Luxury - just like the internet - is a truly global phenomenon. Its sellers are global. Its buyers are global. Even the aspirants are truly global. Luxury goods are often bought by buyers outside their home countries because shopping is such an inalienable part of travel. For authenticity and originality, consumers flock to the brands country of origin. So when the lockdown brought criss-crossing the globe to a complete halt, the luxury industry got a big jolt.
Companies have had to realign strategies to be in tune with the times. For potential buyers who can't travel, luxury is coming home, taking experiential luxury to a new level. As an anti-counterfeiting measure in trans-Continental sales, brands are already deploying blockchain, for instance.
But even more than Coronavirus, the biggest and the most emphatic challenge in the luxury market is how to cater to the needs of Millennials and the Gen-Z when brands and their offerings were originally designed for the baby-boomers. GenNext consumers are looking for brands that are not just digitally savvy but are also aligned with their values; those that care for sustainable existence; or ones that are in sync with their social or political leanings. By 2025, the balance of the world's luxury consumers is set to switch from baby-boomers to Millennials and Gen-Z.
Some brands are readying themselves with new phenomenon such as brand collaborations - where luxury brands tie up with youthful, street savvy brands to launch products jointly. Louis Vuitton has, for instance, collaborated with Supreme and Fendi with Fila. Surveys among consumers indicate that up to two-thirds of luxury buyers - particularly in China - have bought a collaborated brand.
Luxury brands also realise that the buyer's bias towards sustainable products is far from a fad as some of the greatest firms bow to the new breed of consumers.
Jaguar Land Rover's 2020 series of cars has leather free and vegan materials made from recycled plastic and eucalyptus. Hilton has created the first vegan suite with bamboo floor, plant-based keycards and eco-friendly stationery; even the Mercedes Vision EQS concept uses cloth made from recycled bottles and roof lining made from ocean waste.
Those are just some of the findings of Business Today's 2020 Luxury Special led by Ajita Shashidhar as she examines how brands are re-inventing themselves to live with the times.
That explains our range of stories this year. Luxury electric SUVs; honeymoon travel; secret malts; limited edition gadgets; luxury watches and Uber luxury homes.
Starting page 44, read how four Royal scions are charting a path for themselves and their heirlooms.
But don't miss our interview with the Trinidadian master tailor of Indian origin Andrew Ramroop who's dressed the who's who - from Lady Diana to Lakshmi Mittal - and owns Maurice Sedwell, the clothing company based in the Mecca of clothing, London's Savile Row. On page 98, Ramroop argues that casual can't be the attire for businesses and that Indians must dress grounded to the nation's culture and tradition. "One can look most amazing in a sari. In India you are getting a little too westernised. I think you should express your tradition, your values and your history," advises Ramroop.
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