In another post from my holiday I have been struck in both Florence and Venice about the importance of brands. Whilst all of the brands are in London, they are in the context of a large city with lots of, sadly, less fashionable Londoners surrounding them. In Florence and Venice both cities are achingly fashionable with an intense glitterati of the highly sophisticated European jet set.

It has struck me in both places that the real big purchasers of the designer bags and clothes are not European elites but Chinese and Indian tourists. This shows, for me, where the real global wealth is. It also shows the importance of brands to the far east which in some ways is counter cultural to their strong societal identities.

The Europeans meanwhile, whilst still wealthy, seem to be more savvy and less brand hungry than the far eastern fast growth economies. As an example, the free boat taking me to my hotel was delayed by 40 minutes. Not a single European was willing to pay additionally for a water taxi to take them to the hotel. Yet the Chinese guests were straight to the adjacent taxi rank.

Perhaps these are anecdotal observations but I think they show an important risk that organisations need to consider, that if your brand is reliant on far east customers, how well is the risk in that market, as their economy slows, being identify, assessed and managed? What would a fall (or at least a slowdown) in Chinese economic fortunes do to your business? How well risk managed is the response? Worth adding to the audit plan perhaps?

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