Guess who just ordered that Bentley
WHEN Mr Nigel Lofkin, factory tour guide of British premium brand Bentley, stopped by a woman who was stitching a small orchid onto a piece of garnet leather for a car seat, he said: "Let me guess. I bet it belongs to a Chinese lady."
He bent over to check the information on the back of the leather and chuckled.
"Bingo! It's for a Bentley Continental GT going to China. And I think the flower represents the name of the owner, a woman," said Mr Lofkin.
"My colleagues and I realise from some interesting tailor-made requirements that more Bentleys will be delivered to female and younger customers in China than in any corner of the globe," he added.
China has become an attractive market, and not only for ultra-premium vehicles, in recent years.
"We do see many interesting characters among our Chinese customers," said Mr Torsten Muller-Otvos, CEO of British royal family-favoured luxury carmaker Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
"Our Rolls-Royce car owners in China are five to 10 years younger than the average age globally. They are young, wealthy and trendy Chinese. And 10 per cent are women," he said.
According to Mr Muller-Otvos, most of his Chinese clients are young entrepreneurs.
"They do business by themselves and most of them have overseas study experience," he said.
Rolls-Royce celebrated the Asia-Pacific debut of Wraith, the most powerful two-door sports car in the ultra-luxury brand's 109-year history, at AutoChina Shanghai in April. The first deliveries of Wraith to Chinese customers are expected in the fourth quarter.
Mr Muller-Otvos said he is confident there will be an increasing number of rich young entrepreneurs in China.
"We are cautiously optimistic about our business in China in 2013. I would not be surprised to see China as our No. 1 market this year."
Bentley also said the average age of its Chinese customers is 35, compared with the world average of 45 and the US average of 61.
"Many fans of our Continental GT V8 two-door grand touring coupe are Chinese women, as well as young men in their 20s," said Mr Lofkin. However, "a Bentley is always the choice as the last car in life of a US rich person".
Mr Lofkin told China Daily that although the headquarters is in Britain, Bentley engineers have researched and come up with special colours for Chinese women, including pearl pink and dragon red.
Last year, Bentley for the first time designed a special course for female drivers as part of its driving-experience marketing initiatives in China.
Italian sports-car producer Ferrari's CEO, Mr Amedeo Felisa, also noted the younger ages of Chinese customers and the different gender ratios.
"We noticed our Chinese customers' ages are 10 years less than the world average. And 25 per cent of them are no more than 30. Moreover, the share of women owners is larger than in other markets in the world," he said.
CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK