The luxury goods industry is a broad market with brands that appeal to consumers worldwide. Even though investing in this sector can have potential, it’s important for investors to do their research before spending large sums of money. This guide will serve as an introduction to the world of luxury goods stocks and how they work.
Luxury products are very different from necessities. High-end products are those that consumers want but do not need. The brand is the crucial component of a luxury product. Its perceived quality confers status upon the owner. Therefore, the top luxury goods stocks are those with strong brands and high operating margins.
While luxury goods can be durable, they can also be consumable items like cosmetics or cigars.
Most investors tend to think of retail when they think of luxury. It often includes fashion from high-end brands such as Jimmy Choo and Kate Spade. However, one can broadly segment the sector into various categories: food and dining, travel and accommodation, fashion, and services.
What are luxury goods?
A luxury item is coveted within a society or culture. Therefore, its demand increases when a person’s income rises. The higher the percentage increase, the greater the rise in luxury items purchases. Since luxury goods are expensive, affluent people are more likely to buy them than those with lower incomes.
Luxury goods can be considered conspicuous consumption. Conspicuous consumption refers to the purchase of luxury goods to show off one’s wealth. A luxury item’s positive income elasticity is considered to be responsive to changes in a person’s earnings. If a person’s income rises, then the demand for luxury items will increase. Conversely, if it falls, then the need for luxury items will decrease. For instance, if people started making more money, the demand for high-definition TVs would increase.
Examples of luxury goods
If the economy goes into recession, the demand for HD TVs will decline, which would mean that HD TVs would become luxuries.
Services such as full-time chefs and housekeepers can also be considered luxury items. Some financial services can also be luxuries if used by people with low-income levels. Additionally, some luxury goods have special packaging to differentiate themselves from the mass market.
The concept of a luxury item can be subjective depending on a person’s financial situation. For instance, a car can be a luxury item to some but a necessity to others.
Some luxury goods are claiming to be Veblen items, which see their demand rise due to their status symbols. As the price of goods increases, so does demand. Price increases can also cause sales to increase, as they boost the perceived value of a product.
Certain luxury items may be subject to a specific tax or luxury tax. Such as large, expensive, and recreational boats or cars. In the 1990s, the US started charging a luxury tax on certain vehicles. However, this practice ended in 2003.
Although what is perceived as luxury may differ among the general public, one usually considers these items a luxury: haute couture clothing, luggage, yachts, homes and estates, wine, sports cars, high-end watches, and jewelry.
Inferior Good vs Luxury Item
Inferior goods are goods that experience less demand as people’s income rises. The name of this phenomenon is a negative elasticity of demand. Luxury items are not inferior goods. On the contrary, they are the goods that people buy when their income increases and they replace inferior goods.
A person’s luxury goods may become inferior to another person’s at different income levels. For instance, if one gets wealthy enough, they may stop buying more luxury cars and turn to buy yachts or airplanes.
The impact of COVID-19 on the luxury goods industry
As the world grapples with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, companies are making an effort to protect their employees and customers. In response to the public’s growing health needs, many luxury companies shifted their attention and addressed these needs by producing hand sanitizers and face masks. Additionally, some businesses made donations to hospitals and other non-profit organizations.
Is Covid19 going to affect the luxury industry long-term or is it a temporary blimp?
COVID-19 affected some of the luxury industry’s most critical components. The pandemic forced consumers to shop online, and, subsequently, retailers needed to adjust. Due to the rise of e-commerce and the increasing number of vertically integrated luxury brands, the ones that cannot modify their business model may find themselves forced out of business.
The damage could extend to established brands that have not fully integrated their distribution models. It could also reach lesser-known names that need to raise capital to finance their expansion.
A game plan for brands
Chinese buyers make up for a large percentage of luxury goods consumers. In 2018, Chinese consumers took more than 150 million trips abroad. They spent more than half of their luxury purchases outside the mainland. Asian consumers are more likely to shop for high-end goods outside their home countries when compared to Europeans. It is partly due to the lower prices in Europe and a sense of excitement and authenticity that comes with buying a brand in its country of origin.
Due to the recent restrictions on international travel, Covid has significantly impacted the luxury spending environment. As the luxury market in China continues to grow, brands need to step up their game to attract high-end consumers. To activate Asian luxury consumers, brands should create differentiated experiences and improve their digital and omnichannel capabilities. As well as engage more deeply with consumers in tier-two and -three cities. The latter will be challenging due to the limitations of customer-service capabilities and the existing retail infrastructure in these cities.
Trade shows and fashion weeks have been essential for brands to maintain strong relationships with consumers and key trade partners. Unfortunately, during the Covid-19 outbreak, live shows were not possible. The luxury industry needed to explore other ways to deliver the same magic that these events can offer. Industry players needed to consider revamping their fashion calendar to make it more coordinated. Some brands considered a streamlined presentation calendar.
