Are Chinese middle-aged men the next big luxury spenders?

Chinese male shoppers are entering the spotlight and this is not the little fresh meat we’re talking about. An account called @ 云 爸爸 品牌 男装, also known as Yunbaba, which sells clothing for middle-aged men has recently gained ground on Douyin.

In one of his famous live streams, four men trying to wear their 1950s sports designer clothes while dancing to attract customers. Comedy performances drew tens of thousands of viewers, as did comments from netizens who said they wanted their fathers to emulate the Yunbaba style.

Douyin account @Men’s clothing from the Cloud Dad brand (Yunbaba) has gained over 1 million fans. Photo: screenshot, Douyin

According to a report by data analytics firm iiMedia Research, the Chinese men’s apparel industry was worth $ 104 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.47% over the next five years. In a country of over 1.4 billion people, it’s no surprise that male customers are eager to have a say in tailoring, hence the phrase ta jingji, or “He economy”.

Menswear as a segment (including ready-to-wear, accessories, shoes and bespoke fashion) is gaining popularity across China, from tier one cities to small rural towns. As a result of the country’s rapid growth across sectors, male consumers are willing to spend more money on luxury goods. While Gen-Z male customers have stimulated the Chinese fashion market, middle-aged men have a higher discretionary income and are better equipped to spend..

According to the market research firm Euromonitor, foreign luxury e fast fashion brands dominate the menswear market in higher-tier Chinese cities. Classic luxury menswear names such as Ralph Lauren, Prada and Louis Vuitton also benefited from development offers from major Chinese cities. For example, LVMH chose the eastern coastal city of Qingdao after Shenzhen to launch the Louis Vuitton & Exhibition; meanwhile, Ralph Lauren staked on his classic American style and hit the mark in Chengdu’s southwestern consumer center.

Chinese menswear brands are taking notes. With their competitive advantages, such as location, pricing, and customer experience, they are able to pinpoint what Chinese middle-aged men really want. Indeed, according to data from Statista, the revenue of the Chinese men’s clothing market reached $ 92.3 billion in 2020, surpassing the United States for the first time.

Local brand of menswear drinking straw, known for classic tailored suits and suits, invites male customers to his themed fashion round tables. He also collaborates with top local designers and artists such as Liu Pingyun (who designed the mascot of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics), to create eye-catching pieces for the middle-aged segment.

Canudilo collaborated with visual artist Liu Pingyun to present his Fall / Winter 2022 collection. Photo: Weibo by Canudilo

However, in a market dominated by younger shoppers, there are few options for middle-aged men. Mr. Wang Xiang, who has worked in the marketing field in Beijing for years, says he has many friends in the fashion industry, but “even for them, the best choices are polo shirts, jeans and trench coats.” Andeven as the menswear market accelerates, options for older male shoppers are limited.

Zhongyi Thinktank’s report shows that among stores and malls in 321 cities nationwide, men’s clothing retail accounts for only 10.18% on average, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen have the lowest percentage. at 7%. “Malls are not motivated to bring middle-aged menswear brands into the ecosystem. It’s not easy to feed on middle-aged men, especially during the pandemic, “said Renee Ouyang, general manager of Huirun Shopping Center in Guangzhou. Daily Jing.

That said, the potential is hard to ignore. According to iResearch.com, annual spending on men’s personal image is higher than that of women on Chinese e-payment platforms in 2019. Especially in the upper income bracket, men spend 1.7 times more on image building and personal hobbies than women.

Influenced by social media, middle-aged Chinese men are becoming slightly more open when it comes to style. Dress codes are becoming more casual, expressive and gender-fluid, with the likes of Rick Owens, JWAnderson and Jil Sander selling unconventional silhouettes and styles. Other brands are also jumping on the bandwagon and launching unisex collections to offer more choices to men and women of different ages.

If luxury brands are to win this demographic, stereotypes must be overlooked. Mark Xu, another Beijing-based PR expert, offered some encouragement to brands looking to take advantage of the opportunity of Chinese middle-aged men: “Men are too shy to discuss how to dress if their bodies are out of shape. . The problem is not money, but the market still has a lot to do to educate this group ”.