China's metrosexual men revive luxury shopping

China's metrosexual men revive luxury shopping - Let's hear it for the boys. China's fashion-forward men are snapping up Gucci and Burberry bags, driving a rebound in the luxury market months after a slow down in spending by the world's biggest luxury goods buyers spooked global investors.

Men account for about 55 percent of China's luxury goods market, well above the global average of 40 percent, according to research from brokerage CLSA, partly because businessmen often buy expensive gifts to curry favor with government officials or potential associates. 
Reuters/Reuters - A man watches in front of a window display outside a Gucci store at Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district in Hong Kong January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Companies such as Burberry Group Plc which sell luxe clothing and accessories benefit from this gift-giving culture, and wealthy Chinese men's penchant for designer ware.

But they are also at risk of big sales swings because men are less likely than women to splurge on discretionary purchases in times of economic uncertainty, CLSA's research shows.

"Men are not prone to impulse shopping," said Mariana Kou, CLSA's consumer and gaming analyst in Hong Kong. "They tend to wait a little if the economy is pretty uncertain."

Chinese shoppers account for one-fourth of all luxury purchases globally and last year surpassed U.S. consumers to become the world's top spenders on luxury goods, according to consulting firm Bain & Co.

When China's economic growth slowed to a three-year low in the middle of last year, luxury demand dropped suddenly, sending shudders through a global market worth $280 billion last year according to Bain's estimates.

Burberry warned of weak sales in July and again in September, sparking fears of a sector-wide slump.

But as China's growth picked up to 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter after seven straight quarters of slowdown, sales rebounded. Burberry said last week its Asia-Pacific sales rose 15 percent in the three months to December, led by China and Hong Kong, while its European business was flat and the Americas up just 2 percent.

Sales of men's clothing were up more than 50 percent over the final three months of 2012, Burberry said, and men's accessories such as handbags rose nearly 40 percent.

"We remain very confident about the growth prospects for the China market generally," Burberry's Chief Financial Officer Stacey Cartwright said after the quarterly data was announced.

"Specifically quarter by quarter it's always difficult to call. We are encouraged by the rebound that we've seen in this quarter," she added.


Burberry's bounce-back lifted the shares of its high-end peers. The Dow Jones luxury index rose 2.1 percent last week and is up 6 percent so far this year, double the 3 percent rise in the broader MSCI world equity index in 2013. China's economic revival may help lift the sector further.

Just last week, customers toting paper bags bearing the logos of Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci, Prada and other global luxury brands were out in force at malls in Hong Kong and Macau, two nearby destinations for wealthy mainland Chinese shoppers.

Personal assistant Da Fei trailed behind his boss, a real estate businessman from Mongolia, carrying items from Hermes and Kenzo through the upscale One Central Macau shopping center in China's gambling capital.

"He likes to buy everything, particularly Hermes and Gucci," Da Fei said as his boss, decked out in salmon pink trousers and a black and white shirt, browsed inside a Kenzo store.

At the Gucci store in Macau's Wynn casino, four men clustered around a glass counter examining leather wallets, while seven other men browsed items such as the 6,000 patacas ($750) shoulder bags. Only two women were in the shop at the same time, while other customers queued up outside, waiting for security guards to let them in.


Luxury looks like it could stay strong through the first quarter, largely due to the Chinese New Year celebrations in February and then the National People's Congress in March, where government positions will be confirmed - and gifts bestowed.

Data from Hong Kong, a popular shopping destination for wealthy mainland Chinese, shows retail sales are starting to perk up. They jumped 9.5 percent on the year in November, with jewelry, watches and other valuables up 13.7 percent after a 2.9 percent decline in October.

About 3 million mainland Chinese visited Hong Kong in November, up 30 percent from a year earlier, according to the tourism board. Macau's numbers paled by comparison, with a 3 percent rise to 1.5 million mainland visitors for the month.

But with Beijing cracking down on corruption, retail watchers caution that China may not deliver the explosive growth that made it a vital market for luxury brands after the global financial crisis in 2008.

