Luxury is back at the forefront of fashion and lifestyle despite the still shaky worldwide economy.
Findings from the 2013 Harris Poll EquiTrend, show gains in brand equity across 155 categories from auto makers to department stores across three key criteria: Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Consideration.
"This may show that after a number of years spent tightening their belts, consumers are looking to the quality and value they feel these brands provide,” said Aron Galonsky, SVP Brand and Communication Consulting at Harris Interactive.
Mercedes-Benz took top honors in the Luxury Automotive brand category for the third consecutive year, with Acura (which takes on uber-luxury in its latest US TV commercial, below), Audi, BMW, Infiniti and Land Rover receiving their highest scores ever. Harley-Davidson got its highest score in the study's 25-year history regaining top spot as Motorcycle Brand of the Year.
Saks and MAC Cosmetics upped their scores from 2012 and are both top ranked in their categories with gains of 8.9 and 9.3, respectively, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts topped the luxury hotel chain category.
Starwood is so bullish it expects to have enough cash in the next three years to add another global luxury brand bringing their total to ten. “All of our brands have a global vibe about them,” said Vasant Prabhu, CFO and vice chairman, reports HotelNewsNow. “They're acceptable everywhere in the world and every one of them has a global pipeline. They're not U.S. brands, like some of our competitors have, that are trying to make it outside the U.S. These are truly global brands.”
Mitzi Gaskins, VP/global brand manager for JW Marriott, who’s overseen the brand since 2010 says, “Overall, the luxury space is growing a lot,” reports CNN Money. “There were only 10 JW hotels in the first decade that the brand existed, and now we're anticipating 50 percent growth over the next four to five years with 79 JW hotels up and running by 2015. Of the 30 or so hotels we have in the pipeline, less than half are in the United States.”
In the luxury real estate market, space remains a primary challenge. “The problem with the sector is not that of a slowdown,” says Darshan Mehta, president and CEO, Reliance Brands Ltd, reports LiveMint. “The critical issue is the lack of right retail spaces and environment. If luxury sector growth in India has to escalate, it has to look beyond same-store sales and set up new stores at the right places. That’s how it grew in China.”
Developers like DLF Ltd., India’s largest by market value, is creating two malls in Chanakyapuri in New Delhi and Gurgaon. Real estate developer 3C Company is planning to build Delhi One, a shopping arcade for luxury brands in Noida on the outskirts of Delhi by 2015. Developers must find the right tenant mix for it to work. “I cannot name the mall or the brands, but at least 12 luxury brands refused to sign up with a luxury mall when they discovered that its anchor tenant was a departmental store,” said Mehta. “So it is not just about creating real estate, it is about getting it right.”
Global demand for luxury British brands such as Jimmy Choo and Burberry are giving the U.K. hope their economic gloom is clearing as exports are climbing and Business Secretary Vince Cable is eyeing China, Brazil and India to promote upscale British brands including Aspinal of London, Hackett London and Turnbull and Asser.
Marks & Spencer, TM Lewin, Boots, Tesco, The White Company and Waitrose are all part of the UK Retail Industry International Action Plan Cable announced at Retail Week Live in London.
“While the UK high street is in the doldrums, exports of some of the country’s biggest brands are soaring. By 2015 global demand for luxury goods is expected to soar by almost 60 percent," the Daily Mail reported.