(Demo) Destination Macau 2010 : Page 74
brands, and the more upscale Four Seasons Shop- pes. The Boulevard at the City of Dreams not only has a watch-themed store (‘Timeless’), but also pre- miered such brands as Ralph Lauren and Vivienne Westwood in Macau. One Central Macau, which opened at the end of 2009, brought a fresh wave of flagship stores like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Cartier, Bulgari, Gucci, Fendi, Dior and Dolce & Gabbana under one roof, offering a shopping experience on par with Hong Kong. “As these brands set up their boutiques or flagship stores in Macau, they are showing their power,” Hoff- mann explains. And according to Hoffmann, Macau offers some of the best retail spaces in the world. “From the Mandarin Oriental’s lobby mall to today’s One Central Macau, you can find nearly all top brands in Macau. Look at Chanel’s or Dior’s displays and the spaces they occupy, and you get an idea of how important the Macau market is to these brands.” Although the retail spaces customers carrying million dollars in cash and buying up top watches are commonplace in Macau. Both Timeless at The Boulevard and Wynn & Co Watches & Jewelry at the Wynn Macau revealed that haute horlogerie is a hot item these days. Both shops ordered dozens of top watches from Switzerland before Chinese New Year, and in both cases, the watches were snatched up almost instantly. Produc- tion – which is necessarily slow and precise – liter- ally can’t catch up to demand created by the nouveau riche Chinese market. So willing are these custom- ers to buy up anything with a high price tag that even moribund brands like Chaumet and Boucheron have set up flagship stores in the region and engineered a revival. “China has a huge population. are impressive, one cannot help but notice that they are usually devoid of customers. “Many peo- ple have this kind of doubts; they look at the Four Seasons Shoppes or One Central Macau, and it all seems quiet, with little apparent foot traffic,” Hoffmann agrees. “It makes one wonder whether there’s enough business for the brands who have invested so much here. But the fact is, most brands are very happy with the growth and business they have in Macau.” As Hoffmann points out, no customers in the shop does not equate to no business. Many of the big spenders will most likely be tucked away in a VIP room, or have their private shopper bring products to their hotel room for their selection. They certainly don’t need to be seen wandering through the stores. Fashion brands often want to attract shoppers with multi-level spaces and alluring window displays – but it’s actually the watch and jewelry brands with small shopfronts that enjoy the higher sales volume-to-space ratio. Unlike jewelry, wristwatches are near-necessi- ties for both men and women, and also represent a potential long-term investment. Rumors of Chinese 74 Destination macau APR / MAY 2010 “a watch is a must. when buYing up, theY start with a luxurY watch ... men compare and discuss watches, and theY need a watch of a cer- tain qualitY to be part of the social circle.” Each province has more peo- ple than a small European coun- try. And nowadays, the customers come not only from Shanghai or Beijing and the big cities, but from as far away as Heilongjiang or Inner Mongolia,” an industry insider observes. To China’s nouveau riche, lux- ury goods are not a symbol of good taste, superior craftsmanship, engineering, design or heritage – they’re no more or less than a blunt shorthand of status. “A watch is a must,” says Sandy Chen, research director, TNS China. “When buy- ing up, they start with a luxury watch, next comes the luxury car, and last is the luxury apartment. Men compare and discuss watches, and they need a watch of a certain quality to be part of the social circle.” The most aspirational brand is Rolex, cited by 31 percent of consumers in a survey of men and women with monthly household income above RMB9,000 (US$1,300), as reported in the 2009 TNS China Lux- ury Study. Omega (18 percent), Vacheron Constantin (nine percent), Longines (eight percent) and Cartier (seven percent) follow. Undoubtedly, the Chinese shop still overwhelm- ingly by brand rather than model. They are still at the early stages of luxury consumption, and because of this, the brands are making a great effort to cap- ture their hearts. And increasingly, Macau is in their crosshairs.