Press release

Following a record year, the stalled luxury goods market faces a dilemma between catering to top clientele and reaching new audiences amid ongoing complexities

Following a record year, the stalled luxury goods market faces a dilemma between catering to top clientele and reaching new audiences amid ongoing complexities

  • June 18, 2024
  • min read

Press release

Following a record year, the stalled luxury goods market faces a dilemma between catering to top clientele and reaching new audiences amid ongoing complexities
  • A resurgence in tourism and appetite for luxury experiences has facilitated stable growth, but brands will need to rethink their value propositions to remain relevant despite growing competition
  • Personal luxury brands are finding themselves in a moment of crisis, driven by macroeconomic pressures, waning consumer demand, and dichotomous strategies
  • Increased polarization and dispersion of top and bottom-line performance should inspire a rethink of the industry’s creative and business models

MILAN—June 18, 2024— The global luxury market showcased remarkable stability in the face of geopolitical and economic turbulence in 2023, exceeding a record €1.5 trillion. Behind this growth was a resurgence of luxury travel and a robust US holiday season in the fourth quarter. While the first quarter of 2024 saw a slowdown across a majority of regions amid macroeconomic pressures, Japan has continued to flourish due to a tourism boom. These are among the findings in the latest Bain & Company Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study, released today in collaboration with Altagamma, the Italian luxury goods manufacturers’ industry association.

Bain and Altagamma’s research highlights a continuing trend favouring experiential offerings over tangible goods. Particularly notable is the steady growth in hospitality as well as gourmet food and fine dining, fuelled by the recovering tourism industry and growing demand for immersive experiences. It also points to rising interest in smaller, intimate luxury cruises, which surpass traditional cruise concepts. Additionally, the market has seen consistent growth in private jets and yachts. This comes alongside a slowdown in the auction market for fine arts, due to artwork shortages and economic uncertainties.

The personal luxury goods market saw a slight decline in the first quarter of 2024. Key to maintaining stable growth across subsectors will be luxury brands’ ability to address rising prices while maintaining a robust price-value equation in the eyes of consumers.

“As a narrative of resurgence and resilience emerges, luxury brands must rethink the way they build their value proposition to prioritize trust and connection with consumers,” said Claudia D’Arpizio, a Bain & Company partner and leader of Bain’s global Luxury Goods and Fashion practice, the lead author of the study. “Many are navigating a momentary crisis, driven by macroeconomic pressures and a polarized customer base. This presents a unique moment to define a new way forward for their brands, fostering a more personal connection with their customers. Purpose and love will be the north star for brands that thrive in this increasingly competitive market landscape.”

Japan thrives while nuances arise across other regions

The first quarter of the year is estimated to decrease between one and three percent, at current exchange rates, with significant variability in brands’ performance across and within regions.

Buoyed by tourism inflows in the first quarter of 2024, Europe and Japan have demonstrated notable resilience, with Japan thriving as it attracts a growing number of nationalities beyond the historical predominance of nearby Chinese travellers. Bain’s research shows this resurgence can be largely attributed to the backlog of travel from the previous year, postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions. In Japan, touristic inflows have surpassed pre-pandemic levels, bolstered by a favourable Yen arbitrage—reaching its lowest level against the US dollar in two decades. This has resulted in a surge of tourists from around the globe, flocking to both established destinations and emerging luxury locations across the nation.

China's market is under pressure due to two primary factors: the revival of outbound tourism and weakening local demand caused by rising economic uncertainties. The latter is undermining middle-class consumer confidence, leading to "luxury shame" behaviour similar to what occurred in the Americas during the 2008-09 financial crisis. Likewise, the US continues to face with macroeconomic pressures despite signs of gradual improvement in GDP and consumer confidence.

Generation Z grapples with rising pressures as brands play a dichotomous customer strategy

Facing rising unemployment levels and weakening future outlooks, younger generations are delaying spending in luxury goods. Meanwhile, Gen X and Baby Boomers continue to enjoy accrued wealth, growing their spend as they capture luxury brands’ attention. This complements an ongoing growth of the top consumer tier. Many brands are taking a dichotomous approach, focusing on top clients, with an emphasis on large-scale one-to-many events, while investing to expand their reach by engaging in conversations in new territories, including sport. While sport has long been seen as a branding opportunity for luxury goods, brands are widening their reach by focusing on newer sports, including padel, racing, and football. And of course, luxury brands will be featured prominently at the 2024 Olympics in Paris. These branding opportunities not only give brands a platform for reaching new audiences, but also to engage existing customers in new ways.

Jewellery and small luxuries leading the pack

Jewellery stands out as a top performer in the current landscape, with consumers making investment-led purchase decisions, surpassing watches in growth and showcasing strength in both uber- and entry-luxury segments. Meanwhile, aspirational consumers are also redirecting spending toward makeup, fragrances, and eyewear, viewed as small indulgences. Simultaneously, apparel has outgrown accessories on an elevation strategy aimed at capturing the attention of top-tier customers, with shoes suffering from a slowdown among aspirational shoppers.

“A dual strategy, framed around the allure of top-tier clientele and the appeal of smaller luxury indulgences, is driving growth at both ends of the price spectrum,” said Federica Levato, partner at Bain & Company and leader of the firm’s EMEA Luxury Goods and Fashion practice, co-author of today’s report. “But now is not the time to for brands to rest on their laurels. As brands continue to face turbulence in the market, the winners will be those that rethink the way they craft and deliver their value propositions across multiple price points and touchpoints, growing their reach while building advocacy and loyalty among their customers.”

As they continue to navigate uncertain times, brands will need to invest in growth enablers, defend core business elements, maintain agility in decision-making, and optimize stock management to ensure efficiency and responsiveness to market demand.

Editor’s note: For any questions or to arrange an interview, please contact Orsola Randi (Milan) at or +39 339 327 3672, or Katie Ware (New York) at or +1 646 562 8107.

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