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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Men are more likely than women to opt for a luxury brand when buying handbags -- and it's the label, not the price, that counts, according to a survey of wealthy shoppers.
The Luxury Institute on Tuesday said the demand for luxury bags remains strong, with about one third of 1,500 wealthy American shoppers surveyed buying a branded bag in the last 12 months.
"The luxury handbag is the accessory that defines the wealthy woman and is a major profit driver for luxury fashion brands," said Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the New York-based researcher focused on wealthy consumers.
The Luxury Institute found that men were more likely than women to reach for a luxury label when buying a handbag -- 73 percent of men, compared with 50 percent of women -- and over three times more likely to choose luxury French brand Chanel.
But overall, U.S. label Coach has become the most popular bag among wealthy shoppers, leading with a 29 percent market share with other brands compete heavily for the rest of the pie.
The survey of shoppers with an average income of $308,000 and average net worth of $3.1 million found Coach was the most familiar brand of designer handbags, recognized by 52 percent of respondents.
That compared to 24 percent for Gucci, 22 percent for Louis Vuitton, and 21 percent for Prada.
But familiarity with the pricier Italian brands rises as wealth increases, according to the report.
Looking at consumers whose yearly paycheck was above $300,000, the survey found that 38 percent were familiar with Coach, while 34 percent were aware of Gucci.
Price did not come into the equation even though bags from luxury fashion houses such as Chanel, Prada and Gucci, owned by parent company PPR, can cost in the thousands of dollars, while Coach bags generally cost hundreds of dollars.
Consumers said the price was not as important a consideration as quality and reputation when judging between luxury brands.