“What kind of person buys a Ferrari," I asked.
“Very rich.” She was
the consummate professional. Polite, but giving nothing away. So I tried a different tact: “How many
do you sell a year?”
the dealership sells 15 cars in total?”
“No, we sell 15 430s a year. All Ferrari Red of course.”
“Mostly men, but in recent months we have been selling quite a few to women.”
“What kind of women?”
“One as young as 19.”
“She was 19. She came in with her mother and father. She
really liked it, and her Dad paid by Visa.” (And I was worried
about my credit card bill a few months ago because I had ordered a stack of books from Amazon.)
Most people who buy Ferraris, it seems, pay by credit card.
I asked Cherry about herself. She
told me that she is from a city several hours by train north of here (I passed through it a few days ago). She
came to study at the top university here, where she graduated with a degree in history.
“Do you have a car?”, I asked.
“No, I can’t afford one.”
“Do you have a one?”, she asked.
“Yes, similar to this one”,
I said, pointing to the Ferrari.
She realised that I was of course joking.
“In what way similar?” she asked with a smile.
“Well, it’s red, and has four wheels.”
“If you don’t have a car, then what do you like to spend your
money on?”, I asked.
“After I have made the mortgage payment to the Bank of China, there’s not a lot left over.”
The vast majority of young people live
with their parents until their late 20s, usually until – or even after – they’ve got married; but increasingly
young people are renting and even buying their own property. But the
young people who have moved away from their hometown for economic reasons have no choice – they have to find a place
(quite often with friends in the same boat). But Cherry’s
situation is, of course, not typical.
I was polite enough not to ask her
how much commission she received per sale, but it was clear that a Ferrari salesperson earns more than a Starbuck’s
“Wow,” I said. I’m
sure the place has increased in value since you bought it.
She beamed. “It certainly has. I bought it in 2004 with a 15 year mortgage. Since then it has doubled in price”.
do you do with your spare cash?”
“What little spare money I have, I love to spend on shopping…
I like to buy fashionable clothes, shoes and accessories… The best place to go for these is the Plaza, just opposite
the train station. There are hundreds of little boutiques –
all underground; so it’s an ideal place to go when it’s cold outside.”
“What brands do you like,”
buy good quality clothes that are stylish”
That is clearly
the case. She wore a very smart pin-striped charcoal two-piece suit, a white
silk blouse with a leather tie-up holding a silver pendant. Her hair
literally shone under the bright lights of the dealership.
“I can’t afford the brands I really like,”
“I love LV”
(she said “LV” in English, and then said the name in full, in long drawn-out syllables, to emphasise the
"Why do you like LOU-IS VUIT-TON?" I asked.
"Because of its history. I love
its history. Its SO Romantic."
Cherry, as with many young people I have spoken with, is drawn to brands that have a story to tell, as well
as a unique heritage. But, as with Ferrari, heritage only works if the brand has stayed ahead of the competition
where it really matters: in terms of quality, reliability and performance. Cherry, although a history graduate, displays
a science graduate's understanding of the brands she loves.