In the last days of the lunar year, at 138B Giang Vo street (Ba Dinh, Hanoi), a store specializing in selling foreign liquor only had a few customers. Customers choose bottles of wine priced at a few million dong as gifts. The bottles of wine displayed in the glass cabinet with prices of hundreds of millions of dong are still waiting for customers to buy.
According to the sales staff here, foreign wines are priced in the hundreds of millions of dong range depending on the brand, number of years of production, etc. The whisky range includes a bottle of Auchroisk 1974 for more than 169 million dong; Royal Lochnagar 1981 for over 187 million dong; Singleton 42-year-old for over 180 million dong…
In recent years, Cuban cigars have become popular as Tet gifts, but this year this item is also mainly stuck in many shops. On Hang Be street (Hoan Kiem, Hanoi), a shop specializing in selling “imported” Cuban cigars, displays Cohiba cigars from Cuba priced at 20 million dong per cigar.
Mr. Minh Trung, a person specializing in trading cigars, said that he had never experienced a year as quiet as this year, despite having invested a lot in the store with a luxurious reception room for customers. Some customers are willing to spend over 200 million dong to buy a box of Behike 56 cigars (10 cigars), but according to experts, if available in Vietnam, they are mostly fake.
“Cuban cigars, especially the Behike 52, 54 or 56 brands, are super rare even in the European and American markets, let alone Vietnam. Many customers like to smoke the Siglo 6, so there are many fake ones in the market,” said an expert.
In an exchange with a reporter from Tien Phong newspaper, Ms. Nguyen Thanh Thuy, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Golden Sun (the exclusive distributor of a diamond brand in Vietnam), said that this year, all luxury items of the company were sold slower than last year. Among them, the decrease in sales of high-end jewelry, diamonds, and luxury watches reached 65%; fashion items decreased by 30%.
To own a natural 1-carat diamond (0.2 gram), buyers must spend from 300 million dong to 2 billion dong, depending on the color, purity, and number of facets. With a 2-carat diamond, the price can reach 10-20 billion dong.
Ms. Nguyen Thanh Thuy, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Golden Sun, said that in a difficult market, the company had to package affordable gift baskets. In previous years, the company only made gift baskets over 2 million dong, but this year the minimum price is 500,000 dong.
Regarding the consumer trends of customers, Ms. Thuy commented: “Luxury goods do not follow the normal market rules. The rich, who have the ability to spend, are willing to buy items they like anytime, when they have the conditions.
They are the ones who control the luxury game.” Thuy revealed that the majority of customers in the luxury segment are people in real estate and securities. These are two areas that are significantly affected, even “frozen,” making the luxury market even more bleak at present.
Thuy explained: “In a difficult economy, customers cut spending, especially luxury spending. Large companies also do not organize events to introduce new collections because there are no customers to attend. The way of spending on luxury goods has also changed.
In the past year, luxury buyers have become more practical, not ostentatious, mainly buying for themselves, their families, and close friends. There is not much demand for giving gifts or diplomatic gifts.”
Million-dollar food consumption decreases
In the high-end food segment, Iberico salted ham from Spain is receiving great attention from the market. A small portion of meat (about 1kg) is priced at 1 million dong, a whole leg of ham (5-7kg) ranges from 7-9 million dong.
At an imported food store on Le Dai Hanh street (Hanoi), Iberico salted ham is available at various price ranges. In addition to retail sales, this store also prepares gift boxes including salted ham, imported cold cuts, and wine as Tet gifts. 90g of salted ham is priced at over 500,000 dong/box, and gift boxes range from 2.5 – 4 million dong.
According to the store’s introduction, the high price of salted ham is due to the selection of the number 1 quality Iberico pig breed in the world, which is free-range on native oak forests and the main food source is acorns.
Goose liver, wagyu beef, king crabs, lobsters… have also become Tet gifts. The prices of these luxury gift boxes can reach tens of millions of dong. A high-end food store in Lo Duc (Hanoi) introduces a gift box priced at over 32 million dong, including 2 bottles of wine, 500g of wagyu beef, and 1kg of French goose liver.
The store said that it is operating at full capacity to prepare gift boxes, and customers often order in large quantities. However, this person believes that compared to last year, the number of customers has decreased significantly.