Five global experts share what’s next for luxury

type - big idea
Big Idea
sector - luxury
After a tumultuous start to the decade, we explore how the luxury sector is evolving across customer engagement, products and conscious mindsets

Vanessa Wu, Europe business director, Gusto Luxe

Gusto Luxe operates out of China – what’s currently driving engagement among local luxurians?

When we break it down into touchpoints, social media, influencers and word of mouth are key. If a person hears about a new brand, they will be looking for news or product information on Weibo, WeChat and Little Red Book. They want to know what others are talking about, read reviews of beauty, fashion and lifestyle products – even the hottest restaurant to try out.

Live-streaming is really booming, which links these touchpoints together. Influencers are employed to talk about products, and within a live-stream the customer can ask questions and get a direct link to buy a product. Webinars, too, are becoming a way to showcase wider product collections or brand expertise.

How are attitudes to luxury tourism changing?

There’s a shift towards local travel in China because people can't travel abroad – they're not visiting Greek islands. Instead, they're heading to the city of Sanya in Hainan province, which is like the Hawaii of China. In turn, brands like Dior are doing pop-ups there or are partnering with local luxury hotels. We’ve even seen jewellery brand Van Cleef & Arpels do an exhibition in the desert area of Dunhuang, which is interesting for them. Looking ahead, I think the general trend of domestic luxury travel will continue.

Are conscious behaviours playing out through luxury in China?

Holistically, an eco-friendly, organic lifestyle is definitely accelerating in the Chinese market. People are still buying luxury goods but it’s now through the lens of conscious consumption and buying less but better quality. Sustainable local brands like Icicle are creating a lot of buzz. It recently collaborated with sneaker brand Veja, which is already one of the go-to sustainable sneaker brands globally, as well as in China. Among early adopters and younger customers, China pride is also growing, evolving from Made in China to Created in China.

Published by:

17 August 2021

Author: Kathryn Bishop

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Ning Dynasty is a luxury streetwear brand inspired by Chinese culture

Prashant Yadave, head of strategy, Keko London

How has Covid affected luxury consumer mindsets?

As a result of lockdowns, we’ve got a new generation of consumers emerging with more disposable income than before. So, generally speaking, we’re seeing more people able to spend on things of a higher value, whether it’s renovating the house or garden or buying a Peloton bike. For brands, this new audience could hold long-term potential.

At the same time, we have the HENRYs, – high earners, not yet rich – who for the past decade have risen through the ranks. What’s interesting is they're a generation not necessarily beholden to the traditional values of luxury. And now, increasingly, they’re looking to re-interpret luxury codes and modernise them in a way that makes them more relevant.

What's changing in terms of luxury brands' marketing?

Digital has accelerated massively, partly out of necessity and partly because, if you're a luxury or premium brand, you want every touchpoint or every interaction to be at the customer's level. Screen-based luxury experiences are not that alien any more, for example – think about Gucci’s personal shoppers. Then, events like Complexland are showing the potential of a multi-brand event – it’s a formula I'd propose to luxury or media clients moving forward.

Let's discuss luxury through the lens of exploration…

As technology develops and as brands evolve, there will be greater consideration for the inner journey that brands take people on. It might be more philosophical. Take Virgin Galactic, which starts to consider the big questions in life like why are we here? Maybe there's space for brands to help people answer or interpret such questions. Sure, they’re esoteric but consider the incredible experiences of exploration that could happen as a result.

Tiffany LaVon Layne, founder, LaVon Travel

inter-Covid, what are you tracking in luxury travel?

We’re seeing emotion again in travel and marketing, after an equally emotional 18 months – especially with the pandemic still affecting many parts of the world. There is also more weight on hospitality, and welcoming people back as family. Humanity is really going to underpin travel in the coming years. It's been great to see a few luxury brands make an effort to ensure diversity in their messaging, from both a race and an LGBTQ+ perspective. Again, this sparks emotion because people feel luxury travel is speaking to them; it's welcoming and somewhere they can feel comfortable.

‘Among early adopters and younger customers, China pride is also growing, evolving from Made in China to Created in China’

Want to learn more about what’s next for luxury?

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