Luxury brands retain appeal

29 June 2011

PARIS: Luxury brands have retained their appeal among young consumers around the world, despite the challenges of the economic downturn.

Research firm Ipsos Public Affairs surveyed middle and upper class respondents in 13 countries, including Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, the UK and US.

The sample in each nation was representative of the domestic population, and numbered between 800 and 2,000 people in size.

Overall, Ipsos Public Affairs reported interviewees who were under 35 years of age remained the most interested in exclusive goods.

In all, 33% of individuals aged below 35 years old from Europe, the US and Japan awarded these upmarket ranges seven points or more on a ten-point scale of desirability, measured against the 25% yielded by older shoppers.

However, two-thirds of the former demographic thought such products were currently "inaccessible", and half could only make very occasional category purchases.

A further 23% of these participants from developed markets stated luxury lines held an appeal, but are unaffordable.

Elsewhere, the study revealed "Gen Y" consumers displayed a greater likelihood than their senior counterparts to snap up high-end goods "for fun", a finding particularly applicable to younger men.

More specifically, 71% of under-35s in Europe, Japan and America made category purchases for "pleasure" or for the emotional experience, hitting 77% in China and 60% in India.

Globally, a 59% majority of the younger panel felt they "always" had to be attractive, and many expected luxury brands to assist in fulfilling this objective, peaking at 67% for 15-24 year olds.

Meanwhile, 91% of under-35 year olds in China agreed premium offerings helped them to be "more sure of themselves" in social settings.

Sunglasses, handbags, cosmetics and skin care were more readily associated with luxury among Generation Y shoppers than previous generations.

Across all the countries assessed, clothing is most frequently described as meeting such criteria, and also secures the strongest purchase levels.

Another shift identified by Ipsos Public Affairs was the increasingly important role of the internet, with nearly 50% of young American, European and Japanese buyers having acquired luxury products in this way.

Similarly, 12% had rented a luxury item in the past, and 38% were familiar with websites providing this kind of service.

Data sourced from Ipsos Public Affairs; additional content by Warc staff