SINGAPORE Jan 15 A Chinese government crackdown
on lavish spending by officials has pushed expensive liquor and
high-end watches out of favour in the luxury gift-giving market,
a survey from the Hurun Report, known for its annual China Rich
List, showed on Tuesday.
Top alcohol maker Kweichow Moutai Co Ltd saw its
clear 'baijiu' liquor -- widely imbibed at official banquets and
presented as a premium gift -- fall to 13th place on the "best
brand for gifting by men" table, down from fifth last year when
there was a single, mixed-gender table, according to the report.
Swiss watchmaker Longines was the only watch brand to make
the "gifting by men" list at number 15, replacing Rolex, which
was ninth in 2012 but dropped off the list altogether this year.
The report surveyed 551 Chinese with personal wealth of 10
million yuan ($1.6 million) or more.
The results follow a government crackdown, launched in March
last year, on using public funds to buy luxury items such as
baijiu, which can cost several thousand yuan per bottle. In
December, alcohol was banned at military events.
"Watches and liquor have been influenced by government
policies and have been pulled down by a change in leadership.
It's traditionally been that in government there are people who
can influence policy in your favour," Hurun founder Rupert
Hoogewerf told Reuters.
State media have reported a wave of corruption and
abuse-of-power cases since November's senior leadership
transition in the ruling Communist Party. In one case, an
official was sacked after Internet photos showed him wearing a
number of different luxury-brand watches.
The official Xinhua News Agency reported in late December
that the luxury ban on officials had hit the share prices of
listed liquor distillers.
Market leader Moutai had 12.5 billion yuan wiped off its
market value after the new regulations were announced.
Moutai's fall meant there was not a single Chinese brand in
the top 10, and only one in the top 15 on the men's gift list.
France dominated with six brands out of the top 10 in the
men's list and four in the women's, including luxury accessory
and apparel makers Louis Vuitton and Chanel.
However, less expensive gifts were the order of the day.
"With the current anti-corruption drive, officials can no
longer receive blatantly expensive products, so we're seeing a
trend towards less-expensive giving," said Hoogewerf.
(Editing by John Ruwitch)