Society & Export

Asia’s golden Misses

A new type of consumer is taking Asia by storm. She's young, single and possess a large purchasing power, which is spent especially on luxury and high-end items. For instance, 94 % of all women in their 20’s in Hong Kong have bought a Louis Vuitton bag. This segment has been named “Gold Misses”.

By Luise Urth Krog

The tendency is particularly noticeable in South Korea, but allover Asia we see a similar tendency.

But why has this group of luxury consumers emerged? Professor Dae Ryun from Yonsei University identifies three tendencies that have helped create this growing customer segment in South Korea:

  1. More education. More Korean women gets a long education. In 2011 more women than men received a university education.
  2. Gets married later. Not only do the women get married later, more and more women does not marry at all.
  3. Increased disposable income. In 1960 Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world, but in 2011 it was one of the wealthiest.

It seems that a significant shift in the South Korean mentality has occurred. Once a country where most people saved their money, South Korea is now to a great extend a consumer nation, and especially the luxury market has felt the advantages from this. Not least on account of the consumer habits of young women. Luxury items in particular are among the preferred things that Gold Misses spend their substantial riches on. The term “Gold Misses” refers to “old misses”, which defines single women, while also the group’s massive purchasing power is underlined.

Characteristics for a Gold Miss:

  • Female
  • Single
  • In her 30’s
  • Has a well-payed job
  • Focusses on her career
  • Self-development is important
  • Tends to buy luxury- and brand items


It is not just in South Korea this development takes place. Similar target groups are found in China, India and Japan.

China have also experienced social changes, and a group of women comparable to the Gold Misses of South Korea has emerged. In China these women are called “Sheng Nu”. The name carries two contradicting meanings and refers to “a woman who is in surplus” (a woman who is not married) and a sacred (difficult to access) goddess. This emphasizes how women’s social status develop. Previously in China, people who bought luxury items were primarily men. Even purchases of handbags and jewelry was made by men. But women’s increased social status and economic capabilities mean that in 2010 they were behind 50 % of all luxury commerce.

In Japan “Arafo” (short for “around forty”), unmarried women from their mid-30’s to their mid-40’s, have become a new powerful consumer segment. Like Gold Misses in South Korea, these women have both high social status and a large purchasing power. Like Gold Misses and Sheng Nu they but luxury items for the sake of their own pleasure.

In India a similar target group has not been named yet, but the same demographical, social and economic development also occurs here. Indian women’s income has for instance doubled within the past decade.

Unique and digital

For companies who wishes to position themselves on the Asian market, Dae Ryun Chang suggests three strategies that may prove to be very effective first steps:

  1. Help them distinguish themselves. These young women see themselves as pioneers and trendsetters, and thus marketing that targets them should be individualized and for instance offer the opportunity of customizing colors, accessories or taste.

  2. Create a domino effect for their “fans”. The product and brand preferences of Gold Misses can be a catalyst for greater demand among other women who want to copy their role models. Luxury items can for instance exploit this by developing cheaper alternatives.

  3. Be present digitally and socially. These women enjoy and can afford to spoil themselves, but they have no time to go shopping. On account of this and the fact that Asian women use online shopping far more than for instance European women, a web shop might be a good idea. Also social networks such as Pinterest and Instagram are very popular in Asia, which means that a presence on these platforms can prove to be a great advantage for foreign companies.