Premium brands – sold as 100 % new “second-hand” products?


Recently, a good friend of mine in China told me that she has purchased a whole set of kitchen appliances from a German premium brand for her new kitchen. Knowing how expensive this brand is and how much my friend earns, I wondered why she spent so much money on it. What I did not know was that it only took half of the original price because the products are “second-handed”.

She explained to me that the appliances are all new, they are pre-installed in an apartment by the developer, but the buyer moving into this apartment wanted to install kitchen appliances from another brand, so she put the whole kitchen appliance set for sale on a popular second hand platform. And a lot of people moving into this kind of pre-decorated apartments do this too.

Here a short explanation of the pre-decorated apartment: In Germany people might buy a new appartment with absolutely nothing in it. There is this kind of rough apartment in China as well. But there is also another kind of apartment with so-called “high-quality-decoration” in it. This apartment is half “ready-to-live-in”, meaning: the flooring in each room is installed, the kitchen and the bathroom are completely finished with “high-quality-decorations” – these two spaces are in a ready-to-use status with a whole set of kitchen and bathroom appliances from very premium brands. And with help of the reputation of premium brands, developers can sell the apartment at a higher price.

But wealthy buyers with a personal taste want more. Even though they do appreciate the premium brands the developer has chosen, they still have other preferences, for an even more premium brand, or they prefer appliances with another design or/and new features. Since they do not lack money, they just want to get rid of the “old” appliances as soon as possible, so they will put them on a second-hand platform and sell them at a lower price.

Meanwhile, consumers who have less money but still do have the wish to use good products will wait patiently on second-hand platforms to fish for this kind of 100 % new “second hand” appliances.

What does that mean for the kitchen and bathroom appliance business?

  1. Even if your competitor brand is chosen by a developer, it doesn’t necessarily mean your brand does not have any chance for that building /the people living in that building.
  2. For some premium customers, the design might be one of the key purchase decision factors. If your appliance does not meet their expectations, it will be replaced even though it is “free” e.g. comes with the apartment.
  3. There are customers from the non-premium class, who are already using appliances from premium brands, so they are your users, too. They might live in any city in China – as long as the appliances can be delivered via the post office.
  4. Compared to the high-class end-consumers who might have a helper at home cooking for them every day, this kind of non-premium class consumers should also be invited to usability tests as well, as they use the products every day in person. To be honest, they probably have more pain points and improvement ideas than any high-class non-user.


If you are interested to get more insights about the topic above and would like to conduct relevant customer market research, please feel free to contact Spiegel Institut.


Author: Yue Liu, Spiegel Institut Mannheim


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