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A new series from Luxury Society that takes an in-depth look at the big issues and topics affecting the luxury market, and how the industry has responded to them. Through a series of interviews, exclusive data, and market analysis, we hope to provide a comprehensive view of each topic explored, adding to the wider discussions with our own expertise and that of others in the industry.

Data & analysis

How Searches For Luxury’s Iconic Products Grew During The Pandemic

A Chanel handbag, a Hermès scarf, a Rolex watch. What do all these products have in common? They are iconic products that during times of crisis, luxury consumers have sought out. The past two years have seen an increase in Google search demand for icons such as these, according to exclusive data from DLG, and the trend looks set to continue in the coming year.

When most people think of Hermès, their first association is to think of one of its most famous bags, The Birkin. The tote is one of their most iconic products and one that is synonymous with the brand’s qualities of timelessness and craftsmanship. It is also so highly sought after, that the brand no longer has waiting lists for it. The demand is just too great. Which makes The Birkin, the ultimate iconic product.

Each brand has its own. Hermès in fact has multiple iconic products. As does Cartier, Chanel, Dior, or Louis Vuitton. It’s something that can take years to establish, but once done, can be the very thing that puts your brand on the map for years to come. Particularly during times of crisis.

The past two years have shown us that interest in iconic products is at an all-time high, with Google searches for “Cartier Love Bracelet” up by 27 percent (3,404,000 searches in 2021) or by 20 percent for “Louis Vuitton Neverfull” iconic bag (1,655,000 searches for this query in 2021).

We wanted to delve deeper into this consumer behaviour and look at the interest in iconic luxury products and how they developed and responded to the dramatic changes that we have seen and experienced over the past two years.

Looking at 13 leading luxury fashion, leather goods, watches, and jewellery brands, we collected and analysed the volume of Google searches (in English) for their respective icons over the past two years to see what data could tell us about consumer demand for luxury goods and what we can learn from it.

We chose these brands based on how established they were, their history of savoir-faire, and how well known they were globally. Their iconic products are emblematic pieces of their star collections, which is why we chose to look at them and extracted search volume for those on Google.

The first thing to note is search demand for iconic products grew in all markets. For example, search demand for the Fendi Peekaboo bag, which was launched in 2009, recorded a 50 percent growth increase in the number of search queries worldwide to 989,500 in 2021 and compared to the past two years. Prada leveraged its Galleria bag with an increase of 76 percent in 2021 compared to 2019, for a total of 220,830 queries related to the iconic bag which launched more recently in 2017.

Looking more closely at the data in the eight selected markets in our analysis, Dior recorded the highest evolution of search demand for its iconic products followed by Hermès, Tiffany’s, and Cartier.

In our data range (between January and October 2021 for the following analysis), Google search demand related to the Dior iconic bags, the Saddle bag, the Book Tote and the Lady Dior bag increased in all markets analysed. The most successful market for the Saddle bag was the USA with a 184 percent growth (1,154,940 queries related to the product). For the Book Tote, it was the United Arab Emirates with an increase of 319 percent on Google (89,140 queries) and the Lady Dior recorded the highest evolution of search demand in Japan (226 percent with 59,210).

Both Birkin and Kelly bags have been very successful in terms of the evolution of their search demand.

Search demand for the Birkin bag grew by 106 percent in France (143,370 queries between January and October 2021), while the fastest growth market for the Kelly bag was Italy with a 131 percent growth.

Don’t Stop Evolving

And those that continued to evolve their product offering, and establish new iconic products to complement their existing offering have benefited greatly, as seen with Dior. The French fashion house recently launched two new bags, the Dior Bobby and the Dior Caro, both of which have seen an increase in Google search demand, demonstrating that there is still room for the creation of new iconic products on top of a brand’s existing offering.

The number of search queries for ‘Dior Bobby’, ‘Dior Bobby bag’ on Google increased by 10 percent in the last six months, raising this total to around 8’800 queries in October 2021.

The same number for ‘Dior Caro’ and ‘Dior Caro bag’ rose to 5’800 with a 20 percent growth. Both bags have been available since 2020 and are part of the recent Dior Collections, the Caro bag for Dior's Cruise 2021 season, and the Bobby bag for the launch of the Fall 2020 collection. Meanwhile, its more established iconic products like ‘Lady Dior’ and ‘Lady Dior Bag’ were searched around 73’600 times on Google in October and recorded a 36 percent growth in the last six months.

