts semi-structured form. Interview result might be negated if the interview is strictly structured, or the questions directly are connected to the research questions. In this study, the interview questions are composed by mainly open-ended questions, which provide opportunities to probe for individual’s thinking and life experience so that triggers new insights (Stokes & Bergin, 2006).

Sampling

Purposive sampling is used to recruit the participants in this study, which enables to subjectively select participants that are interested in the research topic. This sampling technique efficiently targets a sample of subjects that are suitable for the study (Saunders, 2009). The interviewees selected are three Chinese international students from LSE. They were recruited through the researcher’s social networks by email. All participants are full-time master students that are aged between 20-25, female, born and raised in the mainland of China. Their families fully support their study and living expense in the U.K.

In order to achieve a better understanding of the research topic and avoid narrow sampling, it is wise to include ““peripheral sampling” (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Three interviewees are luxury customers with different consumption level (Pseudonyms are used for the protection of the interviewees). The first interviewee (Yi) is a moderate consumer that had three to five luxury purchases in the past year. The second interviewee (Alex) is an active consumer in luxury consumption, and usually engage in luxury purchases every season. The third interviewee (Jing) is an active consumer who has bought luxury products every month on average.

In this study, the role of the researcher is to ask questions, direct the flow of the interview and record the responses directly from the interview. The only possible ethical issues are the privacy of the participants’ personal perspective, finical income and demographics information. In order to prevent the unethical issues, all personal information remains anonymous throughout data reported and only be used to aid with the purpose of the research.

Data Analysis

Thematic analysis is chosen as the data analysis method. Thematic analyses, “a method for identifying, analyzing and reporting patterns within data” (Braun &Clarke, 2006, p. 79), are efficient in analyzing detailed description of data in this particular study. First, the interview questions are phrased in an open-ended form and avoid directly answering the research questions, which tend to elicit flexible and descriptive responses. It’s thus require an interpretative analysis method and different fields of knowledge to interpret the data. Thematic analysis gives this research more flexibility in choosing theoretical framework, unlike other methods of analysis require specific theories (Braun &Clarke, 2006). Moreover, thematic analysis allows to categories the descriptive units, analyze the patterns and identify the relationship between textual data (Attride-Stirling, 2001). It enables to explore the connection of the key themes so that generate more accurate findings. Furthermore, instead of heavily influenced by the researcher’s subjectivity like discourse analysis, thematic analysis allows to capture new meaningful themes from the data so that achieves better understanding of the research question (Joffe & Yardley, 2003).

This study adopts the J. Attride-Stirling model (2001) as the thematic network. The interview transcripts were extracted from the tape recording. Each theme was selected based on its frequency, extensiveness, and relatedness to the research questions. Twenty-one Basic Themes were abstracted from the coded sentences, which form the simple premises of the interview data. The Basic Themes are then summarized by the middle-level Organizing Themes to enhance the principal meaning. Last, the super-ordinate themes, Global Themes, are concluded based on the Organizing Themes to “encompass the principal metaphors in the data as a whole” (Attride-Stirling, 2001, p.5). The thematic network thus provides a clear and coherent presentation of the qualitative data.

 

Finding

The Perception of Luxury Goods

Uniqueness

The first key finding is that interviewees uniformly agree on ‘true luxury products cannot be mass-produced’. They express the desire to be unique by purchasing luxury goods (Vigneron & Johnson, 1999). The respondents’ purchase desire increases when the products are regarded as rarity, or possess unique characteristics that enable to differentiate individuals from the other. (‘It is unique, expensive. If you have one or two pieces, people will look different to you. To be honest, I like it! This is why I buy it.’)

 

Cultural Attributes

Luxury goods are expected to possess unique cultural attributes, such as cultural identity and brand history. The unique cultural attributes are regarded as the main feature that differentiates luxury goods from the other goods. (‘I think mainly branding culture. It should be a soul character behind each luxury brands … But you don’t see such connection in brands, like forever 21 or H&M’). Luxury goods with preferred cultural attributes, or when they considered such cultural attributes fit their personal style are more likely to attract respondents to engage in luxury consumption.

 

Good Quality

Good quality is regarded as an expected, necessary characteristic of luxury goods. Respondents regard the price of luxury goods should be positively related to its quality. (‘It does look much more well-made, but it is kinda what they should be, for such an expensive price, you expect it to be good quality.’) Quality even determines whether they will actually engage in luxury purchase. All respondents show no interest in purchasing a luxury product that does not meet their quality standards. A poor quality luxury product is considered as ‘it is just waste of money.’

