China’s Top Ten Cities

Qingdao China

Jing Daily did a post today listing and very briefly describing China’s top ten cities, “ranked by lavish living.” This list  is based on “luxury,” “internationalness,” high-end retail and overall infrastructure, whatever those things mean.

Ignoring for a moment the vagueness of the measures on which this list is based, it actually nicely sets out ten China cities Western businesses ought to be considering as markets for their their goods in China.

Here’s the top ten, with my own brief commentary and then a quote from Jing Daily:

1. Shanghai. No surprise. “Its Bund luxury district is among the finest in the world.”

2. Beijing. No surprise. “Many of the brands that have set up shop in Shanghai haven’t made it to Beijing yet, but that doesn’t influence Beijing’s standing as a top-tier city.”

3. Hangzhou. A bit of a surprise over Shenzhen. “Hangzhou’s Lakeside International Famous Brand Street, one of the city’s high-end districts, is the most developed in the country, integrating a high-end business concept modeled after Milan’s Via Monte Napoleone shopping district.”

4. Guangzhou. Okay. “With its La Perle shopping mall and Friendship Mall, Guangzhou is a city that shouldn’t be taken lightly.”

5. Shenzhen. Makes sense. “Shenzhen’s got tons of luxury brands, albeit fewer than Guangzhou, but in terms of luxury furniture [sales] Shenzhen — along with Beijing and Hangzhou — is in the top three.”

6. Chengdu. Up and coming. “Chengdu and Chongqing are on equal footing as west China’s high-end fashion superstars. Many famous luxury brands have established these two cities as their key midwest markets.”

7. Chongqing. Up and coming.

8. Qingdao. Definitely on an upswing and as a long time fan of the place, I was happy to see it make the list. “Qingdao’s luxury market has developed quickly in recent years, leading many high-end car dealerships and luxury brand boutiques to pop up. Qingdao now plays the role of fashion leader in Shandong province.”

9. Xi’an. “Xi’an Zhongda International is among the best shopping malls in the country, and in recent years the development of Xi’an’s luxury market has been remarkable.”

10. Dalian. Nice place, but I have never thought of it as terribly upscale. “Dalian has a Century City [shopping mall], where many international brands have set up shop. Although Dalian is a second-tier city, and doesn’t have many of the same stores that have opened up in Qingdao, it’s got one ace in the hole: A Hermes boutique.”

What do you think?

12 responses to “China’s Top Ten Cities”

  1. Suzhou-Hangzhou-Nanjing are good places to market goods because of overflow from Shanghai. Why hit Nanjing Road every time?
    By comparison, Tianjin’s luxury brand development is also strong but overshadowed by Beijing’s multiple shopping districts, so Dalian and Qingdao are better Bohai regions.

  2. It makes perfect sense for Chengdu to be on this list. There are tons of international luxury brands with stores in downtown Chengdu, and there are even more on the way!

  3. Shenzhen logically suffers a bit in terms of “internationalness”. HK is next door, and the foreigners are spread thin around the city. It is really very Chinese, compared with Shanghai.

  4. What? Ningbo didn’t make the list? Tons of money here. We have a Rolls-Royce dealership! Chengdu, Chongqing, Xi’an don’t have Rolls-Royce. The Heyi Avenue shopping center is positively chock full of Hermes, LV, Christian Dior, etc. An important new resident is the Italian Dada group which is ready to set the city on fire, design-wise.

  5. There were many things to set alarm bells ringing in this post, chief of which was, about Dalian: “Nice place, but I have never thought of it as terribly upscale.”
    Therein, obliquely, lies the key. Dalian has set up a beautiful, beautiful city, but has yet to make a big “splash”. Many other cities have relied, as this post suggests very strongly, on attracting Big Foreign Luxury Brands to create the illusion of luxury. Qingdao seems to me a perfect example, in that it’s a very ordinary city with an undeserved reputation, but somehow a reputation. Dalian, on the other hand, has put a lot more work into the actual infrastructure and has laid a solid base for its development into a decent city.

  6. There is absolutely no way Guangzhou outranks Shenzhen here. Shenzhen is much more upscale due to the overwhelming Hong Kong-ness of the investments there, which include a half dozen high-end shopping malls that could have been pulled right out of the SAR.
    I have friends who go from GZ to Shenzhen just to shop, though of course if they can cross the border, HK is obviously the ideal shopping destination for Cantonese and expats alike.
    And if infrastructure is a measure of luxury living, the mess of concrete highways that is Guangzhou doesn’t really cut it.

  7. Most wealthy Mainlanders to Hong Kong to purchase luxury goods, it is much cheaper than the Mainland (there is no import tariffs & it’s duty free, so savings amount to 20-30% in savings in HK vs. mainland.)

  8. Curious to know what Dalian’s like as an expat city. I know it made a lot of splash recently with the Kim “secret” visit, but I’ve heard that there’s lots of Japanese investment and action there, and would like to know how that works to pull in a foreign live-in community that’s not necessarily all-Japanese.

  9. A couple of points –
    – re Shanghai: Shanghai’s primary luxury district is not the Bund, it’s Nanjing Rd, so that’s a bit suspicious – the Bund is gradually accumulating boutiques but I don’t think it’s really a cohesive district yet. And the idea that it’s “among the finest in the world” I don’t think is very credible, it’s not at all in the same league as New York, Tokyo, or London.
    – Dalian tends to accumulate all the wealth (or at least the wealthy) of the whole northeast – lots of Jilin, Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia wealthy have an apartment in Dalian, so it wouldn’t surprise me that it could support a fair amount of luxury retail. Regarding “internationalism,” it is very heavily skewed toward Japan and Korea, I think it’s not as “international” for westerners as a lot of other equally developed cities. But Intel has a big plant there, etc. and it’s still a very nice place to live, especially if you prefer the sky to be blue.

  10. Since the biggest consumers of luxury goods in China are corrupt government officials, should this also be viewed as a top 10 corrupt cities list?

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