Chinese buyers backed away from buying bling before the once-a-decade Party Congress in October, when new leadership was announced, so the strong November figures from Hong Kong may reflect a burst of pent-up demand.

Sales of watches and pricey liquor took the biggest hit after the corruption crackdown, according to a survey from the Hurun Report, known for its annual China Rich List.

Consumers are also becoming more choosy and sophisticated, preferring more inconspicuous luxury goods to logo-centric names such as Louis Vuitton.

But with 1.3 billion consumers, many with a strong inclination for expensive brands that scream status, China remains a driving force in the luxury market.

"The intention to purchase is very high right across the board, from Coach to Bottega Veneta," said Shanghai-based author Paul French, chief China market strategist at Mintel, which specializes in Chinese consumer trends.

"I think the only reason there was a dip was because the gifting market, the corruption market was of course weak last year because you didn't know who to buy for." ( Reuters )

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7 Strategies for Highly Effective New Year's Resolutions

7 Strategies for Highly Effective New Year's Resolutions - New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. It’s likely that at least one person will ask you what your resolutions are for the year ahead. Whether you like to make them or not, research has found that people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions. Yet as you know, it’s not so easy to keep your resolve as life returns to normal and your old habits of mind and action start testing your resolve and pulling you away from the new ones you resolved to create.

Change is difficult, yet as hard as it is, everyone has the ability to make and keep meaningful changes in their life, regardless of their age, or how well worn their habitual ways of engaging in the world.

Indeed there’s a science to success when it comes to achieving goals and making life changes – whether on January 1st or any other time of year. On the link below are 7 strategies to help you make the changes you want in the year ahead – including making the right resolutions to begin with. I hope you will read it, but more so, I hope you will apply them so that 2013 will truly be the best year of your life. Not because everything will go as you want, but because you be firmly at the helm of your own life – living by design rather than by default.

7 Strategies for Highly Effective New Year Resolutions.

1. Know Your Why.

For a resolution to stick, it has to be aligned with your core values. We all want to look better or get richer, but your resolutions have to go beyond superficial desires and connect with what truly matters most to you. In other words, you have to “Know your why” and feel truly passionate about the goals you set for yourself. If you don’t, then when the going gets tough or your alarm goes off at 5:30am, you won’t have the resolve to stick to your plan. Connect your resolutions to those things that give you a deeper sense of purpose and align with your core values. When your resolutions connect to a deeper sense of purpose, it compels you not to think small or play safe, but to dig deep and stay the course when the going gets tough – no matter how many hurdles.

2. Be Specific.

Resolutions to ‘eat better, get fitter, be happier, relax more or have better life balance’ are doomed for failure because they lack specificity. The more specific you are, the more likely you will be able to succeed. Describe your goals and resolutions in ways that allow you to track your progress and measure your success. For instance, if you want to build a better relationship with your partner, schedule at least one date night per month, or, as I’ve done with my husband, one weekend away – sans kids – per year. Likewise if you’re committed to a better health and exercise regime, schedule how many workouts you’ll fit into each week.

3. Don’t Just Think It, Ink it! 

 A Stanford University study found that when people wrote down their goal, it increased the probability of them achieving it by over 70%. But don’t just write down the specific goal, write down how you will feel when you’ve accomplished it. When you have finished penning your desires, jot down on sticky pads the words that inspire you most about your goal and put them around your home/office to remind you of why you are committed to doing what it takes to bring your goal into reality.

4. Design Your Environment. 

 Never underestimate the power of your environment to support or sabotage your success. Design your environment so that it’s hard NOT to do what you resolved. Create a progress chart, recruit a cheer squad among your family and friends, find someone to hold you accountable, hire a trainer, join a group, create a blog. Likewise, if there are people or things in your life that pull you down or off track, address them directly and set whatever boundaries you know you will need up front.