 

Motivations of Luxury Consumption

Hedonism

The key motivation of luxury consumption shown by all the interviewees is hedonism, which refers to “people’s desire to experience positive feelings and affective states they believe possible by consuming those luxury goods” (Bezzaouia & Joanta, 2016, p.152). Luxury purchase is regarded as means that bring emotional values by all interviewees.

Pleasure is the first key emotional value reflected from the data. Three interviewees respectively used words, ‘happy’, ‘awesome’ and ‘enjoyable’ to describe their feeling of purchasing luxury goods; Luxury consumption is also described as ‘self-given gifts’, or ‘a special treat’ and means of gaining self-value. The ability to engage in luxury consumptions is perceived as a symbol of self-actualization. (‘That is one of the things I love about buying some luxury brands. It’s kinda push you to work harder. When people ask, it is such a nice shoe, and you can say, I earned it’).Another finding is all interviewees’ luxury consumptions mainly seek for personal gratifications, instead of displaying their social status. When asked whether social standing is an important motivator for luxury consumption, one interviewee responded,

Yi: I don’t really care about it. I mean, buying luxury will bring up your social standing for sure, but it’s not my goal. I think buying luxury makes me happy. That’s why I do it.

This inclination indicates consumers who consider personal emotions in luxury consumption tend to be more individualistic-orientated, rather than being collectivistic-oriented (Gobe, 2003).

Self-Image

Another finding reflected from the interview data is that luxury consumption is perceived as means of maintaining, or reinforcing the respondents’ self-image. Some interviewees indicate luxury consumption could maintain their personal image (‘When I feel like it, I will just do it. I think I don’t really care others; I know who I am. I know my style’). Other respondents express that group reference and reputation influence their luxury consumption. Luxury consumption enables to help them gain group recognition and feel more admired by others (‘That’s why I am buying it. I am not shame of being admired by others, it makes feel good.’). Although there is some segregation of motivations regarding individualistic self-image versus collectivistic self-image, the individualistic factors, such as personal preference and self-satisfactions, are more likely to determine the final luxury consumption, compared to collectivistic factors, such as group recognition.

Researchers: Would you worry about what others would think of you when you buy luxury goods?

 Yi: Usually not, when I feel like it, I will just do it. I think I don’t really care others; I know who I am. I know my style.

Alex: Most of time no, as long as I love it, that’s what counts. It looks like I am showing off, but I know I am not.

Luxury on Campus

Ostentatious Behavior

The interviewees present a relatively negative perception towards students publicly displaying luxury goods on campus. They are described as ‘rich people who do not really understand luxury brands’. (‘it just means they are born in a rich family, saying nothing about themselves, and it is kinda stupid to show off your wealth in school.) All interviewees avoid displaying luxury goods on campus. LSE campus is regarded as a place that not appropriate for showing off wealth, or social status. (I don’t want luxury becomes something that will show off my social standing, especially at school or at workplace.)

 

Stereotypes

The interviewees are familiar with the impression of Chinese international student’s excessive luxury purchase. The words ‘weird’, ‘embarrassed’ and ‘offensive’ were used to describe their feeling towards ‘Chines students loves publicly displaying luxury goods’, which is considered as a biased judgment, a stereotype that should be correct. It even made a negative impression of all Chinese international students as a whole.

Jing: The only things they see is the surface, it is not the whole picture… It is just stereotype, wear I mean I admit there are lots of Chinese students it, but it is not everyone.

 

Discussion:

Limitations

Sampling Issue

The most important weakness of this study is that the interview transcript generates very consistent attitudes towards luxury goods. Although the study intended to include “peripheral sample”, all participants have a similar background. The good financial background, might lead to they’re less concerned about group pressure and generates a more individualistic attitude in luxury consumption. Similar passion of high-end fashion might form similar consumption concept. Same gender also leads to the finding of this study are dominated by female. Without more detailed prescreening investigation of the participants, the prejudices, including family income, personal consumption conception and parental education difference might shape the final findings.

Three participants are a very small sample size that could not represent the entire Chinese international students. More importantly, all participants are relatively accessible subjects that recruited from researcher’s personal social network. Three participants are friends of the researcher. The personal relationships may have influenced the answers of sensitive questions related to the social status or personal living expense.

 

Interview Design

Open-end questions generated too many irrelevant responses that could not provide meaningful insights to the research questions. The questions regarding the interviewees’ personal experience of luxury purchases and favorite luxury brands were expected to generate innovate answers, yet it only yielded quite simple responses, which didn’t contribute much to the coding process. Meanwhile, the flow of the interview wasn’t as interactive as was designed. Some questions were phrased in an overly direct way, using too much “do you”, “will you”, which led to many short answers. The researcher almost used all prompt questions, which more or less influenced the responses in a particular way.

