Enrich lifestyle of the rich
When a largely global company does business through realizing people’s dreams, what challenges will they face in China? One is beginning to find out. Aspire Lifestyles, a global brand for concierge services and lifestyle management, owned by medical and travel security risk company International SOS, started to enrich the lives of wealthy Chinese by opening an office in Shanghai in November.
It’s targeting the world’s secondlargest economy where there is a growing number of people with lots of spare money.
Yu Huan, a 28-year-old whitecollar worker in Beijing, said he was very much interested in the services that Aspire Lifestyles can provide.
“I haven’t heard about a company like this before. It sounds expensive but fun,” he said.
Yu plans to hold his wedding on an island not open to the public in the Caribbean Sea, setting a budget of 3 million yuan ($491,500) as a maximum.
“I want all my friends and family to be there, enjoying a nice buffet with a nice sea view. Fireworks are a must during the wedding, as well as a romantic setting,” he said. “I hope the company can arrange all the details from booking the flights to getting approval for the rights to hold the wedding on the island.”
Laurent Sabourin, group managing director for Aspire Lifestyles, said such wishes are manageable based on the company’s strong network.
“Chinese customers’ expectations are increasing at a fast rate,” he said. “Our company provides access to information and exclusive plans to help people know what is available to them.”
The global concierge service industry is a $1.5 billion market, mostly centered in the United States. But it is far from being a mature industry in China.
“However, we believe within a few years, the Chinese market will become as important as the US is to us,” said Sabourin. “We expect double-digit growth in the China market in the coming years.”
By the end of 2012, China had more than 1.05 million people with a personal wealth of 10 million yuan ($ 1.6 million), according to Keynes Chen, general manager of Aspire Lifestyles China.
“Everything is possible here,” he said.
Services offered by the company include arranging one-onone conversations for clients to communicate with the world’s top designers at Paris Fashion Week or getting the chance to learn cooking from the finest star chefs.
Among various kinds of requirements and demands from Chinese clients, Chen said the most popular concierge services in China include bespoke travel design, high-end health management, overseas study and the purchase of luxury items.
According to Sabourin, shopping needs are sometimes as urgent as medication.
In recent years, luxury goods are becoming increasingly popular among the new rich in China.