China, Socialism & Consumer Behavior: luxury brands having to unlearn gender stereotypes

As western luxury brands rush to tap the Chinese market they are having to unlearn gender stereotypes associated with the products they sell.

Chinese women buy more whisky and fast cars than their western counterparts, for example, while men purchase more face creams and bags. Coach, the US leather brand, says men represent 45 per cent of the $1.7bn Chinese market for luxury bags and accessories, compared with 15 per cent globally.

At one Shanghai Prada store, the shop assistant explains that Chinese men have more of a penchant for male handbags partly because they need to carry so much cash. “Many shops don’t take credit cards here,” she explains while stroking a Rmb4,800 ($745) black leather clutch that would require a stack of renminbi at least an inch thick to buy.

Victor Luis, president of Coach’s international business, says “man bags” are popular in China because they satisfy practical needs that are not counteracted by exaggerated notions of manliness.

L’Oréal sees a similar trend. The French group sells more male grooming products in mainland China than in western Europe. It says Chinese men see appearance as key to social and professional success. A glimpse at the jet black hairdos of China’s top political leaders – most of whom are elderly – drives home the point that Chinese men are enthusiastic consumers of hair dye.

McKinsey says women in China are increasing their spending on luxury goods twice as fast as men, prompting western companies to try to understand what makes Chinese women tick.

read more via China’s women show taste for fast cars and whisky – FT.com.

Itamar Medeiros

Originally from Brazil, Itamar Medeiros currently lives in Germany, where he works as Lead Product Design Strategist at SAP and promotes User Experience Design as visiting lecturer at Köln International School of Design. Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, Itamar Medeiros has helped truly global companies in several countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, The Netherlands, Poland, United Arab Emirates, United States) create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles. During his 7 years in China, he championed the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai

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