The content of the interview questions also needs improvement. Due to the researcher’s previous literature review, the interview questions are influenced by the researcher’s prior knowledge so that the interview questions might be limited within some fixed concepts. In addition, the interview transcript reflects some concepts that were not included in the interview guide, such as cultural values, parental education, For example, considering China as a highly collectivistic culture, the interview should have included some questions targeting the family education and culture values.

 

Analysis & Coding

Although the thematic analysis network generated from the interview transcript is sufficient to address the research questions, yet it is still relatively superficial, due to the small-scale nature of this study. Thematic analysis is an inherently reductive analysis, particularly when dealing with the flexible responses (Aronson, 1994). Some responses in this study are too fragmented or irrelevant to be concluded into the codebook. The codebook provided in the appendices also does not include the process of selecting codes, which is identified by the subjective judgment of the researcher. These prejudices might omit some nuanced data. Last, more secondary data, such as the body language, facial expression and tone of the interviewees, should be inputted to strengthen the analysis.

Conclusions

Based on the research, luxury goods are regarded as products that are expensive, good quality with unique cultural attributes. Hedonism and self-image are the key motivations in luxury consumption. The findings reconfirmed previous Vigneron and Johnson (1999)’s five forms of luxury motivation (status, uniqueness, conformism, quality and hedonism). Luxury on campus is perceived as a negative ostentatious behavior of displaying social prestige, which supports the link between symbolic meaning and luxury consumption (Wiedmann, 2009).

This study provides insights in understanding how Chinese international students perceive luxury goods, their motivations towards luxury consumption and how they perceive luxury on campus, which inform the future research questions on understanding Chinese international students’ luxury consuming behavior, the link between symbolic meanings and luxury consumption and the younger generation’s consumer psychology. Meanwhile, with the growing numbers of international students, this study also contributes to the understanding different students group and benefit the harmony of diverse campus culture.

Reference

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APPENDIX I – INTERVIEW

  1. Interview Cover Sheet

The interview

Date and time: ……March 15, 2017……………

Duration: ………45 minutes…………………………

Place: ……………LSE Student Union………………

Contextual notes:

Interviewee

Demographic information (record only information that is relevant!):

Age ……22-24………………………………

Gender …………Female………………….

Education / employment status …Msc Students………………………………

Relation to the topic ………Chinese international students…who are luxury consumers…………

Method of recruitment: All interviewees were recruited by the researchers’ social networks through email.

*Some information has been withheld to protect the anonymity of the interviewees.

 

 

  1. Interview Topic Guide
Introduction Giving general introduction of the interview to the interviewee:

  • This is a voice recorded interview about luxury consumption.
  • The questions will be focus on their perception of luxury goods, personal life experience of luxury purchases and opinion towards carrying luxury goods on campus.
  • This interview will be approximately 45 minutes.
Explaining the purpose of the study:

  • The aim of this study is to explore how Chinese international students perceive luxury goods, their motivations towards luxury purchase and how they perceive luxury goods on campus.

N.B. The study is not intended to judge, or embarrass their luxury purchase.

Clarifying ethical concerns:

  • All personal information, regarding the participants’ personal opinion, life experience and demographical information will be protected, only be used to aid with the purpose of the research and remain anonymous throughout data reported.
  • The participants can stop the interview at any time. They are not obliged to answer all the questions, and skip any question that they do not want to answer.
Ask permission to start the voice recorded interview.
Warm Up

(Opening Questions)

Please keep in mind that there are no wrong answers and feel free to share your opinions. Any different viewpoints are welcomed in this interview
What is your favorite luxury brand? Why do you like it?
The Perception of Luxury Goods, Luxury consumption What is your definition of the word “luxury” or luxury goods?

PROMT: How do luxury products differ from ordinary products?

Personal Experience What do luxury goods or luxury purchase mean to you?
How do you feel when buying luxury goods?

PROMT: Can you think of some words to describe your feeling?

Please tell me your most memorable luxury purchase experience.
Uniqueness

 

 

 

What do you think of “the true luxury products cannot be mass-produced”?

PROMT: Do you also prefer limited-edition luxury goods? Why or why not?

Do you regard luxury products as something that can differentiate you from the others? Why or why not?
Quality

 

Do you think luxury brands have a good value for its certain design and better quality? Why or why not?
When you buy luxury goods, how likely would you evaluate the substantive attributes and performance of a luxury brand?

PROMT: image a luxury product has a unique style, preferred by many people and have a reasonable price, but that does not meet your quality standards, will it enter into your purchase consideration?

