In the clothing and luxury categories, male spending is growing at a faster rate than female spending. Luxury gentlemen make fewer purchases, but their average transaction is much larger, which gives them disproportionate spending share. IBM expects spending on men’s apparel to increase at a rate of 8 percent in 2012 over almost record spending in 2011. When looking for reasons behind the expansion, many analysts point to television shows like “Mad Men” as well as to the proliferation of websites and blogs dedicated to gentlemen’s apparel.
To capitalize on these trends, retailers need to start by looking at emerging markets. Accounting firm KPMG classifies the male luxury customer in China, for example, as a connoisseur. He is over 35, based in a city and has a good deal of spending power. Marketing to the Chinese gentleman, according to KPMG, means appealing to his appreciation for uniqueness and heritage as well as catering to his desire for a high level of craftsmanship.
Another key to marketing to today’s gentleman is differentiation. In addition to creating a more masculine shopping environment, stores should develop separate marketing materials including different brand ambassadors for their menswear lines. Shoe designers Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin have capitalized on the trend and have started to design new shoe lines for men. Coach has opened mens-only shops in the U.S. and Japan, and the company believes that it will grow its men’s division from $200 million to over $1 billion by 2017.
Dressed for Success
Luxury brands should also remember their responsibility to the gentleman customer who is rewarding himself for “making it.” In other words, products and stores have to embody what success feels like. Store environment, cleanliness and product presentation should all communicate a message of success that matches the positioning of the brand. Men should be steered toward clothing of the best cut and fit for their physique by sales personnel who know the product and who do not discuss price or value. Additionally, sales personnel should never hesitate to recommend accessories such as a watch, shoes or a shoulder bag so that the gentleman can fully display his achievements to the world.