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Post-80s Consumers and Food Concerns Boost Premium Cookware

High-end, high-price imported kitchenware very much in vogue for affluent health-conscious mainland shoppers.

Photo: Pots of gold: Post-80s born consumers prefer premium cookware. (Shutterstock.com)
Pots of gold: Post-80s born consumers prefer premium cookware.
Photo: Pots of gold: Post-80s born consumers prefer premium cookware. (Shutterstock.com)
Pots of gold: Post-80s born consumers prefer premium cookware.

Undeterred by high prices, Beijing shoppers seem increasingly keen to purchase top-of-the-range imported kitchenware. Brands such as Zwilling, WMF, Thermos, Serafino Zani, and Emile Henry are widely sought after, despite the huge price differential between these imported items and their domestic equivalents. In the case of cooking pots, while unbranded items may retail for a few hundred Yuan, the major brands can command as much as Rmb3,000. Even branded cutlery sets can fetch up to Rmb1,000.  This phenomenon has not been restricted to the high street retailers. Robust growth in the mainland's e-commerce sector has seen high-end cookware firmly established as a popular online purchase. On the Zwilling flagship store at Tmall, for instance, there are, on average, more than 100 monthly transactions related to high-end cooking equipment. In 2013, Zwilling registered a double-digit annual growth rate in China, making it the German brand's fastest growing market.

Compared with ordinary kitchen utensils, the high-end cookery brands distinguish themselves through their high quality, high added-value and high technology content. Aside from their stylish appearance, functionality is also put at a premium. Beyond the basic feature of nonstick surfaces, other key selling points include healthier cooking (typically by reducing the amount of oil used in frying), enhanced taste and reduced energy usage. In terms of marketing, many brands invite professional chefs to demonstrate to customers just how to use the cookware. Typically, this takes the form of live demonstrations designed both to reinforce the brand image and build customer loyalty.

China's premium cookware market is inevitably growing in line with rising economic standards and increased disposable incomes. It also reflects consumers' greater emphasis on product quality and healthier lifestyles. With food safety still a major issue of concern on the mainland, cooking at home has increasingly come to be seen as a healthy, and stylish, choice.

The rising purchasing power of the post-80s generation, a demographic notably keener on the finer things in life than older consumers, is also key to driving spend in this sector.

Liu Qun, Beijing Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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