Hedonism Some people think regard luxury brands as gifts for treating themselves.  What do you think?

PROMT: Have you ever had any lluxury purchases as self-given gifts?

Do you think self-actualization is an important motivator for your luxury consumption? Why or why not?

PROMT: Have you ever saved up or worked for any luxury products?

Social Status and Conformity Do you think for you is social standing an important motivator for your luxury consumption? Why or why not?
Before purchasing a product, is it important for you to know what kinds of impression of this brand or products on others or what others think of people who use certain brands or products? Why or why not?
Would you worry about what others would think of you when you buy luxury goods?
Luxury on Campus What is your impression of the people who carry luxury pieces, such as expensive homes, cars, and clothes on campus?

 

Have you heard of people saying Chines students loves carrying luxury goods on campus?

PROMT: How do you feel when you hear such saying?

Do you wear luxury brands to school?
Close Up Thanks interviewees for participating the interviews.
Ask participants if they have any more contents they would like to share
Repeat the ethical rules and provides related materials (interview guide, recorded voice message and so on) of the interviews.
Answer any questions from the participants if they have any concerns regarding the interview.
  1. TRANSCRIPT

Tape Recorder On

INTERVIEW 1 (Interviewee: Yi)

So, before we start, please keep in mind that there are no wrong answers and feel free to share your opinions.

Ok, sure.

Ok, what is your favorite luxury brand? And why do you like it?

I like Chanel; Because I think it has its own culture, and its brand history also makes the products look so cool!! Coco Chanel she also is an artist. I am about to get a job. It really fits me with some stylish look.

Great, so what is your definition of luxury goods?

It looks different?

Yeah, like how does luxury products differ from ordinary products in your opinion?

Ok, so the first on top of my head is expensive, unique, very well made and they might be limited-edition, and the design should be eye-catching. I mean, for me luxury is something can make you stand out immediately.

Great, what do luxury goods or luxury purchase mean to you?

Em… For me, I think buying luxury purchase is way to treat myself.

Good. How do you feel when buying luxury goods?

It is awesome!! I think buying something nice is very enjoyable.

Ok. Please tell me your most memorable luxury purchase experience.

Em…em… My most memorable, is a SW boots I got last Christmas. I got it around 400 dollars. It was such a steal. I love it.

Great, also what do you think of some people say “the true luxury products cannot be mass-produced”?

Em… yes, not necessarily all of them, but I know most luxury products should be for sure. For me, you know, the true luxury products might require super high standard, or some very complicated techniques. It is not so easy to produce for mass production.

What about you? Do you also prefer limited edition luxury goods?

Yeah, sure, it is so cool to have limited edition. And it is kinda feel very, cool and different with luxury.

Ok. Do you regard luxury products as something that can differentiate you from the others?

Yes! It definitely differentiates!! It is unique, expensive. If you have one or two pieces, people will look different to you. To be honest, I like it! This is why I buy it.

And do you think luxury brands have a good value for its certain design and better quality?

Yes, I do. I think they are very well-made. The color, the texture, and the material. You can tell its quality when you look at it for sure.

So when you buy luxury goods, how likely would you evaluate the substantive attributes and performance of a luxury brand?

It is very, very very important for me. After all, that’s lots of money.

Image a luxury product has a unique style, preferred by many people and have a reasonable price, but that does not meet your quality standards, will it enter into your purchase consideration?

Em… probably not, for me, personally, I really care more about quality. For such a crazy price, I have to get my money worth. If it is not that good, I’d rather buy counterfeit.

So some people think regard luxury brands as gifts for treating themselves. What do you think?

Yeah, I think so, too! This winter I bought a lot during Christmas sale, just as new year gifts for myself!!! I was so happy!

Ok. Also do you think self-actualization is an important motivator for your luxury consumption?

Of course. When I get a job, I definitely will work hard for getting more luxury pieces. It is just like a reward for my hard work. An encouragement!

I understand. So do you think for you is social standing an important motivator for your luxury consumption?

Not so much, maybe now I am a student, so I don’t really care about it. I mean, buying luxury will bring up your social standing for sure, but its not my goal. Maybe in the future, but not now.

Ok. Before purchasing a product, is it important for you to know what kinds of impression of this brand or products on others or, let me see, or what others think of people who use certain brands or products?

It depends. I will tell my close friends. I know they like fashion. They will help my purchase. But not my parents. I mean, never ever understand it. I just don’t want to scare them, you know, if they know the real price, they will think I’m crazy.

Would you worry about what others would think of you when you buy luxury goods?

