These are among the findings from the 18th edition of the Bain & Company Luxury Study, released in collaboration with Fondazione Altagamma, the Italian luxury goods manufacturers’ industry foundation.
“The global luxury market confirmed this year the moderate growth rate associated with the “new normal” era, mainly driven by Asian buyers,” said Claudia D’Arpizio, a Bain & Company partner and lead author of the study.
“The luxury customer is present and increasingly active, dramatically rewriting the rulebook of the industry. Brands will need to pivot to a new model to respond to customers’ needs when it comes to buying, consuming and communicating,” he stated.
ASIA DELIVERS THE MAJORITY OF MARKET GROWTH
According to the Bain report, Mainland China has been a growth driver for the luxury industry in the recent past and 2019 was no exception, with the market growing by 26 percent to reach $33.3 billion. Chinese customers accounted for 90 percent of the constant growth of the market in 2019, reaching 35 percent of the value of luxury goods. Government policies and lower price differentials continued to fuel local consumption.
Luxury consumption in Hong Kong has been adversely impacted by ongoing protests. The market fell by 20 percent in 2019 to $6.7 billion. The Hong Kong luxury landscape will reach a new equilibrium, with rules of the game deeply transformed and local customers becoming the main focus.
Meanwhile, Chinese buyers of luxury have turned their sights to other Asian destinations, boosting the performance of these markets. Japan grew by 4 percent at constant exchange rates to $31.6 billion while the rest of Asia grew by 6 percent at constant exchange rates, reaching $46.6 billion.
In the Americas, US consumption was boosted by domestic confidence but tempered by reduced tourist flows. Growth has been sluggish across the region but with an overall market size of $93.2 billion, it remains a core region for personal luxury goods.
Europe experienced slow growth of 1 percent at constant exchange rates with the market reaching $97.7 billion in size. Spain and the United Kingdom were among the top performers, driven by tourism and weak currency, respectively. Germany was impacted by a slowing country dynamism and France by social unrest earlier in the year.
Other geographies, which account for $13.3 billion, experienced a 5 percent decrease at constant exchange rates. The Middle East, aside from a hesitant recovery in Dubai, was a subdued market affected by lower consumer confidence and geopolitical uncertainties.
Mainland China has been a growth driver for the luxury industry, with the market growing by 26 percent to reach $33.3 billion in 2019.
TOMORROW’S BUYERS KNOW WHAT THEY WANT
Millennial customers have been steady buyers of luxury. They account for 35 percent of consumption in 2019 and by 2025 could make up for 45 percent of the market.
But it’s the even-younger Generation Z that is poised to reshape the industry, Bain states. By 2035 they could make up 40 percent of luxury buyers and they display behaviors that distinguish them from other generations.
“Gen Z customers are the new frontiers of tomorrow’s luxury market – and they already represent a growing portion of luxury consumption in Asian markets,” said Federica Levato, a Bain partner and co-author of the study. “They see themselves as critical actors of the creativity and conversations with luxury brands; they are returning to products, stores and physical interactions with brands to truly connect and engage emotionally with them.”
Social responsibility remains top of mind for luxury customers and encompasses more than just environmental impact. Some 80 percent of luxury customers say they prefer brands that are socially responsible, particularly among millennials. Further, 60 percent of luxury customers think luxury brands should be more engaged than other industries.
Bain anticipates that the luxury customer base will expand to 450 million by 2025, up from 390 million in 2019, mainly thanks to the growing middle-class, especially from Asia. This will further stimulate the entry-price segments, which in 2019 already represent a sizable part of the market – 35 percent within leather goods category and 30 percent in the jewelry.