Consumers have mixed views on luxury

23 December 2009

HONG KONG: A majority of consumers in some of the biggest markets around the world like to buy luxury goods, but many feel "guilty" about doing so, a study by Synovate has found.

The research firm surveyed 8,100 people in 11 countries, including Brazil, France, Hong Kong, India, the Netherlands, Spain, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and US.

In all, 35% of its panel defined luxury as being "everything over and above what you need", while 18% said it "appeals to my senses".

A further 17% argued luxury corresponds to a specific "lifestyle", while 16% viewed it as taking the form of having "time to do exactly what you want."

However, while two-thirds of participants said they sometimes "treated themselves" to high-end goods, a third also felt "guilty" about doing so.

More specifically, 72% of shoppers in the UK occasionally bought premium products, while 50% experienced such a negative reaction afterwards, including 66% of women.

In the US, 58% of female contributors went through similar feelings after acquiring this type of offering, compared with just 35% of males.

By contrast, 74% of Indians, and 71% of Brazilian and Dutch respondents, did not have any regrets after splashing out on expensive items.

Looking to branding, 47% of adults said they would buy goods marked with a logo, measured against 34% who preferred products not carrying such an insignia, and 18% who had no real preference.

Almost 80% of Indians fell into the first of these categories, as did 68% of the sample living in Hong Kong, and 58% in the UAE.

Brazil was home to the most consumers who tended to opt against such "badging", on 51%, a figure that also reached 47% in France, and 46% in the UK.

Some 28% of Synovate's cohort said the main reason for choosing a luxury item was that it "makes me feel special to own it", climbing to 45% in the US, and 44% in the UK.

A further 27% of panellists gave prominence to "the way it is made or feels", a stance held by 35% of Britons, and 32% of their French and American counterparts.

Brand reputation was said to be most important by only 14% of those polled, headed by India, on 28%, and France and Hong Kong, both on 20%.

Some 37% of customers read about luxury brands on official websites, led by 54% in the UK and 53% in the US, but shop windows still took primacy in identifying potential purchases, on 66%.

A fifth of Indians "most enjoy the shopping experience", compared with an overall average of 10%, while 37% of Taiwanese and Brazilians always carried out research before buying, the highest country totals on this measure.

Data sourced from Synovate; additional content by Warc staff