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WG&S: ‘Decentralisation of luxury consumers present unique challenges for luxury brands’

Published:  12 January, 2021

The pandemic has caused an accelerated shift in consumer habits and brand activity, driving a decentralisation of luxury and making it irrevocably accessible to consumers, according to William Grant & Sons (WG&S) Trending 2021 Report. 

Despite a recession in consumer spending caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, patterns revealed within the report indicate a widespread adoption of elevated brand experiences and considered indulgences. 

While the value of luxury has been in its perceived exclusivity, both in price and location, for centuries, the report reveals a rapid manifestation of luxury sub-trends, including ‘fewer, more meaningful connections for consumers’; ‘conscious living choices based on freedom and comfort’; ‘individualised, immersive and innovative digital experiences’ and ‘self-actualisation influencing long-term shifts in purchasing decisions’.

“The decentralisation of luxury consumers – this devolution from our wealthy urban centres to the areas around them – truly represents a coming of age for the active-ist consumer. Presented with the opportunity to be more community focussed, more environmentally savvy and conscious of their place in the world, people have done so with remarkable zeal,” said Neil Barker, MD, WG&S UK and Ireland. 

“One can’t help but think that this is a positive step in the right direction for people and the planet. But it does present a set of unique challenges for luxury brands,” he added.  

“Many of the strings on our bow have been snipped due to the pandemic. Reaching off-trade consumers where they once were has become a futile endeavour. Understanding that this renewed sense of purpose, place and community is here to stay will change the way many luxury brands have always acted.”

To find their place within local communities brands need to “be invited to do so”, he said. “They need to add value to people’s lives and experiences in a way that is both natural and personal, understanding of their values, and providing entertainment and laughter during these tough times.”

WG&S worked in partnership with Kantar’s Consulting Division as part of its Trending 2021 programme to produce the report, which also contains consumer data from CGA Brand Track and Kantar World Panel.