Handbags: Price over label?

Isaac Mostovicz writes...


Earlier this month the Luxury Institute released a survey that found that when buying a handbag, men in the US are more concerned with the label than with the price compared to women. 73% of men looked first to the label when buying a handbag (compared to 50% of women), and men were three times as likely to choose Chanel.

It would have been interesting if the Luxury Institute had determined (or at least released) what the actually percentage of spending on handbags is for men versus women. I have a sneaking suspicion that women purchase the vast majority of handbags for themselves and men buy only a tiny percentage as gifts. US leather goods seller Coach was the most familiar brand of designer handbags, recognized by 52% of respondents. 24% recognized Gucci, 22% Louis Vuitton and 21% Prada.

This makes sense—Coach bags are relatively mid-range (costing several hundred dollars) compared to European labels whose bags can cost in the thousands. Men may choose the fancy bags on the basis of brand but women are buying more of the cheaper Coach bags as they’re less concerned with label compared to other factors like price and quality.

If it is true that women buy the vast majority of handbags, the marketing challenge is then to get men to buy more handbags for women. This completely opposes the status quo in the jewelry industry, in which the goal is for women to buy more jewelry for themselves.

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