5. Narrow Your Efforts. 

 Trying to do too many things at once can make you so unfocused that you just bounce around like Tigger on Red Bull, not quite sure which direction you are going. Set yourself up for success and start with JUST ONE MAJOR UNDERTAKING come January 1st. Then break that goal down into small bite size steps. Small steps, strong start!

6. Focus On The Process. 

 It’s easy to get caught up in an initial wave of enthusiasm, only to come crashing down when your initial efforts don’t produce immediate and amazing results. So focus on the process itself, and develop greater competence of the actual activity, habit or skill you want to acquire. For instance, if you want to become more fit, focus on being able to jog a little bit further every time you go for a walk, rather than being able to run 5 miles within a week. PERSISTENCE ALWAYS PAYS OFF.

7. Forgive Your Failures. 

Your setbacks and failures will not define your success in the year ahead or any year. HOW YOU RESPOND WILL. If you happen to mess up, lose your resolve, press the snooze button or revert to a familiar well-practiced behavior, don’t beat up on yourself. Okay, so you didn’t get to the gym like you’d planned. How about 5 minutes of stretching? When it comes to slipping up and tripping up, you are in good company. It happens to everyone. Just don’t let your mishaps, setbacks and failures mean more than they do. Reflect on the lessons they hold, make adjustments accordingly, then tap your inner John Wayne and get back in the saddle. Life rewards those who work at it. ( Forbes )

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Know you're in a healthy relationship

Know you're in a healthy relationship - Everyone talks about being a good, healthy relationship. But what exactly does 'healthy' signify. Put simply, you are in a healthy relationship when you feel good about yourself when around your loved one and there is an equal amount of give and take between both the partners. Most important is the trust factor, you should feel safe around the other person and trust him/her with your secrets. Remember, healthy relationships evolve as each person evolves in his or her ability to be loving to both, themselves and each other.

Here are some important factors for a healthy relationship:


Is kindness more important to each of you than having your way, being in control, or being right? Do you each receive joy out of being kind to each other? Being kind rather than controlling with each other is essential for a healthy relationship.

Spontaneous warmth and affection

This is an important factor. Affection and warmth toward each other help a couple to appreciate the essence of each other, rather than just pinpoint the faults. Consequently, it also helps strengthen the relationship as they are able to enjoy each other, both as individuals, and as a couple.

Laughter and fun

It's vital to the well being of your relationship that both of you laugh and play together. Learn to appreciate and enjoy each other's sense of humour, especially in the midst of difficulties. Both of you need to let down and be playful with each other, letting yourselves be like kids together, as laughter and fun play a huge role in a healthy relationship.

Enjoying time together and time apart

You may both be each other's favourite person to spend time with. However, it is also essential that you grow as individuals and spend quality time with yourself, indulging in your hobbies and passions.

Individual friends and interests

Some couples spend a lot of time together because they really enjoy it, while others spend a lot of time together out of fear of being alone. It is important for a healthy relationship for each person to have friends and interests, so that they are not dependent on each other. Dependency is not healthy in a relationship, especially emotionally.

Resolving conflicts

All relationships experience conflicts in some form or the other. It is not the conflict that is the issue, but how you deal with it. As a couple, you need to have a method for resolving conflict or else you will end up just sweeping aside. Also, if fighting is a part of how you deal with conflict, learn to fight fair, do not be hurtful or insulting.

Letting go of anger

If one or both of you get angry, do you hang on to it, punishing your partner with it, or can you easily let it go? In healthy relationships, both partners are able to quickly move on, back into kindness and affection.

Trust in your love

You need to trust each other that the love is solid, even in very difficult times. You need to know that you can mess up, fail, disappoint the other, emotionally hurt the other and that your love will still be there. This level of trust is essential for a healthy relationship.

Listening, understanding, accepting and learning

Even though you are a couple, each of you need to feel heard, understood and accepted. Share your secrets with your partner without the fear of being judged. Be interested in learning about yourselves and each other than in controlling each other. Listen to each other with an open heart and make the effort to understand your partner before judging each other or defending your actions.


