Speaking at the ttgluxury Seminar, Fflur Roberts, global head of luxury goods research at the market intelligence strategist, said Europe and North America had seen a “slowdown” in the sales of high-end products in 2016 while luxury spending across Asia “remained strong” with 5% growth.
She said geopolitical challenges affecting luxury travel and customer spending, such as currency devaluation following the UK’s EU referendum result last summer and uncertainty over a Trump presidency in the US, had led to “slower than expected” luxury growth in 2017.
Roberts added that, as a result, consumers wanted “premium product at lower prices”. This “premiumisation” was cited as one of eight “megatrends” that Euromonitor has identified as a way to locate key changes in consumer behaviour.
She said the trend meant middle-class customers still wanted luxury but in different, more cost-effective ways, which they were incorporating more into their daily life instead of infrequent lavish purchases.
One example cited was of French luxury conglomerate LVMH, whose brands include Louis Vuitton and Moet, which is moving into the food and beverage sector with the acquisition of Italian coffee shop Caffe Cova.
“Whereas not all of us can afford one of its bags, consumers still want to buy into the brand,” she said. “Instead, they can grab a coffee or a meal and still feel part of the brand.”
Roberts also mentioned the rise in popularity of low-cost carrier Norwegian’s long-haul routes with mid-range customers choosing to pay less for their air fare and “use the savings to upgrade to a suite or tailor-made experience in-destination”.
Another major shift from “traditional luxury” was, according to Roberts, an emphasis on choosing hotels and destinations based on health and wellbeing offerings, adding that “health has become the new wealth”. She said this was evidenced by the rise of “boutique hotel gyms” in London hotels such as the Workshop Gymnasium at the Bulgari Hotel and Espa Life at The Corinthia.
This desire for more health and fitness product, said Roberts, fed into a wider push among consumers towards more experiential holiday choices.