No, it is really not a big deal for me. I think as long as it fits me, I don’t really care how other people think, and maybe they just don’t understand. When I feel like it, I will just do it. I think I don’t really care others; I know who I am. I know my style.

Yeah, I understand. And what is your impression of the people who carry luxury pieces, such as expensive homes, cars, and clothes on campus?

First impression will be, they must come from rich family; you know, their parents must be loaded. You know, rarely could people earn so much money as a student. I saw some people have crazy passion for luxury brand, even it doesn’t fit them, just spending money for showing off. I am not judging. It is no wrong or right of luxury products. People can buy it. Luxury brands are enjoyable thing. But it is just a little annoying when people just wear it for wearing it.

Have you heard of people saying Chines students loves carrying luxury goods on campus?

Unfortunately, yes.It is kinda weird feeling, personally I am a little bit offended by that, but I want to explain them, they are rich kids, also tell them they are not all Chinese. It only depends on the families they come from. For students, we don’t normally have so much money.

Do you wear luxury brands to school?

Usually I am not. It’s just too much only for classes, personally, I don’t want to stand out from class. LSE is too big; I get all sweaty. I would rather wear durable clothes, like a hoodie or sweatshirt.

Ok! Great, do you have any questions from me or anything you want to share more?

Em… No, thanks

Thanks you for participating the interviews.

INTERVIEW TERMINATED

 

INTERVIEW 2 (Interviewee: Alex)

Tape Recorder On

So, before we start, please keep in mind that there are no wrong answers and feel free to share your opinions.

Yeah, I understand.

Ok, what is your favorite luxury brand? And why do you like it?

Me? Um… I think I don’t have a specific brand, but if I have to choose one, I like more boyish, or special style. I guess Givenchy, they are always as cool, so different, you know, not like other brand, always copy the old stuff.

Great, so what is your definition of luxury goods?

I guess, for me, luxury goods are more like a treatment, not something you usually use. I don’t know, it really depends on your financial situation, something is expensive for you, not necessarily also expensive to others. I mean, some people just grow up with all those expensive stuff, like the celebrities’ kids, and they might not even notice it.

Yeah, what do luxury goods or luxury purchase mean to you?

It is very enjoyable, makes me happy, but if I am low on cash, I have to pay my bills. So I might say it is a nice, enjoyment of my life.

How do you feel when buying luxury goods?

Ok, I know it might sound bad, but I love it!! It is just awesome; It is just so fun, and when you find it can match so many things, I just feel so happy. For such a crazy price, you gotta make it worth it.

Great. Please tell me your most memorable luxury purchase experience.

Um… I would say every purchase is pretty memorable for me. I just love buying stuff. If I have to choose one, I got a Givenchy bag for 300 pounds, you know, it is such as steal. I just can’t believe it. I got excited every time when I talked about this.

That’s great. Ok, what do you think of “the true luxury products cannot be mass-produced”?

Um..I guess it is true. Luxury should be something that not everyone can have. That’s why it’s cool.

What about you? Do you also prefer limited-edition luxury goods?

Me? I don’t really care about if it is limited-edition, but if it is, I think it is pretty cool. Limited-edition usually expensive, and it is so hard to get.

Yeah, that makes sense. Also, do you regard luxury products as something that can differentiate you from the others?

Totally, that’s why I buy it. I mean, part of it. Em… It just kinda makes me stand out. Like, if I wear my nice bag, people will look at me more on the street, but if I just wear a sweatshirt, I get less attention. I think, it makes people think of whether you are rich, whether you are stylish.

Good. Ok, also do you think luxury brands have a good value for its certain design and better quality?

Yes. It usually looks very fancy, but it is kinda what they should be, for such an expensive price, you expect it to be good quality. And, there are lots of fake counterfeits out there. You just can tell the difference when you compare them. The real thing does looks more elegant.

Yeah, so when you buy luxury goods, how likely would you evaluate the substantive attributes and performance of a luxury brand?

Em… I definitely think quality is very important. After all, it is an expensive stuff, you don’t want to spend so much on something that are not nice. Luckily, personally, I think my luxury purchases didn’t disappoint me. They are all pretty nice.

Image a luxury product has a unique style, preferred by many people and have a reasonable price, but that does not meet your quality standards, will it enter into your purchase consideration?

(LAUGHS). No, it is just waste of money.

So some people think regard luxury brands as gifts for treating themselves. What do you think?

Yeah, I definitely see it. When you worked hard, or you just feeling like, of course, you can buy some good stuff to treat yourself.

Have you ever had any luxury purchases as self-given gifts?

