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Apple's a hot ticket for China's 'luxury consumers'

The Hurun Research Institute says iPhones and other Apple gadgets are the most popular gifts among China's wealthy, beating out luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel.

The Apple Watch was the star of November's Vogue China. Vogue China

iPhone maker Apple has watched its business grow considerably in China over the past year, and now it's the leader in gifting among China's richest people.

Apple products, ranging from iPhones to Macbooks, were the most popular gifted items among China's "luxury consumers" in 2014, beating out luxury brands Louis Vuitton and Chanel, the China-based Hurun Research Institute announced Thursday.

Apple led the field among men, with 20 percent of respondents saying they gifted Apple products in 2014. Hurun found that 18.9 percent of women did the same. LVMH and Chanel were in second place among men and women, respectively. Apple in 2013 took the second spot behind luxury brand Hermes.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hurun Research Institute is part of the Hurun Report, a monthly magazine run by former accountant Rupert Hoogewerf, who goes by the name Hu Run. The Hurun Report provides monthly updates on the wealthiest people across China, ranking their wealth, analyzing their philanthropy and monitoring their spending. The reports date back to 1999, when Hoogewerf created China's Rich List.

It's a sparkly achievement for Apple to nab that top spot. Apple products tend to sell for hundreds of dollars more than competitors from China-based companies. Earlier this week, for instance, Apple smartphone competitor Xiaomi announced that its Note and Note Pro phablets sold out in less than three minutes. The devices, which come with a 5.7-inch screen and high-end specs that match the iPhone 6 Plus on some levels, are on sale for hundreds of dollars less than Apple's model.

Apple has been slowly but surely building a presence in the fashion space in China over the past several months. After unveiling its Apple Watch wearable last fall, the company's device showed up on the cover of Vogue China -- a magazine that showcases fashion and caters to wealthier individuals.

Apple's earnings report earlier this week suggests that wealthy individuals aren't the only ones in China who desire its products. The company revealed that during the three-month period ended December 27, its China sales were up 70 percent year-over-year to $16.1 billion. Hitting that number could only be possible by also attracting the country's burgeoning middle class.

Apple wasn't the only technology company to make Hurun's list. Samsung products were the 10th-most-gifted by men in 2014 and ninth among women, the report said.

Hurun's data is based on surveys of 376 mainland China millionaires who possess wealth of at least $1.6 million. The average wealth for participants in the study was $6.8 million and the average age was 38.