NEW GEN Z 101: Unlock & Outlast Microtrends
Feb 02 2022
What are the top luxury brands Gen Z and Millennials want to own? We asked…
While expensive prices are still a barrier to entry, there are clear signs that Gen Z and Millennial shoppers have interest in luxury brands. Last spring, we told you that the hashtag #CheapestThing, which currently has four million views, was trending on TikTok as users showed off the cheapest item they could buy from luxury brands like Chanel, Gucci, Prada, and Hermès. Everything from lip gloss to keychains were featured in users’ videos—and because luxury brands still use fancy and luxury packaging for all their things, it made for “a postable social media moment.” The hashtag shows that these generations are looking for accessible entry points into luxury brands, and YPulse’s recent luxury research found that the majority of 13-39-year-olds say luxury brands should make some affordable items so more people could own them. While they might not be able to afford the highest price items on the menu, so to speak, they still have interest in owning a piece of the brands.
So which luxury brands specifically do they want in their hands? Our behavioral report digs into how young shoppers feel about and are shopping for luxury brands, and we asked 13-39-year-olds “What is the luxury brand you most want to own?” These are the top brands they named:
What is the luxury brand they most want to own?
Gucci is the top luxury brand Gen Z and Millennials say they want to own—and the brand has certainly found ways to generate interest among young shoppers in the last two years. We mentioned how luxury brands have been joining TikTok in recent years to connect with Gen Z—and Gucci is perhaps “the most popular luxury brand for Gen Z” on the app with 1.6 million followers. Hashtag challenges including the #GucciModelChallenge and #GucciAbsoluteBeginners have built their presence on the platform. They’ve also leaned into gaming and the metaverse with the Campaign Sneaker Garage and Gucci Garden. And of course, there’s House of Gucci (starring Adam Driver and Gen Z and Millennial-favorite popstar Lady Gaga), which further pushed the brand’s popularity in the resale market. According to ShopStyle, searches for Gucci were up 31% on the digital shopping platform, with the double-G belt style leading searches at 71% while bags and loafers were up 60% and 50%, respectively. Lyst notes searches for Gucci jumped 68% within 48 hours of the film’s release, although that doesn’t beat the 173% increase Lyst experienced after the trailer dropped in August. Searches for “vintage Gucci” increased a whopping 270% according to Wethrift.
Fashion brands Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Dior made Gen Z and Millennials’ top 10 rankings—and similar to Gucci, all the brands have built their presence on TikTok or have joined the gaming world or metaverse in some way to help reach these generations. But one of the more surprising brands to make the list of top luxury brands they want to own is Nike. Of course, the brand continues to win young consumers’ affinity from being rated the top coolest brand to being a top brand among BIPOC consumers. When we looked at the reasons young respondents chose Nike as the luxury brand they want to own, many of them say it’s because of “good quality.” Meanwhile, lingerie brands Victoria’s Secret and Pink made the list as well, with respondents telling us they named those brands because of their “high quality.” While brands like Nike, Victoria’s Secret, and Pink aren’t traditionally what most would consider a luxury brand, some young consumers seem to consider them as one. Respondents described the brands as having “good” or “high quality” and it could be that these brands feel luxurious to young shoppers because of this. After all, 67% of 13-39-year-olds tell us that they believe luxury is a feeling, not a thing. Gen Z was even more likely than Millennials to name Nike as a luxury brand they want to own, showing that the younger generation may be altering the definition of the luxury category even more than their predecessors.
While luxury fashion and apparel brands were at the top of the ranking, car brands like BMW, Tesla, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Lamborghini were also named by respondents. Tesla’s popularity with young consumers likely correlates with the popularity of its CEO Elon Musk, who Gen Z and Millennials believe define their generation, and is consistently trending in the news and on social media. In fact, one 31-year-old male respondent told us the reason they chose Tesla as the luxury brand they want to own is because “[They] love Elon Musk.” We’ve established that car ownership has become more important to Gen Z and Millennials in the last few years, and in that time high end car brands have also been finding ways to attract young people’s attention (particularly young gamers): we told you that Lexus designed a car made for gamers with the help of Twitch users, and they also became the official luxury partner for esports brand 100 Thieves.. Meanwhile, Lamborghini teamed up with Gameloft and esports company ESL Italy for an esports tournament, which allowed players to drive a virtual version of the luxury car brand’s Essenza SVC12 sports to complete challenges and win brand-specific prizes.
Luxury brands will (and need to) continue to find ways to make themselves accessible to young consumers, who clearly have an interest in the brands, even if they can’t afford them. But it should also be remembered that these generations are continuing to redefine luxury and aren’t concerned with previous definitions of the category.
YPulse Business users can access the full Luxury behavioral report and data here.
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