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The New Language of Luxury

The New Language of Luxury

Millennials are changing the shape of the luxury market in the UK, according to insight from Hearst Magazines UK.

In Brief

The Language of Luxury study investigates how the definition of luxury has shifted and broadened among consumers of luxury brands. 

This research explores the lives of UK adults aged 25-65 who have bought a luxury item in the last six months and have a disposable income for luxury products.

Participants in the research project were luxury consumers spanning three different generations: Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers, and three income stratas: Ultra High Net Worth (£5m+), Premium (£80k-£500k) and Masstige (£35k-£100k).

There was an even spread of male to female participants, all participants had been UK residents for at least five years and 50% engaged with monthly magazines (via print, online or app). 

The research also sought insight from experts including an investment manager, haute couture wedding dress designer, art dealer and a luxury travel agent.

The study discovered that the definition of luxury shifts dramatically according to age and life stage, with significant differences in how Millennials, (aged 20-early 30’s) and Boomers, (Mid 50’s–65) explore and consume luxury brands.

Key Findings

  • Luxury consumers want to “discover” products and are wary of over-exposure

  • 32% of Millennials describe their purchases as ‘exclusive’ compared to 22% of Boomers

  • Younger consumers care more about the ethical and environmental impact of luxury brands – 14% compared to just 3% of Boomers

  • 21% of Millennials see luxury as “fun” compared to 12% of Boomers

  • 21% of Millennials interpret luxury as “personalised” compared to 15% of Boomers

  • 24% of Millennials see luxury as a product of their success compared to 12% of Boomers

  • Magazine brands have a unique role to play in how consumers choose luxury products: 41% of Millennials say their luxury purchase was initially influenced by something featured in a printed magazine

  • Millennials are re-shaping the consumer journey for luxury
    • 47% of Millennials turn to social media when thinking about alternatives, compared to 3% of Boomers, who apart from the initial online search, follow a more traditional path to purchase.
    • Prior to final purchase, Millennials turn to technology to seek reassurance from their peers with 34% talking about it via text/chat/messaging, compared to just 4% of Boomers.
    • Post purchase, Millennials turn to social media to reinforce their buying decision, with 22% sharing it for validation, compared to 4% of Boomers.