All the time. I kinda feel guilty when I use my parent’s money on those things. So I’d rather use my own money. I remember I worked all summer last year, and I got a Loewe puzzle bag. It is a nice thing I earned for myself. I kinda feel proud of it.

Ok. Also do you think self-actualization is an important motivator for your luxury consumption?

Yeah, at least for me, that is one of the things I love about buying luxury brands. It kinda pushes you to work harder. When you want something nice, you need to work much harder, get a better job or make more money. And it just makes you a better person. Like when people ask, it is such a nice shoe, and you can say, I earned it. You know? It just feels good.

That’s awesome. So do you think for you is social standing an important motivator for your luxury consumption?

Em… no. I feel like if you showing too much of your social standing from your appearance. It just gonna throws people off. People might be like, she is not gonna be friends with us, cuz she got all fancy stuff, won’t even care to social with normal people. So I don’t want luxury becomes something that will show off my social standing, especially at school or at workplace. I don’t want other feel intimated by those things.

Ok. Before purchasing a product, is it important for you to know what kinds of impression of this brands or products on others or what others think of people who use certain brands or products?

Em… I guess so. Because I love to read reviews and I watch reviews video on YouTube You want to get your money worth, and it is always nice to know what other think of it, because you might change your decision after listening to how other people think.

Would you worry about what others would think of you when you buy luxury goods?

Most of time no, as long as I love it, that’s what counts. It looks like I am showing off, but I know I am not.

Ok. And what is your impression of the people who carry luxury pieces, such as expensive homes, cars, and clothes on campus?

On campus? Em… I don’t know. They might be very rich or really want other people think they are rich. I am kinda of have a mixed feeling. You know when you see someone dress up so fancy, you kinda feel intimated by them? Sometimes I just feel, does it really necessary to wear a Chanel bag to your group discussion? You know, it is kinda of too much for me just for school, but on other places, it is fine with me.

Have you heard of people saying Chines students loves carrying luxury goods on campus?

To be honest, I heard it a lot.

How do you feel when you hear such saying?

I remember one of my classmates, who is an American, asked me, why does this Chinese girl wear a Christian Louboutin to class? I was kinda embarrassed, cuz I don’t want people think Chinese are just some loaded people who don’t even understand these luxuries. I just told her, I didn’t know why this girl did it, but other Chinese people probably won’t wear it. I guess, it is just not that appropriate to pile on lots of luxury brands when you go to school. I mean, those kids might be rich, but it just means they are born in a rich family, saying nothing about themselves, and it is kinda stupid to show off your wealth in school. I personally, don’t like it.

Do you wear luxury brands to school?

In my undergraduate at Purdue, yeah! For sure. Just image all Chinese at your classroom were carrying a Louis Vuitton bag, and you were with a cloth backpack. But now, I guess I care less, or at least, at LSE, I feel like there are fewer people care about those luxury stuff. I don’t feel it is necessary to wear those fancy stuff. I’d rather save them for some special occasions.

Ok! Great, do you have any questions from me or anything you want to share more?

I don’t think so. That’s all

Thanks for participating the interviews.

No worries.

INTERVIEW TERMINATED

INTERVIEW 3 (Interviewee: Jing)

Tape Recorder On

Please keep in mind that there are no wrong answers and feel free to share your opinions.

Yeah, got it.

Ok, what is your favorite luxury brand? And why do you like it?

Too many, and it is always change, but if I have to choose one, I guess currently, it will be YSL… Recently its style fits right in my alley. I love street wear, and YSL kinda has the boyish vibe, you know, it is cooler. And it is not like the usual luxury brands that always make very edgy looks. This is really different.

Great, so what is your definition of luxury goods?

I don’t know… First, expensive I guess, second, it has to have some unique culture behind it. And the quality should be good. Well, personally I think designer is a necessary part for luxury. Em… I guess the quality, and culture. I think mainly branding culture. It should be a soul character behind each luxury brands, you know, Ralph Simon is famous for his super simple style, and then he transfers to the Dior, Dior products becomes very simple as well. But you don’t see such connection in brands, like forever 21 or H&M. Luxury products have a history, a culture, and that’s what I love about it.

Great, what do luxury goods or luxury purchase mean to you?

I guess, there is way of helping me feeling great!! I really enjoy it.

Good. Well, how do you feel when buying luxury goods?

Happy, very happy, I am not gonna lie. I love it. It just feels very satisfied.

Great. Please tell me your most memorable luxury purchase experience.

My Givenchy Antigona tote bag. It was my valentine’s day gift. It has specially meaning for me.

By the way, do you have any luxury purchase regrets? If you do, why did you regret buying it?

