“What kind of person buys a Ferrari," I asked.
“Rich people,” she teased.
“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?”
“What, 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.”
“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
“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.
what way similar?” she asked with a smile.
it’s red, and has four wheels.”
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 there 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 Starbuck’s waitress.
“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”.
“But what 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,” I asked.
“I usually 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, naturally black, literally shone
under the bright lights of the dealership.
“I can’t afford the brands I really like,” she confided.
“I love LV” (she said “LV” in English,
and then said the name in full, in long drawn-out syllables, to emphasise the point):
"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...