But New Doesn’t Always Mean Better

Gucci struggled a little bit since it recorded an overall decrease in icon demand between 2019 and 2020 but, fortunately, went up this year thanks to its unique loafers. Searches on Google (in English) related to Gucci loafers went from 26’000 to 42’000 between January and October 2021. Those iconic shoes also recorded the best increase this year on Google in Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

In addition to that, Gucci may also seize the opportunity to follow this icon trend with the recent reintroduction of the Jackie bag for Fall Winter 2020, renamed and reimagined, originally released in the late '70s with the code G1244. The Italian brand recorded a 22 per cent growth for “Gucci jackie bag” compared to the last period, bringing the number of worldwide searches for this query only to 238,500 between January and October 2021.

Seasonality Still Matters, For Some

Whilst the fashion world has been moving towards more seasonless collections, for some brands, seasonality still matters, particularly when it comes to their icons like Burberry.

Unsurprisingly, interest (searches on Google) for Burberry's trench coats increased during autumn and winter and decreased after. The English brand grew at home by 56 percent compared to the same period in 2019 (421,580 queries between Jan. and Oct. 2021), followed by France with a volume of 142,120 queries in 2021 for an increase of 48 percent.

The same trend can be observed for Burberry’s scarves as well as for Hermès ones, recording both the highest demands between November and January, December showing the height of demand.

Demand For Hard Luxury Has Risen

Interestingly, jewellery brands and their iconic products have outperformed during the past two years in terms of hard luxury goods, with demand across the board for items like necklaces and bracelets, with the United Arab Emirates noted as one of the top three countries that recorded a higher performance for brands like IWC, Rolex and Cartier.

For Tiffany & Co., the United States is the best performer in terms of search volume increase on Google with the Tiffany Heart Tag Collection.

Around 9’820 queries for ‘Tiffany heart tag necklace’ were recorded between January and October 2019, however, in 2021 for the same period, 26’900 searches have been made on the search engine, which is a 138 percent growth.

Likewise with Cartier, the top three queries that were most searched on Google in English are for The Love Collection, both in Germany with a 121 per cent growth between January and October 2021 compared to 2019, and a 141 per cent in the United Arab Emirates for the searches ‘Cartier love bracelet.

But Watches Interest Has Fallen Slightly

Icons interest for Rolex and IWC is increasing but less than the average median among markets selected and brands part of our analysis. Search demand related to the Big Pilot Watch and the Portugieser from IWC has increased by 43 percent in the United Arab Emirates, their top market in terms of growth with a total of 23,780 queries related to both iconic watches during our date range.

As for Rolex, again, the United Arab Emirates recorded the best increase in searches for the Daytona compared to the last two years with 41 percent growth.

As for the Submariner watch, search demand increased in the UAE by 80 percent, reaching a total of 165,000 searches associated with this product between January and October 2021. However, the Swiss brand recorded a drop in interest for the Daytona as well as the Submariner in Germany, respectively by -10 percent and -17 percent.

Watches don’t seem to be the first product to be bought in terms of crisis, even if the value retention remained.

Search For Pre-Owned Is Growing Rapidly

Through our research, we also found that interest for a pre-owned condition, such as ‘Dior saddle bag second hand’ or ‘Cartier love bracelet used’, is growing rapidly. An iconic and therefore timeless piece seems to be a good investment for the future.

The fastest increase in terms of search demand for iconic pre-owned products is 60 percent in the UK over the past two years and 35 percent compared to last year. Ranking in second place, Germany closely followed the evolution with a 57 percent growth over the past two years.

The search demand for secondhand products had a higher increase the first year of the pandemic than this year compared to the previous period. The closing of the stores seemed to increase the purchase of goods between individuals.

Overall, all markets selected for this analysis have a positive increase for pre-owned icons within the brands involved.

Brands should never neglect their iconic pieces, although it is necessary to renew. It's all about finding the right balance. Moreover, developing a strong story-telling for these products is essential to develop an aura, a whole part of the brand, and thus develop its desirability.

In addition to that, some brands have already invested in the development of the pre-owned market by creating a website dedicated to used pieces and managed directly by the brand.

