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The famous baijiu brand Moutai has fallen out of the top 10 preferred brands used as business or personal gifts by China's millionaires, according to a new report, but it was still the only Chinese brand to make it into the top 15.
The Hurun Report's Chinese Luxury Consumer Survey 2013, released on Tuesday, showed the Chinese liquor brand dropped from 5th place last year to 13th in the list of preferred gift brands.
Rupert Hoogewerf, founder and chief researcher of the Hurun Report, a leading luxury publishing and events group, said he wasn't surprised the brand had fallen down the list of gifts favored by the rich, given the government's recent ban on officials' spending excessively on expensive gifts.
"Its drop in popularity came on the back of the public debate on whether government officials, the largest customer base for Moutai, should be allowed to consume what is effectively a luxury brand with its main product retailing at 1,800 yuan ($289) a bottle, and also a health scare involving the use of plasticizers," said Hoogewerf.
Established in 1999 by Hoogewerf, the Hurun Report is widely recognized as the country's foremost tracker of the various changes taking place among China's so-called high net worth individuals.
The latest gifts report is based on a survey of 551 Chinese mainland millionaires who each has a personal net worth in excess of 10 million yuan.
The report also showed that as well as gifts of baijiu falling in popularity, luxury watches have also dropped down the list, which it suggested was strongly influenced by the recent, much-publicized case of Yang Dacai, a former head of the work safety administration in Shaanxi province, who was discovered to be in possession of many expensive watches that cost far more than his salary.
The report showed that the Swiss watchmaker Longines was the only watch brand to make the list, coming in at 15th place, replacing the more expensive Rolex, which dropped off the list altogether this year.
"This year, there is a clear trend toward gifting more modestly priced top luxury goods," Hoogewerf added, explaining that the tougher economic conditions in 2012, coupled with the country's new political leadership's intended crackdown on corruption, meant that many previously generous individuals were showing more restraint in offering gifts.
The report showed that the French winemaker Chateau Lafite was the only drinks brand to make the Top 10, which it described as "a clear representation of the Chinese luxury consumers' newfound love of wine".
Items produced by the electronics giant Apple Inc rose from fourth place last year to second place this year as the preferred gift brand by men, and the only digital product brand making it into the Top 10.
In terms of origin, French gifts still appeared to be very much in vogue, dominating the list.
Louis Vuitton was seen as the most preferred brand for gifts from men, as 13.9 percent of interviewees showed preference for it.
Chanel was voted the best brand for gifts from women, taking 15.9 percent of the female vote.
The fashion brand Burberry was the United Kingdom name to make the Top10 this year.
And Gucci and Montblanc also performed well, both making into the Top 10 for the first time.
Despite tougher economic conditions this year, it appears that the amounts being spent are still eye-watering to the average consumers.
Yu Kang, a 56-year-old billionaire and Shanghai property developer, spent about 2 million yuan on gifts last year.
"I preferred widely recognized luxury items valued at more than 10,000 yuan, such as Hermes and Chanel bags, Cartier jewelry, and Montblanc pens," said Yu.
The billionaire also admitted to sending gifts including more than 50 iPhones, 10 iPad3s, five iPad minis, and a dozen Macbooks to his business partners and friends.
Huang Le, a 53-year-old businesswoman running a shoe trading company in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, added that she hadn't given out any branded bags as gifts in the past year, saying they are not as valuable as diamond jewelry and watches.
Huang said she had bought various Cartier diamond rings and a watch by Patek Philippe as New Year gifts for close friends and regular business contacts.
"I don't think it is very appropriate to send gifts valued any less than 200,000 yuan per item, and that's quite common among businesswomen," said Huang.
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(China Daily 01/16/2013 page13)