Coach Makes Pitch to Men

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Luxury brands have had to scramble to adjust to changing times. As we’ve reported, brands such as Louis Vuitton have gone in uniquely different directions to regain market share and stay relevant to consumers.

Count Coach among the luxury brands moving into new territory. With its sales of its signature handbags sagging, Coach is turning to not just new products, but a new audience for growth: men.

Of course, it’s not the first time big brands have targeted men.[more]

It happens all the time in the personal care market, as Dove proved with its 2010 Super Bowl kick-off for its Men+Care line. Luxury brands, though, have all but overlooked the male market.

“Men have long been treated as an afterthought by luxury designers and retailers,” says Forbes, but now Coach and other luxury brands are recognizing the potential of the male market. In the U.S. and UK, men’s designer clothing has been selling at twice the rate of women’s in the last five years, and men’s products in China and India are growing by as much as 35%, according to Forbes.

That’s why Coach is emphasizing accessories such as belts and wallets in an effort to get a greater share of the $1 billion imported leathers market. Coach hopes to grow its 3% share of the men’s market to 14 percent in the next several years, and it will be opening stores exclusively for men in order to do so.

One of the interesting challenges, however, is that Coach accessories may not be enough. In fact, the most promising growth areas in the men’s market appear to be in footwear, eyewear, and watches. Coach hopes to solve that problem by licensing its name for use on such products.

Its focus on men also positions Coach for global growth. Coach is not only pitching its Poppy line overseas, including Japan, but it has spruced up its U.S. stores this summer to better feature the younger-skewing Poppy line.

New Yorkers have also been treated to free cookies and ice cream outside Coach retail locations, with limited edition Van Leeuwen ice cream flavors including Glam Cherry to woo heat-struck shoppers to check out the brand and, naturally, bag more sales.

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