Young consumers may be redefining luxury, but they still want high-end items. Here are the brands they want to own the most…
- Luxury brands that have made in-roads into Gen Z and Millennials’ favorite virtual spaces—from video games to TikTok—are the brands they most want to own
- Non-luxury brands such as Nike and Apple also made their list, underscoring how for these gens, luxury is a feeling, not a thing
- As luxury car brands make their way into the metaverse, young Europeans’ interest in them is growing, too
While we’ve known for a while that young consumers’ attitudes and behaviors toward high-end goods have led to a redefinition of luxury, we also know that Gen Z and Millennials aren’t turning their backs on luxury—and that they’re already buying. We told you earlier this month that the majority of 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe have already purchased a luxury item, and that nearly a third say they’ll likely care more about owning high-quality, expensive products in the future, meaning the industry stands to grow as young consumers (and Millennials in particular) continue to dominate the market. We’ve already started seeing this in action, too. Though global luxury sales dropped 23% in 2020 for a loss of €64 billion ($79 billion)—the market’s largest-ever fall and the first decline since 2009—2021 saw a rebound as life (and employment) began to normalize for Gen Z and Millennials. Global sales of personal luxury goods in 2021 were 4% higher than in 2019, pre-pandemic, according to consultancy firm Bain & Company. And with major European luxury brands such as LVMH, Hermes, and Kering reporting sales surpassing 2019’s values, it’s clear that Gen Z and Millennials’ interest in luxury isn’t waning any time soon.
All that said, these young gens are still changing what luxury means, and how accessible it is. YPulse’s recent WE luxury report found that the majority of young consumers want luxury brands to make some affordable items so more people can own them, and a third are interested in shopping luxury secondhand. Now, the industry is reorienting itself to meet Gen Z and Millennials’ expectations with everything from buy now, pay later offerings to sustainable items to virtual fits for their metaverse avatars to dupes to the viral trend of buying a luxury brands’ #cheapestthing, all so they can own their favorite brands, at the right price.
So, what brands do they want to own most? In our recent WE luxury survey, we asked young Europeans, “What is the luxury brand you most want to own?” These are the top 18 brands they mentioned:
The Luxury Brands They Most Want to Own
Among 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe
- Louis Vuitton
- Mercedes Benz
- Tommy Hilfiger
- Michael Kors
- Dolce & Gabbana
Like their North American counterparts, Gucci takes the top spot among 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe, proving that this 100-year-old heritage brand has found a way to stay relevant even with today’s young consumers. In addition to getting into the wildly popular gaming space and metaverse, Gucci has also found a way to speak Gen Z’s language via TikTok. With 1.7 million followers, the brand has been dubbed the app’s “most popular luxury brand for Gen Z” by Vogue, an honor it’s won with engaging content, hashtag challenges (including the #GucciModelChallenge and #GucciAbsoluteBeginners), and partnerships with popular TikTokers, such as Francis Bourgeois, a 21-year-old TikTok creator in London who has built a following of over 2M followers for his viral trainspotting videos. Meanwhile, the hit movie House of Gucci starring Lady Gaga upped young consumers’ interest in the brand as well, as did Gucci’s surrounding campaigns. In the U.K., for example, Gucci hid vintage pieces across 50 different George at Asda shops, giving fans a fun scavenger hunt—and a way to score some primo luxury vintage at majorly discounted prices. By continuing to find ways to engage young consumers and infiltrate their worlds, Gucci is remaining their most-coveted luxury brand. In fact, Gucci is the top brand among both Gen Z and Millennials, as well as every Western European region, except France:
France favors young Europeans’ second-top overall luxury brand, Louis Vuitton, which—along with other high-up brands Chanel and Dior—have also made inroads with Gen Z and Millennials by establishing themselves on TikTok and making their way into virtual clothing. Prada, meanwhile, is attracting young consumers by entering the secondhand space and Tommy Hilfiger—which made European Gen Z’s list of coolest fashion brands—has stayed relevant by hosting virtual events and releasing celebrity lines, such as one with Gen Z favorite Zendaya.
While many of the top-mentioned brands they most want to own are some of the world’s leading luxury brands, it’s also notable that young Europeans’ list also contains brands that are not considered luxury, including Apple, Nike, Adidas, and Samsung. These brands have continued to win young consumers’ affinity for a while now, with Apple, Nike, and Adidas making young Europeans’ list of coolest brands, and Apple and Nike making the list of brands with the highest overall YPulse+ score. When asked why they chose these as the luxury brands they most want to own, those who said Nike listed the brands’ quality, reliability and comfort, and one 21-year-olds male in Italy said simply, “Because Nike goes with everything.” Indeed, streetwear is still big among young Europeans, but more than that, their love of Nike proves the point of the 65% of young Europeans who say luxury is a feeling, not a thing. This is proved even further by Apple’s presence on the list. While 71% of young Europeans tell YPulse that technology like smartphones are essential, not a luxury, the tech favorite still made the list. While many young Europeans also note Apple’s durability and quality, one 14-year-old female in Italy tells us she chose Apple “because it is a brand that stimulates my personal imagination and creativity,” indicating again that how a product makes young consumers feel is more important than its pricepoint or exclusivity.
Ferrari, Tesla, and Mercedes also made the list of luxury brands they most want to own, proving that young consumers are, in fact, interested in cars. The pandemic actually increased the importance of car ownership among young Europeans—our WE Auto report found that 50% of 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe agree, “COVID made me want to own a car.” But more than just wanting to own a car, young Europeans’ interest in luxury auto brands may have more to do with how these brands are reaching them. Elon Musk is a celebrity among Gen Z and Millennials and is often trending on social media. In the U.S., young consumers say Musk defines their generation. Meanwhile, other luxury car brands have infiltrated gaming with virtual driving experiences and branded equipment, such as Ferrari’s headset.
In all, it’s clear that young consumers have an interest in luxury, and that they’re coveting some of the world’s top heritage brands. But the industry will have to continue expanding its accessibility—and very definition—to keep young Europeans spending.
YPulse Western Europe Business users can access the full WE Luxuey behavioral report and data here.
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