The Shopping MBA: Over 150,000 US-based Chinese students are surprising market opportunity for real estate and luxury goods firms

Mar 05, 2013, 22:27 ET from Nihao Media

NEW YORK, March 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- For most American college students, university is a time of scrimping by on microwave burritos, working late night shift at the local diner, and wondering how to pay for that ballooning student loan.

For Chinese students studying in America, it's a totally different story.

Daisy Zhang is the daughter of a provincial Communist Party leader. After she entered as an undergraduate at Boston University this fall, Zhang became a frequent visitor of luxury brand stores in the city. She spoke with the Epoch Times to share her undergrad lifestyle.

"Whenever I go shopping at Barneys New York or Nordstrom on the weekends, I bump into other Chinese students. Once I went shopping with a friend whose father is an enterprise chairman in Zhejiang Province, and she spent nearly $20,000 in just 10 minutes. That was nothing for her," said Zhang, who added that some of her Chinese friends bought villas and luxury cars soon after they arrived in America.

According to the Institute of International Education there were 157,588 Chinese students at studying in the U.S. in 2011-2012 – an increase of 23 percent from the previous year, China sends more of its students to America than to any other country.

Many of these students, like Ms. Zhang, come from affluent families and consider luxury goods purchases de rigeur. Despite the material affluence, a sense of trust is often absent among rich Chinese students, Zhang said. "Unless we are close friends, we don't reveal our family backgrounds and parents' jobs, just in case we get into trouble."

So who stands to gain the most from Chinese students in America?

Catherine Lin, Editor in Chief of NIHAO AMERICA magazine, explains, "The real beneficiaries of this trend are schools, real estate brokers and luxury and aspirational goods companies."

Recently NIHAO AMERICA sponsored a series of events for Chinese students who were interested in buying condominiums at the W Hollywood Residences in Los Angeles, California. "It was incredible to see all these students from USC and UCLA who were interested in purchasing property here," explains Ms. Lin.

"All of my friends and family ask me what they should buy," explains recent Fordham graduate Xuan Wang. "Many times they ask me to go to the store and buy them products and ship them home. And when they come visit we are always going shopping together – I'm like a personal shopper and translator all in one."

Recently Ms. Wang helped NIHAO AMERICA organize Chinese New Years events for luxury brands in Manhattan. Many of the attendees were Chinese students hungry to learn more about brands that are not very common in China. Fendi, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton and Burberry all hosted a mix of wealthy Chinese visitors and, in many cases, their children who attend New York-areas universities.

According to Ms. Lin, the next big opportunity for luxury brands to connect to Chinese students is college graduation season, which occurs this May.

"NIHAO AMERICA has created our first annual Celebrate Graduation program for Chinese graduations for matriculating students at USC, UCLA, NYU, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell and 15 other universities," says Lin. The Nihao-sponsored events will take place in Manhattan and Beverly Hills in the days before their graduation.

Ms. Wang notes. "Studying to enter college was not easy. It was very competitive. Graduation was a big achievement. It is nice to get something special along with the diploma."


SOURCE Nihao Media