Chanel, Estée Lauder and Louis Vuitton were among the top five most sought-after luxury brands in China, according to the World Luxury Index China 2013 — 2nd Edition, produced by the Digital Luxury Group.

This story first appeared in the June 27, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Chanel came in third place, Lauder took fourth place and Vuitton was in fifth place. The first two spots went to Audi and BMW, respectively.

The report is part of the World Luxury Index, an international ranking and analysis of the most-searched-for brands within the luxury industry. The study covers more than 400 luxury brands within six key segments (fashion, cars, beauty, watches, jewelry and hospitality). The information is culled from 680 million consumer online searches originating from search engines Baidu and Google from January through December 2012.

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The study revealed that Chinese consumer interest is focused on cars (53.5 percent), beauty (22.7 percent) and fashion (14.9 percent). New brands to enter the top 50 were Elizabeth Arden (number 43) and Rado (50), while brands such as Moncler and Salvatore Ferragamo fell off the top 50 list. Last year, Moncler was number 42, and Ferragamo was number 48.

According to the report, the top 10 most sought-after brands, in order, are Audi, BMW, Chanel, Estée Lauder, Louis Vuitton, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Dior, Porsche and Lamborghini. The next 10 are Lancôme, Gucci, Hermès, Volvo, Land Rover, Infiniti, Chow Tai Fook, Cadillac, Cartier and Clinique.

Interestingly, in last year’s survey, Vuitton was in third place and Chanel was in fifth place.

As for the reversal of positions between Chanel and Vuitton, David Sadigh, founder and chief executive officer of Digital Luxury Group, said, “Chanel is benefiting from an important level of interest in China, mostly emanating from strong interest from Chinese consumers in its beauty products, which Louis Vuitton does not have.” He also said Vuitton has been suffering in the Chinese market from oversaturation, and recently decided to raise its prices and sell more high-end leather to give more exclusivity to the brand.

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Among the key trends shaping the Chinese luxury market:

• In the fashion category, the most sought-after brands are, in order, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermès and Coach. Bags and wallets dominated the fashion market in China, generating 90 percent of total interest.

• In the beauty segment, Estée Lauder, Lancôme and Dior retained their spots as the three most-desired beauty brands in the Chinese market. However, Lancôme overtook Dior in the number-two spot. Rounding out the top five were Chanel and Clinique. Skin care accounted for almost 60 percent of all beauty searches.

• In the watch category, Omega, Rolex, Longines, Cartier and Rado, in order, led the luxury watch segment for most searches.

• The top-five jewelry leaders, in order, were Chow Tai Fook, Cartier, Swarovski, Tiffany & Co. and Chanel. Rings were the most sought-after jewelry product, representing more than half of all searches.

• The most sought-after handbag models were from Céline (Luggage); Hermès (Birkin); Chanel (2.55); Longchamp (Le Pliage) and Hermès (Kelly).

“Many brands expected that an increase in Chinese sophistication would reduce the cultural gap with their overseas consumers. In some cases, it actually contributed to the development of unique local preferences, independent from Western tastes, thus challenging luxury brands in terms of product offering but also opening up the way for new opportunities to grow in the Chinese market,” said Pablo Mauron, general manager, China, at Digital Luxury Group.

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