Your sexual relationship needs to be warm and caring. Be sexually spontaneous and more importantly, talk with each other about what brings pleasure to each of you.

Freedom to be yourself

Just because you are a couple, it doesn't mean you have to be a mirror image of each other. Remember, you are individuals with your own personal choices and tastes. To be in a healthy relationship, you need to have the freedom to be yourself without the fear of being criticised. Learn to support each other in pursuing what brings you'll joy. After all, happy individuals make happy couples. ( )

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You, me and... no baby!

You, me and... no baby! - Their passion for trekking brought them together. For Kamalika and Tapash of Kolkata, love blossomed during high-adrenalin training sessions of a mountaineering club. And despite being nine years apart, they knew they were meant to be together and take on some death defying adventures.

Married for almost two years now, the couple has taken the first step to realising their dream by floating an adventure sports company that takes groups on camping and trekking excursions. With more ambitious projects in the pipeline, they can't even consider having a child. Asks Kamalika, "Our lives are uncertain, what if we didn't return from an expedition? What would happen to our baby then?" She accompanies her husband on all his trips. "We want to explore a lot of places, and there is no question of bringing up a child for the heck of it," she reasons.

Hers is not a remote instance and a whole new tribe of fiercely independent couples today is choosing to not make babies and focus instead on their creative pursuits.

When Subroto Ghosh (name changed), 40, a journalist living in Pune gave marriage a shot last year, he had one thing very clear in his mind — no babies! And fortunately for him, his wife too came from the same school of thought. He is candid, "The thought of having an 18-year-old at the age of 58 is disturbing. A child should ideally be an independent adult before you retire." He adds, "My wife and I have erratic work schedules. I don't think we would have done justice by bringing another life to the world." To give a dimension to their marriage, the couple has adopted a cocker spaniel 'Belch', that by Subroto's own admission seeks as much attention as a child.

Until some years ago, couples who couldn't have kids were looked down upon, let alone those who chose to not have one. The perception has somewhat changed as more and more couples are opting to never become parents. Says Dr Rajendra Barve, psychologist at IIT Hospital, Mumbai, "These are couples who have found a purpose in life as against those who feel companionship is only about holidaying and partying. The latter usually end up having extra-marital affairs and eventually lose interest in their partner. Baby or no baby, it's about how creatively a couple is intimate with each other."

But for Abhay, 26, a marketing personnel based out of Bhopal, having children is an investment he is not willing to make. A year into marriage, both Abhay and his wife Rhea, have decided to steer clear of parenting. "Being responsible for someone throughout their life makes me jittery. Once you have a kid, you are grounded; either you or your spouse has to sacrifice a career to raise the child. Else, it would be unfair on the kid," shares Abhay. Like Subroto, the couple has adopted a labrador pup 'Foster' that keeps the household alive. 'When Rhea and I go out, Foster gets all sad and distant. It is a terrible feeling to leave him

behind, and we wonder how painful it would be were it our own kid," says he.

Perhaps a pet is easier to deal with and yet gives a high similar to raising a child. Vikram Karve, 54, who wrote a heart-warming short story on a Double Income No Kid (DINK) couple, is married for the last three decades and has grown up children. "We have an empty nest, which our pet beautifully fills up. But this is not to say that you should keep a pet instead of a baby. Those who get married should have kids as it is the kid that brings good vibes into the relationship," he avers.

According to Delhi-based sociologist Reeta Brara, couples not going for kids is a mere trend and not true across the board. Says she, "Blame it on today's self-indulgent lifestyles, where couples are not willing to share their resources even with kids. Young working women often think their career will take a backseat if they planned babies." But Reeta feels some unwed career-driven mothers such as Sushmita Sen are doing a great job of parenting, despite the odds.