Gucci even mixed its archives with innovation by recently inaugurating Gucci Vault, an immersive digital concept store that is offering exclusive vintage pieces from the Italian brand and featuring some pieces from emerging designers.

From our findings, we believe that there are still huge opportunities for brands to launch, create and develop iconic products. While it is true that customers tend to favour what they know and trust, storytelling, digital activations, timeless design, and 360° synergies are key to an iconic product’s development.

Looking forward, how brands embrace and embed omnichannel and immersive experiences into the customer journey is essential to establishing the relationship with their consumers and how they perceive their products.

Being innovative in terms of digitalisation or sustainability are actual major elements and part of the quick wins, that along with celebrating a brand’s past with iconic products that allow brands to perpetuate their history and know-how, and increase its desirability are part and parcel of being a luxury brand today. This is true for new buyers and post-’90s demographic as well as for their parents and older generations who have grown up with the release of these products.

Creating an it-bag or must-have accessory is not so difficult, the ultimate objective is how to make it last.

Community Survey: Luxury Holds A Positive Outlook For Long-Term

More than 85 percent of respondents to our community survey answered that they felt optimistic about the long-term prospects of the luxury market, signalling hope from those within the industry that the rebound in growth seen in 2021 will continue to trend upwards.

With 2021 ending on an uncertain note, due to the ongoing challenges thrown up yet again by another variant of COVID-19, many of our respondents who took part in the survey at the end of December and early January helped portray a positive picture for the outlook of the luxury industry.

The most recent set of company earnings from luxury groups earlier this month, also showed that demand from consumers is on the rise. In an unscheduled trading update on January 18, Prada said its group sales in 2021 grew by 41 percent at constant exchange rates to €3.4 billion, 8 percent above the levels seen in 2019.

Likewise, Brunello Cucinelli reported a 31 percent sales increase in 2021. And Richemont said strong demand for its jewellery and watch brands helped its quarterly sales rise by nearly a third. Sales jumped by 32 percent, at constant exchange rates, to 5.6 billion euros in the third quarter ended December.

The results amplify the sentiment of our respondents, where more than 85 percent answered that they felt either optimistic or cautiously optimistic about the long-term prospects of the luxury market, with 49.5 percent answering they were optimistic about the long-term growth of luxury, and 36 percent of respondents who answered that they were cautiously optimistic.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 38 percent of those surveyed said that they felt positively about 2022, slightly above the average rating of 7.7, with an additional 17.1 percent and 10.8 percent answering higher on the scale.

Digital Ranked Top Growth Driver

When it comes to the growth drivers of the luxury market in the long-term, 74.5 percent of those who answered ranked digital innovation as the most important, followed by local customers as the second with 60 percent, sustainability came third with 52.7 percent, second-hand luxury fourth with 47.3 percent, travel and tourism came fifth with 32.7 percent and the positive macroeconomic environment in last place with 30.9 percent.

As one of our respondents succinctly wrote: “Luxury brands will always find a way to adapt to the ever-changing market fluctuations as long as they continue to listen to their customers’ needs. They have the means to use different, innovative tools to reach and inspire their fans, be it digital or in-store, communicational or interactive… as long as they are fast to adapt.”

It is important however to note that on the other side of the coin, as another respondent wrote, that “the rebound we have seen from 2021 has been very strong, which may make it difficult to add further growth to what we have seen posted so far in the financial results.”

Looking at geographies, many of the respondents believe China will remain the key driver for the luxury market, with 88 percent ranking the nation as the top country for growth, followed by the United States at 63 percent, United Arab Emirates at 58.3 percent, France at 24.1 percent, Italy at 18.5 percent, Russia at 18.5 percent and the United Kingdom 16.7 percent.

“The focus on the domestic consumer makes for healthy brands, with strong customer understanding and relationships,” wrote a respondent. “When tourism does return in the next 1-2 years, this will be the icing on the cake to push the recovery further.”

Creativity Key To Success

On a brand level, Louis Vuitton was ranked the highest out of 18 brands listed on the survey, followed by Chanel, Hermès, Gucci, Balenciaga, Cartier, Christian Dior, Bottega Veneta, Burberry and Rolex.