I guess so, I use to buy stuff, because it was on discount, but not because I really want it. And when I got those, I don’t really use it that much. So, for me, it is just kinda of waste. Now, I’d rather buy something I really want, but something on discount.

Yeah, also what do you think of “the true luxury products cannot be mass-produced”?

Well, I don’t know. Personally, I think it really depends on the products. You know, different luxury brands have brand positioning, they have high couture, and ready to wear, 2 types. Of course, I expect high couture products are handmade, limited-edition; But I won’t expect ready to wear products are limited edition, you know, if you want to make money, you have to make some products accessible to more people.

What about you? Do you also prefer limited-edition luxury goods?

Yes, I wish I can buy more limited-edition, but it just gonna costs me an arm and leg. So, yeah, if have the money, I prefer limited edition.

Ok. Do you regard luxury products as something that can differentiate you from the others?

Yes, I mean not only luxury, every goods purchase, as long as it is unique, it could differentiate me from others.

And do you think luxury brands have a good value for its certain design and better quality?

Yes. In general, I think so. I know some brands, like Parda, they made some very fragile bags on their mass production line, but it is still worth it, in my opinion, it just looks way much better than those regular brands.

Ok. So when you buy luxury goods, how likely would you evaluate the substantive attributes and performance of a luxury brand?

Very. When I buy a luxury brand, it is expected to be good quality, and I think it should be.

Ok. So now image a luxury product has unique style, preferred by many people and have a reasonable price, but that does not meet your quality standards, will it enter into your purchase consideration?

I will not, I have some standards for the quality, as least it has to match the money paid. Unless I really really love it.

So some people think regard luxury brands as gifts for treating themselves. What do you think?

Yeah. Like when I get a good grade on my exam or assignment, I will buy it treat myself. I remembered couple years ago, I bought a coach purchase after I got my college offer. You know, it was like a present for myself.

Ok. Also do you think self-actualization is an important motivator for your luxury consumption?

Yes. I haven’t really bought anything because of self-actualization, but I can see myself do it in future. I mean I will, definitely. I don’t want to always use my parent’s money.

So do you think for you is social standing an important motivator for your luxury consumption?

No, not really… Yeah, I mean I understand some people are, but not me.

Ok. Before purchasing a product, is it important for you to know what kinds of impression of this brand or products on others or, let me see, or what others think of people who use certain brands or products?

Well, most cases, no. I think it is important how you feel when you use them, not other people, because even if other people all think it is good, if you don’t, it is pointless. I think I should buy stuff that I think fits my style, my liking, not others.

Would you worry about what others would think of you when you buy luxury goods?

Yeah, sometimes. You know, once one of my friends asked how much of my Marni bag. I feel like there is no right answer to those questions. I mean, when you say a very expensive price, they will be like, oh my god, that’s crazy, and you will be embarrassed. I guess, it is just hard to ignore how people think. It is a sensitive topic, you know.

Yeah, I understand. And what is your impression of the people who carry luxury pieces, like expensive homes, cars, and clothes on campus?

I am not judging, but some of them just don’t understand the real things. You know what? I barely see someone wear luxury and looked really chic and fashionable at school. So… I guess I don’t really into it.

Have you heard of people saying Chines students loves carrying luxury goods on campus?

Yeah, I think I have.

 How do you feel when you hear such saying?

Em.. it is hard to say. I guess I will correct them. The only thing they see is the surface. It is not the whole picture. Some westerners also wear luxury as well. I might feel a little bit offensive. It is just stereotype, I mean I admit there are lots of Chinese students wear it, but it is not everyone. So, yeah, I understand why they ask, but I don’t think what they think is right.

Do you wear luxury brands to school?

Yes, but I won’t be like, I have to wear it, you know, it only depends on my wearing that day. I think, it is not necessary to wear everything in luxury, especially at school, it is a place for study, social place maybe fine, but just not school.

Ok! Great, do you have any questions from me or anything you want to share more?

Not really.

Thanks

INTERVIEW TERMINATED

  1. CODEBOOK
Global Theme Organising Theme Basic Theme Description Example                  
Perception of Luxury Goods Uniqueness  “Unique and limited-edition” goods Uniqueness is regarded as a necessary characteristic, actively mentioned to describe luxury goods; refers to the goods with eye-catching style, limited amount and exclusive design. Yi: The first on top of my head is expensive, unique, very well made and they might be limited-edition, and the design should be eye-catching. I mean, for me luxury is something can make you stand out immediately.

Alex: Luxury should be something special that not everyone can have. that’s why it’s cool.

