Millennials and fashionable Chinese power growth in luxury sector, research says

Key Points
  • The luxury sector is growing again, boosted by millennials and fashion-conscious Chinese consumers, said a report by Bain & Company
  • The overall luxury market grew by 5 percent to approximately €1.2 trillion ($1.4 trillion) globally in 2017
  • Brands adopting a more personal approach with customers is key to success, one of the authors of the report told CNBC
People ride on escalators in a shopping mall in Hong Kong.
Alex Ogle | AFP | Getty Images

The luxury sector has regained its luster after a year of stagnation, boosted by millennials and fashion-conscious Chinese consumers, according to a report.

The overall luxury market, which includes both goods and experiences, grew by 5 percent to approximately €1.2 trillion ($1.4 trillion) globally this year, a survey by consultancy Bain & Company found.

Some 85 percent of growth in the sector was due to millennials – those born from the mid-1980s through to the 1990s, and generation Z, those born between the mid-1990s and 2000s.

Meanwhile, "increasingly fashion-savvy Chinese customers" caused sales in China to skyrocket by 15 percent this year, with the total market now worth €20 billion.

Brands are "changing the rules of the game to embrace ... the customer," Claudia D'Arpizio, a partner at Bain & Company and one of the lead authors behind the report, published last week, told CNBC Friday. "Treating all the consumers like local customers" and "not in a transactional way" was the key to success, she explained.

The rest of Asia, excluding mainland China and Japan, grew by 6 percent, the report said. The Europe market also grew by 6 percent, reaching €87 billion of retail sales while North and South American sales saw growth of 2 percent.

85 percent of luxury growth this year due to younger generations: Bain & Company

Personal luxury goods sales reached a "fresh record high" of €262 billion, according to Bain & Company, boosted by "a return of Chinese buying both at home and abroad." The report added: "The growth in this market is more robust, driven by increases in volumes rather than prices."

Online sales for the luxury sector increased by 24 percent this year. According to the report, accessories were the top category sold online, ahead of clothing. Beauty, jewelry and watches were also all on the rise. Sales from bricks and mortar stores grew by 8 percent in 2017.

Luxury brands' take on streetwear, in an attempt to capture the young market, was cited as particularly successful, with T-shirts, sneakers and jackets proving popular.

Kering, the holding company that encompasses brands such as Gucci and Saint Laurent, reported a surge in sales in its third-quarter earnings out last week, largely thanks to the former brand beating forecasts once again. Earlier in October, LVMH, the world's biggest luxury goods company which counts Luis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Moet & Chandon Champagne among its brands, also posted an earnings beat — with a 12 percent rise in third-quarter like-for-like revenues.

Bain & Company expects positive growth to continue at approximately 4 to 5 percent annually over the coming three years, with the personal luxury goods market in particular reaching an estimated reaching €295-305 billion by 2020.