The majority of those surveyed said they believed that creativity was key to their success, with 71.2 percent citing it as the key reason behind the success of these leading brands. Agility to react was voted second most important to success with 67.6 percent, followed by ability to invest at 51.4 percent, understanding of customer data at 48.6 percent, company mindset at 45.9 percent and a focus on local customers at 23.4 percent.

The past year has seen consumers turn to leading luxury brands as listed in our survey, and their iconic products. Exclusive data from DLG conducted for The Deep Dive found that interest in iconic products is at an all-time high, with Google searches for  “Cartier Love Bracelet” up by 27 percent (3,404,000 searches in 2021) or by 20 percent for “Louis Vuitton Neverfull” iconic bag (1,655,000 searches for this query in 2021).

Of the challenges that some luxury brands face, 71.8 percent of respondents answered that being slow to react to market changes was one of the main challenges faced by brands in the industry, followed by being slow to embrace digital (64.5 percent), a lack of creativity (5.1.8 percent), company culture (47.3 percent), company mindset (44.5 percent), lack of investment (31.8 percent), and internal infrastructure (26.4 percent).

In spite of the uncertainty that 2022 may bring, our respondents believe that demand for luxury will remain constant, citing younger consumers, a rise in disposable income due to limited travel, and a thirst to connect and engage with brands in new and different ways.

Our survey helped us to discover how optimistic many of you, our readers, are about the future of luxury, where you believe growth will be driven from, and what lies ahead in the coming year.

The majority of respondents answered that brands that have responded to the crisis with creativity and agility have clearly benefited from the digital revolution that accelerated further during the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

And for those that have continued to invest in different areas where they believe growth will come from: be that on local customers, or internal infrastructure or for the more daring: the metaverse, the opportunities remain abundant.

CONCLUSION : Luxury’s Resurrection Has Been Phenomenal. But Uncertainties Remain.

Luxury’s bounce back to growth over the past two years has been a phenomenal journey from recovery to resurrection. But this year’s performance is dependent on multiple factors that remain uncertain like Russia’s war with Ukraine and the ongoing impact of COVID-related lockdowns in China, and the picture that emerges for the future of luxury is one where many solutions may be needed to meet the modern demands of the consumer.

It has been more than two years since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which brought the world to a standstill and reshaped our reality into one where remote-working, social distancing and mask-wearing became the new normal. And yet, in spite of these changes, the luxury market has managed to flourish against all odds, demonstrating a masterclass in how to attract and engage consumers at a time when selling luxury during times of crisis was thought to be a challenge.

In the financial results released early in the year from the luxury companies, the outlook for the industry looked positive. LVMH reported a 44 percent rise in full-year revenue of 64.2 billion euros compared to 2020, confirming that it had seen a return to strong growth following the severe disruption to the first half of 2020. Richemont said its third-quarter sales ended December rose by 32 percent to 5.66 billion euros helped by strong demand for its jewellery and watches, and companies like Kering, Prada, Capri Holdings, and Ralph Lauren are all painting a similar picture.

​​The latest results from the first quarter show the trend continuing. LVMH said it saw a "good start to the year despite the challenging environment marked by the situation in Ukraine and the ongoing effects of the health crisis," recording a 23 percent rise in organic growth compared to the same period a year earlier. Hermès posted a 27.1 percent in revenues to 2.76 billion euros, beating analyst expectations.

In short, luxury’s bounce back from recovery to resurrection has been phenomenal. But will the growth that we have currently seen from 2021 last?

The answer isn’t simple. As the FT pointed out, many economists were expected 2022 to be a period of strong economic rebound. But with the double-shock of COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, inflation rates in many countries have shot up to the highest levels seen in decades, pressure on supply chains has soared, and the result is many central banks are still adapting their monetary policies and fiscal stimulus packages to support global economic growth.

And while companies' results so far are positive, the reality is that the results for the first three months of the year do not fully reflect the impact of the challenges that we are seeing arise now and the longer-term impact they may have on growth.

Russia’s war with Ukraine has seen luxury companies like LVMH, Chanel, Prada, Hermès, and Richemont temporarily closed their stores and paused their operations in Russia. Luxury carmakers like Porsche have stopped production and are no longer shipping vehicles to Russia. And the European Union also announced a ban on exports to Russia of EU luxury goods, delivering a blow to its wealthy elite who have been spending on items like watches and jewellery in the midst of the turmoil.

