Apple overtook Louis Vuitton and Hermes, and far outranked Samsung, as the No. 1 gifting brand of choice during the second half of 2014. More than 20% of China's richest men and nearly 19% of its wealthiest women identified Apple as their preferred brand for giving gifts, according to the survey results included in the Hurun report. Samsung, meanwhile, ranked as the ninth best brand for giving gifts by women and the 10th best by men.
The Hurun Research Institute surveyed 376 Chinese millionaires with an average wealth of $6.8 million for its 11th annual "Best of the Best Awards," which identify the brand affinities and lifestyle trends of the country's rich.
Though the survey focuses on the expressed gift-giving preferences of China's upper classes, it highlights Apple's growing popularity in the country.
Already, China is Apple's second largest iPhone market, and the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 models are proving to be big hits with Chinese customers. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company is continuing to invest heavily in China to further boost its revenue and profit, which came in at $74.6 billion and $18 billion, respectively, in Apple's fiscal 2015 first quarter.
The investments are paying off handsomely. In the December quarter, Apple pulled in $16.14 billion in revenue from the Greater China region, a 70% increase from a year before. The company noted iPhone sales doubled year over year in China, thanks in large part to China Mobile's (CHL) gaining access to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in October. China Mobile is the world's largest carrier.
Aplle, which opened two new stores in China in January, is also on track to have 40 stores in the region by the middle of 2016, CFO Luca Maestri said following Apple's latest earnings report.
Apple's online revenue in China in the first quarter was more than the sum of the previous five years, CEO Tim Cook said.
"And so it's an incredible market," Cook said of China on the earnings call. "I think people love Apple products and we are going to do our best to serve the market."
When coupled with the results of the Hurun Research Institute survey, Apple's China prospects look even more promising as the world's most populous country prepares to celebrate the Chinese New Year on Feb. 19. Apple has aired its first ad in China for the season. It emulates an ad called "The Song" that ran in the U.S. during the holiday season.