Despite the slowly improving world economy, which might actually be facing a set back for a while given what has happened in Japan, luxury goods manufacturers and retailers indicate business is again booming throughout Europe. Why?
The obvious first answer is that the Chinese have become avid luxury brand buyers especially when they travel to the countries where the goods are made. The Russians are to a lesser extent increasingly big buyers of luxury. A less obvious answer seems to be that well-to-do European consumers (French, Italian, German and British--both real and aspiring) are better off than their American counterparts (their financial situation is better because they save more, get more support from their governments and overall maintain their standard of living better than US folks).
What is most interesting to me is "our" thirst for expensive items in our lives. The need to have and to show we are still "doing well" and possibly better than our neighbor. A need to feel flush with the purchase and ownership of truly non-essential although beautifully made items.
Luxury branding has made what seems to be a fairly permanent impression on consumers across the globe. Not just among those who are always rich, but also among those who want to feel rich. It seems consumers still have an insatiable appetite for all things luxury that despite bumps here and there in financial markets will prevail.
An article in today's WSJ indicates that the major lux brand names are all seeing notable increases in sales. That would include Hermes, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Bulgari (just bought by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA). Many of these and other lux brands are investing in new and remodeled stores in key European cities to address the uptick in demand and show a renewed "refreshed" approach to appealing to the lux buyer.
Branding lives another day exceedingly well.
Watching out for you everyday.