Likewise, the hard line taken by China to control its biggest COVID-19 outbreak has cast further uncertainty over luxury companies’ ability to maintain the growth they experienced since the initial shock of the pandemic. In April, Kering said in a call with analysts that Chinese store closures in March and April slowed its main brand Gucci’s ability to draw in new and younger customers, affecting its lower price points. Its shares fell by 7 percent on the day.

Analysts at Nomura estimated in mid-April that 45 cities in China, which represents around 40 percent of its GDP, were under full or partial lockdowns, putting China’s economy of growing risk of a recession.

Taking into account these two major factors, luxury’s rebound is unlikely to continue at the same pace that we have seen over the past year, however the long-term fundamentals of the industry were and still are very attractive and despite the challenge of a crisis, consumers are more engaged and interested in the luxury market than ever before, particularly as brands now have more tools than ever in which to engage them.

The findings from our study into luxury demand found that interest in iconic products is at an all-time high, and the trend looks set to continue in the coming year. Consumer demand (measured through Google searches) for products like Cartier’s Love Bracelet and Louis Vuitton’s Neverfull are up 27 percent and 20 percent respectively.

Likewise, our community survey found that more than 85 percent of 112 respondents answered that they felt optimistic about the long-term prospects of the luxury market, demonstrating the positive sentiment felt from those within the industry that the rebound in growth seen over the past two years will continue to trend upwards.

But many of challenges and the questions that arise from them remain unanswered.

What will be the long term effects of the war between Russia and Ukraine on the global markets? When will China ease its lockdown restrictions? Will travel resume to levels seen before the pandemic? Will luxury consumers want to return to buying in stores after embracing the digital experience? And how will brands manage the balance between meeting the needs of their local customer and the return of the luxury traveller?

The picture that emerges for the future of luxury isn’t clear cut. Trends that began well before the pandemic are still ongoing or have accelerated. Multiple solutions may be needed to meet the demands of the consumer. And knowing exactly which consumer is attracted to your brand is what companies will need to focus on in order to deliver the exact service that customers expect.

To return to our earlier points at the beginning of this report, we believe in order for brands to succeed in this environment, they must consider the best practices demonstrated by luxury’s leading brands when faced with challenges ahead: preparation, investment, creativity, agility, locality, data and mindset. As those who are able to successfully navigate the challenges that may lie ahead, will be the winners.

The first challenge that many companies are trying to prepare for is the return of the luxury traveller. When will a sense of normalcy resume and when can travel resume to the levels seen pre-pandemic so that brands can anticipate what to provide when demand resumes?

In 2021, international tourism was estimated to have risen by 4 percent, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, recording 15 million tourist arrivals compared to 2020. However, this was far below the levels seen in 2019, before the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, where almost 1 billion more tourists travelled in 2019, representing a 72 percent drop.

The Challenges

Pre-pandemic, the economic contribution of tourism (measured in tourism direct gross domestic product) in 2019 was valued at $3.5 trillion, and while 2021 is estimated to be $1.9 trillion, it still trails behind 2019 levels.

There are early signs that 2022 may see an uptick in travel. Luxury travel companies like Abercrombie & Kent are reporting a “new sense of urgency” to travel due to clients feeling like they have lost out on the past two years and according to a survey of 12,000 travellers in 12 countries conducted by Expedia, 65 percent of respondents are planning to “go big” by planning exciting or extravagant trips for the coming year.

What this may mean is that travel in some form or another will resume, and with that, the desire to spend and spend big – be that on experiences, or dining out, purchasing goods or planning trips to destinations further afield, is high, which as a result may shift where luxury demand is attributed to.

However, it may not return in as big a way as hoped given that both Russian and Chinese consumers are being impacted by the ongoing uncertainties in both their countries. UNWTO estimates that Russia and Ukraine represent a combined 3 percent of global spending on international tourism as of 2020 and that a prolonged conflict could represent a loss of $14 billion in tourism receipts globally in 2022.

In China, where the country is currently experiencing numerous weeks of lockdown, international tourism is a significantly higher portion of the pie.

However, according to recent surveys conducted by McKinsey to understand Chinese travellers’ sentiments, desire for travel has spiked and dipped as COVID-19 outbreaks continue. The report found that “Chinese travellers express a desire to travel, both domestically and abroad, but while the majority of respondents still perceived international travel as unsafe and are not planning international travel in the near term, they also show strong interest in international destinations.”

