According to YPulse research, more than three in five young Europeans have already purchased a luxury product, underscoring how Gen Z and Millennials in this region are fuelling sales in the luxury market, and need to be a major focus for high-end brands. In fact, global luxury sales are expected to hit record levels this year with Gen Z’s growing interest in high-end brands. According to Bain, “global sales of personal luxury goods including leather accessories, apparel, footwear, jewelry and watches are expected to grow by 22% this year” as consumers revert back to pre-crisis behaviors. Despite a looming recession and inflation, young people are still shopping for luxury items, in fact, the average age range for the luxury industry’s consumer base has dropped: “half of all purchases [are] by people in their mid-20s to early 40s, while up-and-coming Gen Z, now in their teens to mid-20s, account for nearly 20% of luxury sales.”
Knowing which luxury brands they want the most is key for any brand wanting to best reach these gens, and build effective collabs in the industry. So, which luxury brands do European Gen Z and Millennials want in their hands? In our Luxury survey, we asked 13-39-year-olds, “What is the luxury brand you most want to own?” as an open-end question, and these are their answers:
The Luxury Brands They Most Want to Own
Among 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe
- Louis Vuitton
- Yves Saint Laurent (YSL)
- Michael Kors
Gucci and Louis Vuitton are the most desirable luxury brands among young Europeans, for the second year in a row
Gucci is the luxury brand young consumers in Western Europe most want to own, for the second year in a row. While it is clear that not all Gen Z and Millennials own a Gucci bag, or can afford to buy one, the Italian brand has developed ways to make these young consumers feel part of the Gucci world. The fashion powerhouse has been very busy last year setting up space in virtual worlds, embracing esports, and experimenting with crypto payments. And to kick-off 2023, Gucci strategically brought Jack Greylish—a famous British footballer—to Roblox’s Gucci Town. Gucci’s push toward the metaverse to reach the young generations is likely to be fruitful, and data from YPulse’s Luxury Report shows that 27% of European 13-39-year-olds have already purchased a luxury product in a virtual world such as Roblox, Fortnite, or Minecraft.
Following behind Gucci is another heavy-lifter in the high-fashion industry: Louis Vuitton. The flagship luxury brand owned by LVMH is again topping the ranking this year. The French group registered a record 14 billion euros in net profit last year, which helped its CEO and chairman Bernard Arnault to become the world’s wealthiest person—okay, Elon Musk’s world record losses also helped. When it comes to web3, LVMH’s strategy is to take “a slow approach to the metaverse” is contrasting significantly with Gucci’s super activity on virtual platforms, and on TikTok. But Louis Vuitton continues to remain a staple luxury brand, and can count on its reputation (and the growth of its mothership LVMH) to stay as one of the most desirable luxury brands among young Europeans.
Rolex makes it to the top three luxury brands young Europeans most want to own
Rolex was already among the top luxury brands YPulse found that young Europeans desired last year, but it now ranks third on the list. The Swiss company is one of the world’s oldest operating watchmaking brands, and carries a name that is quasi-synonymous with luxury. Rolex and the luxury watch industry are benefiting from the rise of second-hand luxury products—which we know young consumers like to buy—and a Deloitte study found that the market of vintage luxury watches is expected to grow by 75% in the next decade. Luxury watches are desirable items among young consumers in Western Europe, and this is especially true for European Millennials, with YPulse finding it’s the second top luxury item that they have purchased.
The sales of Rolex watches have been increasing steadily, and its brand value is expected to continue growing. The century-old brand is keeping up with innovation to best reach young consumers, and is likely to release NFTs in 2023, following the trail of other watchmakers like TAG Heuer or Breitling. In 2019, Rolex also rolled out a plan called “Perpetual Planet” to take more tangible steps toward sustainability and fund projects to help with nature conservation. Young Europeans, who care a lot about the environment, are looking for brands to take such initiatives and YPulse’s research shows that 85% of them expect brands to make an effort to be sustainable.
Young Europeans like their national flagships when it comes to luxury products.
A closer look at YPulse’s data from our Luxury Report reveals that young Europeans are influenced by their country of origin when it comes to the luxury brands they most want to own:
Western Europe is the home of many luxury companies, and it is not surprising to see that among the top 20 luxury brands young Europeans most want to own, only Nike, Apple, and Tesla are not European brands. In France, the luxury brand young consumers most want to own is Louis Vuitton, whose headquarters are based in Paris. In Germany, Porsche is the fourth most wanted luxury brand, whereas the German automaker only ranks 11th among all five Western European countries surveyed. The Italian fashion brand Gucci is the most desired brand among young Italian consumers, underscoring once again the importance of national brands in Western European culture.
All these brands undoubtedly have a global presence, and brands like Gucci are appealing to all young consumers across the world—thanks House of Gucci—not just in their home country. Like their North American counterparts, European Gen Z and Millennials are borderless generations, and are heavily influenced by the marketing of global brands in their purchasing decisions—see YPulse’s Local / Global Citizenship Report for more. That being said, brands should be aware that national preferences also come into play when young Europeans think about the luxury products they most want to own.