Quality  “Well-made”, high-end goods High quality is a necessary characteristic of luxury goods; The products should be well-made, have more elegant looking and luxury texture. Alex: Yes. I mean, it does look very luxury, but it is kinda what they should be, you know, for such an expensive price, you expect it to be well-made. And, you know, there are lots of fake counterfeits out there. You just can tell the difference when you compare them. The real thing does looks more elegant.
Culture Products with exclusive cultural attributions The unique attributes created by the key figures of the brands that represent the brands’ own culture, style and history.

Key distinction that differentiates luxury goods  with ordinary goods

Jing: It should be a soul character behind each luxury brands, you know, Ralph Simon is famous for his super simple style, and then he transfers to the Dior, Dior products becomes very simple as well. But you don’t see such connection in brands, like forever 21 or H&M. Luxury products have a history, a culture, and that’s what I love about it.

Yi: I like Chanel; Because I think it has its own culture, and its brand history also makes the products look so cool!! Coco Chanel she also is an artist. I am about to get a job, it really fits me with some stylish look.

Motivations to Engage in Luxury Consumption

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hedonism Pleasure Customers’ desire to experience positive feelings and enjoyment by consuming luxury goods. Jing: Happy, very happy, I am not gonna lie. I love it. It just feels very satisfied.

Alex: It is very enjoyable, makes me happy, but if I am low on cash, I have to pay my bills. So I might say it is a nice, enjoyment of my life.

Yi: It is just awesome; It is just so fun, and when you find it can match so many things, I just feel so happy.

Life Motivator Consumers regard the ability of purchasing luxury goods as a symbol of self-actualization. Alex: It kinda pushes you to work harder. When you want something nice, you need to work much harder, get a better job or make more money. And it just makes you a better person. Like when people ask, it is such a nice shoe, and you can say, I earned it. You know? It just feels good.
Self Image  Individualistic self-image Consumers use, or believe luxury goods, or luxury consumption that are means to reflect their personality, personal identity and sustaining their individual’s self-image  Yi: No, it is not a big deal for me. I like to try different styles. And I think as long as it fits me, I don’t really care how other people think, and maybe they just don’t understand.

Jing: I think it is important how you feel when you use them, not other people, because even if other people all think it is good, if you don’t, it is pointless. I think I should buy stuff that I think fits my style, my liking, not others.

Collectivistic self-image Luxury goods or luxury purchases are regarded as symbols, or means to trigger desired impression on other people, and gain group recognition and reputation that support and befit their self-image. Alex:  It is always nice to know what other think of it, because you might change your decision after listening to how other people think.

Jing: You know, once one of my friends asked how much of my Marni bag. I feel like there is no right answer to those questions. I mean, when you say a very expensive price, they will be like, oh my god, that’s crazy, and you will be embarrassed. I guess, it is just hard to ignore how people think.

Luxury on Campus

 

Students with luxury goods Wealthy Family Students who comes from family with relatively wealthy financial background and are allowed to spend on luxury goods Yi: First impression will be, they must come from rich family; you know, their parents must be loaded. You know, rarely could people earn so much money as a student.

Alex: I mean, those kids might be rich, but it just means they are born in a rich family.

Jing: That’s how I feel. They might be very rich or really want other people think they are rich.

“Showing Off” The primary purpose of public displaying luxury goods is to impress others with their wealth, or high social status on campus. Yi: I saw some people have crazy passion for luxury brand, even it doesn’t fit them, just spending money for showing off.

Alex: It is kinda stupid to show off your wealth in school. I personally, don’t like it.

Jing: Sometimes I just feel, does it really necessary to wear a Chanel bag to your group discussion? You know, it is kinda of too much for me just for school.

Chinese international students displaying luxury goods on campus Biased Stereotypes Chinese’ international students’ excessive luxury consumptions only occurs to a certain small amount of group, which doe not represent the entire Chinese international students. Yi: It is kinda weird feeling, personally I am a little bit offended by that, but I want to explain them, they are rich kids, also tell them they are not all Chinese. It only depends on the families they come from. For students, we don’t normally have so much money.

Alex: I was kinda embarrassed, cuz I don’t want people think Chinese are just some loaded people who don’t even understand these luxuries.

Campus Inappropriate place LSE Campus is not an appropriate place for public displaying excessive luxury goods Yi: It’s just too much only for classes, personally, I don’t want to stand out from class. LSE is too big; I get all sweaty. I would rather wear durable clothes, like a hoodie or sweatshirt.

Alex:  I don’t feel it is necessary to wear those fancy stuff. I’d rather save them for some special occasions.

Jing: LSE is too big; I get all sweaty. I would rather wear durable clothes, like a hoodie or sweatshirt, you know. I want to save those good stuff for special occasion.

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