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Super rich losing their taste for top liquor in China

By Ye Zhen   (Shanghai Daily)

09:25, January 16, 2013

(File Photo)

Luxury liquor and expensive watches lost their allure as gifts among China's super rich following government crackdowns on corruption and the lavish lifestyles of some officials, according to a Hurun survey.

The country's premium liquor brand, Moutai, dropped out of the top 10 preferred brands for gifting by men among the country's millionaires, falling to 13th place from 5th the previous year.

The Chinese Luxury Consumer Survey 2013 surveyed 551 Chinese mainland residents with a personal wealth of 10 million yuan (US$1.6 million) or more.

Known as China's official state banquet liquor, Moutai usually sells for about 1,800 yuan a bottle. But its popularity has been under pressure since last year when the Chinese government beefed up efforts to ban luxury food and liquor at official receptions in an effort to trim excessive public spending.

In December, China's Central Military Commission issued a ban on senior military officers holding luxury banquets. Alcoholic drinks were also banned.

Moutai saw a 5.6 percent drop in its share price a day after the regulation was announced and an estimated 12.5 billion yuan was wiped off its market value.

French wine maker Chateau Lafite was the only drinks brand to make the Top 10 brands for gifting by men, ranking in 10th place.

Luxury watches, mostly Swiss, were shunned by China's super rich, after costly timepieces turned out to be smoking guns for corrupt officials.

The public, and especially Internet users, questioned how public servants could afford the fancy watches seen on their wrists in photographs.

Swiss watchmaker Longines was the only watch brand to make the list, ranking at 15th with men and replacing Rolex, which was 9th in 2012 but dropped off the list this year.

"This year, there is a clear trend toward gifting more modestly priced top luxury goods," the report said.

The top five brands for gifting by men are Louis Vuitton, Apple, Hermes, Chanel and Cartier. The top five brands for gifting by women are Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Tiffany and Apple.

The survey found only one in four millionaires "extremely confident" about the future of the economy. The number was a four-year low.

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