New research from McKinsey & Co. indicates that, by 2015, China will be home to the world's fourth-largest population of wealthy households, an estimated 4.4 million. McKinsey also reports that presently, about 80% of China's wealthy are between the ages of 18 and 45 (versus 30% in the US). Jing Ulrich, the chairman of China equities at Morgan Stanley, was recently quoted in Forbes as saying of China, "With the global recovery unlikely to be smooth, domestic demand is likely to remain the primary engine of growth in the remainder of 2009." In a Wall Street Journal op-ed last year, Zachary Karabell argued that "the rise of the Chinese consumer is the only thing standing between them [global companies] and a decline in their business."

And Chinese consumers are ready to spend. Ruder Finn Asia recently partnered with Albatross Global Solutions in developing the 2009 China Luxury Forecast, which found that, in Greater China as a whole, more than half (50.3%) of respondents claim they will not let the global economic downturn affect their purchase of luxury goods. Additionally, the Forecast found the Chinese buyer to be remarkably loyal, with nearly nine out of ten (89.3%) respondents saying they would stick to their preferred luxury brand despite the crisis.

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