As Brazil, Russia, India and China - or BRIC - increasingly shape the future, it won't solely be all about economics. These countries' cultural values will continue spreading west and influencing ours. So I wasn't surprised to read that amongst China's ranks of self-made billionaires, they eshew things like the superyachts that are so popular amongst their Western counterparts - North Americans own 44% of the superyachts, while Asians make up under 10%. (illustration)
One insight in particular from Wealth-X - a trend tracking firm which keeps exhaustive tabs on the doings in Richistan - stood out to me:
Ultra-high networth individuals in Asia don't necessarily see leisure as being virtuous, so compared to their Western counterparts, they work more of their golden years.
This becomes more clear why when you take a look at the country's cultural mythology which shaped core Chinese values, the backdrop against which these rich enterpreneurs made their fortunes - which is comprised of five myths:
1. the Yellow Emperor - a king that was legendary for being wise, visionary and initiating Chinese civilization
2. First Emperor Qin Shi Huang: established China as a nation
3. Queen Mother of the West - created the Eight Immortals, each of which represents one of the various factors of life
4. the powerful yet defiant Monkey King (who is possibly related to the shape-shifting simian in the Hindu pantheon, Hanuman)
5. Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy
According to Diana J. Wong, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Eastern Michigan University, this cultural context encourages ingenuity, compassion, balance, family, hierarchy, being holistic and an embracing of the wisdom of Confucias - in particular with establishing integrity and adopting a long-term view. Which is now starting to play out in a non-consumer'y way with this group. “There are a growing number of Asian consumers who no longer want to go to Paris and buy a handbag off the shelf," notes Alex Malcolm, founder of luxury bespoke travel provider Jacada Travel which recently opened an outpost in Hong Kong specifically to service the market on the mainland. "They want those ‘wow’ experiences that are completely unique with a combination of amazing landscape, wildlife and conservation.”
Vincent Lai agrees. As a managing director of the concierge firm Quinessentially Lifestyle, he as been seeing an influx of members who want their "wow" experiences to come with a side of social responsibility, be it attending a retreat in India, visiting Cambodia as part of a voluteer trip or exploring the Brazilian rainforests to learn more. Or, perhaps, just enjoy some peace and quiet. “They may want to explore islands owned privately," continues Lai, "or hire a yacht for few hours just to have afternoon tea instead of going to hotel with the crowd." Luxurious "slow life" retreats emphasizing "intelligent luxury" - organic, sustainable experiences that focus on wellness, learning and fun - continue to grow in popularity with Asian holiday makers. “Deep down, people desire the simplest things," acknowledges Sonu Shivdasani, founder of the ultra-luxurious Soneva Fushi in the Maldives and Soneva Kiri in Thailand. "These are often the money-can't-buy experiences." (image)
Here's the podcast I recorded about this - enjoy!
Music: Kevin MacLeod, Incompetech.com
- Lesley Scott