In the face of economic turmoil, the luxury industry has proven its resilience and socio-economic cachet, boasting double-digit growth and record-breaking valuations. But the sector cannot rest on its laurels. New generations of consumers are entering the market faster and blowing in winds of change.
Young affluents crave more than a transactional relationship; they want to play an active part in the brand universe – and that’s before they become tomorrow’s luxury clientele. As generations raised in the streetwear era, younger Millennials, together with Generations Z and Alpha, are true connoisseurs and avid archivists. They have a vision of luxury that is based on trading in knowledge, access, community and craft.
Why should luxury care? Watchful young audiences are obsessed with heritage and savoir-faire, shifting the codes of luxury and choosing subtle status signifiers over more obvious, overt displays of wealth. This evolution of Uneasy Affluence is pushing the sector towards a deeper focus on the true value of luxury: quality, craftsmanship, longevity and provenance.
UK – Held at 180 The Strand, London, in September 2023, the fourth Modern Affluence Summit concentrated on the upcoming great wealth transfer. This phenomenon of multigenerational wealth transfer will be significant in the US, where a total of £67.5 trillion ($84.4 trillion, €78.7 trillion) will be transferred to Gen Z and Millennial heirs by 2045 (source: Cerulli).
Partnering with VGC Partners, Verb Brands and The Future Laboratory, the Modern Affluence Exchange and Adoreum hosted 27 speakers, including Michelin starred chef Adam Handling and representatives from luxury brands such as Bentley, Tag Heuer and Maybourne. The event also introduced The Future Laboratory’s exclusive white paper, The Great Wealth Transfer.
The panels defined the next-gen high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) as creative, conscientious and culturally motivated consumers who prioritise people, planet and purpose as much as profit. Panellists insisted on the importance of including Gen Z in the C-Suite and listening to those inheriting the money, as much as those passing it down. ‘If you want to communicate with Gen Z, it’s your job to understand the language,’ said The Future Laboratory co-founder Martin Raymond on stage.
As explored in our Luxury Recrafted macrotrend, brands and businesses must put ESG and ethics front and centre in their luxury offerings to appeal to next-gen HNWIs.
US – American luxury jewellery giant Tiffany & Co, known for its legacy in tennis, has collaborated with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and one of Gen Z’s favourite social media apps, Snap, to create an immersive fan experience at the 2023 US Open. The partnership marks Tiffany & Co’s first venture with Snap’s AR Enterprise Services (ARES), which integrates augmented reality into businesses’ websites, apps and physical locations.
At the US Open, Tiffany & Co’s fan booth will offer an AR mirror experience with a diamond-inspired tennis racquet and iconic trophy, along with the option to participate in a virtual volley. The AR experience will be available to fans attending the US Open from 22 August to 10 September. This collaboration between Tiffany & Co and the USTA dates back to 1987 when Tiffany & Co began crafting the US Open Singles and Doubles Trophies, but the integration of Snap’s new ARES elevates this partnership, allowing consumers to experience the brand through multiple touchpoints, as discussed in Snap’s Retail Play.
The partnership also comes at a time when racquet sports are peaking in popularity and are being repositioned for new generations, a topic we explore further in Racquet Culture Redefined.
As luxury consumers seek deeper knowledge of design archives and historic craftsmanship, the role of physical retail is now one of personifying brands’ past and present DNA.
Expanding on LS:N Global’s macrotrend, Luxury Recrafted, we profile five luxury brands successfully future-proofing their heritage.
While craftsmanship, creativity and customised design are all hallmarks of what French luxury brand Hermès stands for, its new seven-storey flagship store on New York’s Madison Avenue also pays homage to its long-standing presence in the city with an array of interior design touches and artworks that have an Art Deco theme.
The 45,000-square-feet store features men’s and women’s stores, which were once townhouses wrapped around a building that was originally the Bank of New York in the 1920s; a central staircase connects the spaces and reflects the Federalist style that was popular at the time.
France – Beauty brand Lancôme and the Musée du Louvre have joined forces for a first-of-its-kind creative collaboration, working in tandem to develop an art-inspired skincare and make-up collection.
The Lancôme x Louvre Beauty is a Living Art line includes an eyeshadow palette, four shades of lipstick and a face serum. The collection takes inspiration from nine sculptures of powerful women or goddesses that are shown at the Louvre. Celebrities Zendaya, Aya Nakamura, Amanda Seyfried and He Cong feature in the launch campaign photographed alongside the statues – a nod to how the collection is bridging antique and contemporary representations of beauty.
‘We want to continue to draw on our artistic heritage to open new beauty horizons for women today and celebrate the fact that beauty is in perpetual motion,’ adds Françoise Lehmann, Lancôme’s global brand president.
Global – A study of more than 2,000 Norwegian adults reveals that anger is a powerful predictor of participation in climate protests, and is seven times stronger than hope. Researchers found that for every two steps a person took along the anger scale, they moved up one step on the activism scale. The impact of other actions was smaller, but fear and guilt were found to be the best predictors of policy support, while sadness, fear and hope were found to be the best predictors of behavioural change.
The study also found that intention to act does not always align with actual behaviour. While doom-laden news headlines can contribute to climate anxiety, the gloom often reflects a lack of faith in societal institutions and leaders. While such messages can induce anger – thereby facilitating action – it can also make individuals shut down if they feel powerless.
Interestingly, the study also found inconclusive evidence that increasing hope leads to greater climate engagement, suggesting that hope may arise from taking action rather than the other way around. This is interesting to note when thinking about how the younger generation are driving purposeful social media storytelling, as revealed in Why Generation Z are Creating Activist-tainment.
The luxury sector is evolving – fast. This week at The Future Laboratory and LS:N Global is Luxury Week, with the launch of three new reports and strategy frameworks ensuring our clients can successfully navigate this change and stay at the forefront of luxury innovation.
As Millennial and Gen Z affluents prepare to inherit an unprecedented £42 trillion ($53 trillion, €49 trillion) of wealth by 2045, their politics, attitudes and increasingly activist mindsets will affect their views on how to spend their wealth.
In the face of this, the luxury consumers – or rather the collectors – of tomorrow will expect luxury to signal status not through excess, but by acting as a guardian of craftsmanship and provenance, an ESG champion and a cultural compass.
The New Codes of Luxury 2025 is the latest foresight research into the changing luxury landscape – applying The Future Laboratory’s proprietary Luxury States framework to address evolving perceptions of luxury and unpack the key shifts that set the scene for what’s new and next. From today, you can book our team of strategists to deliver a high-impact presentation and workshop for you and your team. If you are interested, please get in touch here.
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