We expected to see a massive rise in revenge spending across several categories beyond travel,” said David Sadigh, Founder and CEO of DLG.

Lots of people have been frustrated and are eager to spend money and enjoy life again. But this is now intimately tied to the evolution of the geopolitical and macro-economic situation.

As a result, business agility has become mandatory. Forget the usual long-term brand planning with advertising campaigns that are designed several months in advance. Brands must now be able to design and implement new initiatives within a matter of days or weeks.

The second challenge is how brands manage the balance between meeting the needs of their local customer - as they have done since restrictions were lifted - and who have been the driving force of the recovery seen in China and the United States and the immediate needs of the luxury traveller, whose pent-up desires to spend on luxury goods whilst travelling might outweigh the outcome of the local customer.

Local Versus Global

Will local customers, who have benefitted from luxury brands lavishing attention on them by flocking to open stores nearer to them or adapted services like private showroom appointments, video shopping consultations, and communicating through messaging apps, want to go back to being less important in the eyes of a salesperson who will have to balance the personalised service that they now offer to customers against a travelling customer who is in the mood to spend big and may take less time to convince on a purchase?

“The personal aspect of shopping and service is extremely important today,” said Robert Burke, CEO and Chairman of Robert Burke Associates, noting the success of The Webster, a multi-brand boutique with seven stores in the U.S. and an e-commerce site.

“During the height of the pandemic, they had their sales people in contact with their customers on Instagram and on WhatsApp. And they were going into the stores even when they were closed and pulling merchandise specifically for those customers and sending that over to them. Offering the level of service and personal shopping that previously had only been available to the very, very big spenders.”

“It was an extremely good lesson, it has stayed with people and it's paid off for the brands,” he added. I think that's kind of what people expect now, is that personalised service. That's changed enormously from pre-pandemic,” he added.

“It will be interesting to see how luxury brands deal with the local clientele they often overlooked before the pandemic and then suddenly had to seduce in a way they never did before,” noted Zimmermann. “Because it’s not the same business. Sometimes, it’s not even the same merchandising. The customer journey is completely different.”

The mistake would be just to go back to how it was in 2019,” said Zimmermann. “Brands need to consider how they address their local clientele because we now know how quickly things can change, and how important this group is to growth as well.

The third challenge is the balance between the in-store experience and digital. Will luxury customers want to return to buying in stores after embracing the digital experience during the pandemic?

Physical Versus Digital

As we have seen over the past two years, the pace of digital acceleration within the luxury space has changed the way in which online services are used forever. Companies pushed forward their plans and reported that online sales were booming. Since the start of the pandemic, Hermès reported that it attracted new shoppers online, and even when its stores reopened and customers returned to purchase in physical locations, its online sales also kept growing.

As noted earlier in our interview with Rachid Ait Addi, Vice President of Client Partnerships at Teads, the world’s leading video advertising marketplace, conversations about a new innovation or digital campaign that previously would have taken a year to sign off (pre-pandemic) were suddenly being activated and launched within a few months of discussion.

Interest from some of the world’s leading brands to work with Teads’ Creative Services team to develop new digital media concepts soared, and for Ait Addi, it represented a change in mindset from his clients that luxury was finally ready to embrace what digital media advertising could offer.

It's really adapting their DNA for this new digital age. – Rachid Ait Addi

One key example for Ait Addi was with a client, who previously would take up to a year to consider new creative ideas and concepts pitched to them by his creative team, but following the pandemic really embraced the opportunity to explore what digital advertising could offer.

“Digital is really the first point of media for those brands now. We really see a change in the mindset,” Ait Addi, said of the shift. “The creative team used to talk about ‘luxury time’, meaning that luxury brands really take their time to embrace innovation and even a new creative idea. Usually, we pitch an idea, and then a year later, they activate it during the space of six months. So, I was really surprised that in the first half of this year, we saw more creative innovation from them than in the last two years.”

“The boundaries between digital and offline are not as obvious as before and the boom of the Web3 and hopes related to the Metaverse are further accelerating this trend,” added Sadigh. “We expect brands to create more physical products that also offer a unique digital experience and vice versa. The NFT revolution is real and just at its infancy.”

