China's metrosexual men revive luxury shopping

Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:11am EST
 
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By Yimou Lee and Farah Master

HONG KONG/MACAU (Reuters) - Let's hear it for the boys. China's fashion-forward men are snapping up Gucci and Burberry bags, driving a rebound in the luxury market months after a slow down in spending by the world's biggest luxury goods buyers spooked global investors.

Men account for about 55 percent of China's luxury goods market, well above the global average of 40 percent, according to research from brokerage CLSA, partly because businessmen often buy expensive gifts to curry favour with government officials or potential associates.

Companies such as Burberry Group Plc and LVMH which sell luxe clothing and accessories benefit from this gift-giving culture, and wealthy Chinese men's penchant for designer ware.

But they are also at risk of big sales swings because men are less likely than women to splurge on discretionary purchases in times of economic uncertainty, CLSA's research shows.

"Men are not prone to impulse shopping," said Mariana Kou, CLSA's consumer and gaming analyst in Hong Kong. "They tend to wait a little if the economy is pretty uncertain."

Chinese shoppers account for one-fourth of all luxury purchases globally and last year surpassed U.S. consumers to become the world's top spenders on luxury goods, according to consulting firm Bain & Co.

When China's economic growth slowed to a three-year low in the middle of last year, luxury demand dropped suddenly, sending shudders through a global market worth $280 billion last year according to Bain's estimates.

Burberry warned of weak sales in July and again in September, sparking fears of a sector-wide slump.   Continued...

 
A man watches in front of a window display outside a Gucci store at Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district in Hong Kong January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Bobby Yip