Painter-curator, Alka Raghuvanshi, 48, who has married and divorced twice with no kids, is clear. "You can't divorce a child. From diapers to dentures it is a never-ending proposition. Women who say they can balance everything from career to kids, are lying to their teeth," she quips. Alka had lost a baby in her womb just a day before its birth from her first marriage. But she has no regrets, "After the incident I lost interest in having a baby and conveyed as much to my husband. I believe God willed me to not have kids. With a child around I couldn't have travelled the way I did, and painted with the same passion."

With mounting pressures of daily life, couples not willing to make an emotional and financial investment into parenting are on the rise. But how natural or unnatural is it for a couple to not have kids? "It's not a socio-culturally natural way of living," says Dr Bhavna Barmi, senior clinical psychologist and marital therapist at Escorts Heart Institute, "as physiologically, the body has a child-bearing capacity which should be optimised." ( )

Whatever the decision, it's the 'little' joys that make up life!

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Personalized Stem Cells One Step Closer to Reality

Personalized Stem Cells One Step Closer to Reality - For the first time, scientists have proven that embryonic-like stem cells that are specific to both a person and to a disease can be manufactured using adult human cells.

Personalized stem cells may be the holy grail of science because of their potential to treat and allow the study of a myriad of diseases and conditions. And while there are still a number of hurdles to clear before this advance can be applied to humans, in the clinical setting this latest step, some say, shows promise of eventual human therapies.

Researchers from Harvard and Columbia Universities used skin cells from two patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, to create stem cells and then reprogrammed them to morph into replacement motor neurons.

"It opens doors to making patient-specific stem cell lines," said Dr. Kevin Eggan, principle faculty member at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and lead author of a study that was released today in the journal Science. "You can use these cells to make the actual cell type for that person's disease."

People with ALS experience progressive degeneration in their motor neurons to the extent that the brain and spinal cord can no longer signal the body to move. Patients in later stages of the disease often become paralyzed.

Eggan and his colleague, Dr. Christopher Henderson, co-director of the Center for Motor Neuron Biology and Disease at Columbia University and the other lead author, stressed that their study shows "proof of principle" for how embryonic-like stem cells can be created from adult cells using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, a technique introduced widely last year.

Stem cell researchers not involved in the study called the advance promising.

"The hope for iPS cell technology is that you could create cells from your own body to treat your own defects," said Dr. Curt Freed, professor of medicine and pharmacology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "They are immunologically matched to yours."

But Freed pointed out that iPS derived stem cells will never be used for therapeutic purposes because the method requires using retroviral genes to copy the cells -- genes which result in cancer-producing cells.

A New Approach

The ideal scenario for stem cells would be to create them by injecting the desired DNA -- DNA that's free from genetic defects -- into human egg cells and letting them become stem cells before reprogramming them into specific cell types, a technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). But getting human egg donations -- as well as funding for such research -- has been difficult for the researchers.

"The inability to have success with SCNT is wrapped up in logistical and political quagmires," Eggan said.

At the moment, the next step for this study is to determine how similar and different the new motor neurons from the iPS derived stem cells are from human motor neurons.

"We have the opportunity to study these motor neurons and see whether they behave in a manner that they do in the culture dish," Henderson said. "Although the promise of these ideas are there, there is much validation to do in terms of their potential to generate different types of neurons.... The [SCNT] embryonic stem cell model is really our gold standard."

But the discovery that only a few genes are necessary to nudge a human stem cell to develop into a specialized adult cell is encouraging. The finding also underscores the theory that almost any cell of any age in the body can be reprogrammed into any other type of cell, given the right genetic expression.

"It gets us closer to when we are able to use chemicals alone," Eggan said.

Not Ready for Clinical Setting... Yet

Rather than be used for therapy right now, Eggan and Henderson said that the cells they created will be most useful to study the nature and pathology of the disease, particularly in terms of determining what drugs might be effective to treat it.

"Studies... suggest that things are going wrong in those individuals far, far, far before they're ever outwardly sick," Eggan said, referring to a potentially fundamental difference between diseased neurons and normal neurons. "And it's those molecular correlates of disease which will be our first inroads into better understanding of the disease and then, in turn, treatment." ( )

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