Supply Chain

An ongoing issue from the past two years is supply and production. While some companies have benefited during the pandemic, others have suffered due to issues like supply chain. In the automotive sector for instance, many carmakers are reducing the number of cars they plan to make because of a shortage of chips and are prioritising putting those chips into more expensive models, pushing demand and new vehicles prices up.

It’s something that was confirmed in our interview by Beat Imwinkelried, the owner and chief executive of B.I. Collection, a luxury car dealership based in Zurich. Clients were demanding luxury cars immediately and they were willing to buy pre-owned. With supply chain issues occurring in virtually every industry globally, how do companies and brands plan for the future?

The price of raw materials, shipping and production are just some of the costs that are expected to rise in the coming months within all global industries, and companies are under pressure to produce goods, even at a time when it may cost them infinitely more, resulting in the cost being passed onto their customers. Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel have increased their product prices since the start of the pandemic and the trend looks set to continue.

“It can take weeks or months to adapt,” noted Zimmermann. It’s one of the most challenging parts as a business. Do you plan for demand at the level of 2020, or 2021? Do you create scarcity and drive demand up, or ramp up your plans to meet what you anticipate demand may be? Where do you put the cursor?”


Where to put the cursor brings us to one of the biggest trends over the past few years. Sustainability. Demand for second-hand or pre-owned luxury is at an all-time high. A recent study by consulting firm McKinsey and Co. expects the resale luxury market, which was estimated at $25-30 billion in 2020, to grow at an annual rate of 10-15 percent over the next decade, thanks in part to online resale trading platforms like Vestiaire Collective and The Real Real.

Many brands are responding to these changes. In 2022, we have already seen announcements like Moncler declaring that it will phase out the use of fur in its collections by 2023, Burberry signing its sustainability-linked loan and Richemont appointing its first chief sustainability officer.

But are these changes enough to address the concerns that consumers have about issues like provenance, circularity and the reduction of waste from an industry built on selling people the dream of something they probably don’t actually need?

“Change is about entire systems, not siloed policies,” noted Positive Luxury Chief Executive Diana Verde Nieto. “While luxury brands are taking steps to address Environmental, Social, and Governance, they should adopt a more systems positive approach to their businesses and look to embed it within their culture,” she wrote in a column for Luxury Society.

This means business transformation at a global scale, with a genuine change of culture, from the way business is conducted, to the way business is operated. – Diana Verde Nieto

“Recruitment, retention, and evaluation of performance, the way products are produced, the procurement process of raw materials, the choices of suppliers, the supply chain management, and the re-education of boards and shareholders on how to rethink success as not just double-digit growth year-on-year but also share value.”

And lastly, one of the parting thoughts to consider about the future of luxury is whether people will consume it in the same way, and whether consumers will have different criteria when it comes to the brands they pick.

Major brands as we know well are investing a lot in engaging consumers in all different areas, from sustainability to the metaverse and beyond. And it is clear that those who can win the attention of multiple niche groups will be winners as discussed earlier in this report. But what is also clear is that brands with a niche approach, those focused on a particular product or service, offering a limited selection of a la carte or bespoke experiences will also attract a new clientele looking for something different that perhaps the bigger brands are unable to provide.

Data is obviously critical, but the ability to translate the data into actions at scale and globally is where the biggest challenge lies
– David Sadigh

“Data is obviously critical, but the ability to translate the data into actions at scale and globally is where the biggest challenge lies,” said Sadigh. “How can I, as a brand, build automated experiences that will help to elevate my brand perception? That will further foster desirability for my products? That will motivate my customers to come back to my stores?”

The question remains on how to engage that specific person who is attracted to your brand, when it comes to content, or tone of voice, products and messaging. Data remains key to knowing your audience so that companies can learn about their audience and apply their knowledge in the most direct and appealing way to their consumers.

All of these metrics that brands use to measure and assess who their audiences are, are digital tools that brands use to understand their customers, their expectations, their desires and how to craft an experience in the modern age for them, and those who fail to do so, may be left behind in this decade of change.

We want to take the time to thank you, our loyal readers, for your thoughts, insights and participation in The Deep Dive. It has been a pleasure to explore this topic over the past few months and share our findings with you. For the full downloadable report, please click here. We look forward to delving into another topic with you soon.

Part 4