Experience vs Luxury
Experiential luxury is one of the fastest-growing segments of the luxury sector. It includes high-end hotels, cruises, and restaurants. Millennials born between 1989 and 1995 are more likely to shop for experiences than luxury items. They prefer “instagrammable” moments rather than purchasing luxury items. Therefore, experiential luxury is very popular with this generation.
Baby boomers were also moving in the direction of experiential luxury over the years. However, experiencing luxury did start to slow down as buyers temporarily turned to purchase goods rather than experiences. Nevertheless, experts don’t predict this trend to last.
Even before the crisis, it was challenging to discuss averages in the sector due to the profit margins spread and growth rates. Even within the same luxury segment and price point, the growth of luxury brands varied significantly. We expect more polarization based on the brand’s financial health, operating model, and response to COVID-19.
Investing in luxury goods stocks during Covid19
Over the past decade, private-equity firms and European luxury conglomerates have been searching for rare gems to acquire. However, due to the Covid crisis, many private-equity firms that were once focused on acquiring high-quality brands were reluctant to keep them when the pandemic broke out. It means that the pandemic forced them to rethink their strategy.
The rise of value-based acquisitions following the financial crisis could create new luxury conglomerates and further industry consolidation. The luxury industry has always shown the ability to adapt to change. During the crisis, some companies will emerge stronger, while others will struggle. Much will depend on how well they can respond to the short-term urgencies related to COVID-19.
Handling immediate priorities
Many luxury executives have shown care and concern for their employees and customers during this challenging time. They took the necessary steps to ensure their operations were running smoothly.
Leaders needed to make sure that their companies could weather the storm. Here are some short-term actions that company executives should consider taking to prepare for crises.
This decline in sales brands encountered was mainly due to the lack of opportunities to shop for commodities. Companies were challenged to handle an unprecedented amount of unsold inventory in 2020 without resorting to steep discounts.
They were notified about the plans of e-commerce retailers and wholesalers to clear their excess inventory. In some cases, inventory swaps were better than aggressive promotions and discounts. One way to use up an excess inventory is by rewarding loyal customers with gifts or other forms of giveaways.
As more stores stayed closed globally, e-commerce was becoming more critical to keeping customers engaged and loyal. With a focus on customer activation instead of brand building, it was important to accelerate digital investments and shift media spend to online channels.
Aside from having their online shop, businesses were bound to consider working with e-commerce companies that provide digital marketing services. This cooperation helped boost sales and attract more consumers.
One of the ways to combat the adverse effects Covid19 brought was to set up a cash-control team to monitor and control the outflow of funds. This team was to have representation from the sales and procurement teams. They would review all operating expenses and lease contracts. Also, prepare to support wholesalers and retailers by extending accounts receivable terms.
The team would also work with government officials to find ways to alleviate cash shortages. Luxury companies needed to take a clean sheet view of 2020 inventory and budget planning. To review plans and assess the impact of COVID-19 on each business unit.
In addition, the cash-control team needed to take a look at the supply chain’s strength. For example, Italy is the world’s biggest producer of luxury goods. Its factories have temporarily been shut down. To minimize the impact, luxury companies assessed the categories and products most likely affected by the storm. The short-term actions that could have been done to reduce the impact included moving inventory to less affected geographic markets and improving online orders.
In the medium term, luxury companies should have supported production partners in recovering from the disaster. For example, if Italy’s Faconniers did not survive, the luxury ecosystem would have lost its signature ‘Made in Italy’ element forever.
Rethinking merchandising plans
As consumers became more physically restrained, they started to alter their buying behavior. Some luxury players believed that higher-end items are more resilient than lower-end ones due to a combination of factors such as the desire to maximize value for money and the psychological impact of the recession.
They were also seeing better sales of leather goods and handbags than ready-to-wear apparel. Despite the decline in overall spending, millennials were still buying more clothes than other adult segments. Children’s wear seemed to be doing good as well.
There was no one-size-fits-all approach to merchandising. Instead, brands carefully analyzed their sales data and developed a merchandising plan that fit their customers.
What is next for luxury brand companies? Post-Covid behavior
While it is essential to stabilize the business during the crisis, it is also important to consider the long-term goals and strategies when assessing the recovery. The rise of digital has become the central component of many companies’ operating models. This crisis has motivated many to develop and execute an omnichannel strategy. China’s e-commerce boom has attracted new customers and markets. This pattern will likely play out in other countries as well.
Companies should step up their digital marketing efforts by creating a personalized digital marketing strategy. They should invest more in online channels and explore new ways to work with established e-retailers. Furthermore, to succeed in the luxury market, retailers must create a personalized digital experience that is unique and compelling.
Luxury businesses need to learn how to develop competencies related to transformation and resilience. The luxury industry has created value for the past three decades due to innovation and creativity. However, besides supporting their core competencies, luxury businesses also need to develop their managerial talent to support the CEO’s dynamic leadership. Creating a new C-suite position of a Chief Transformation Officer that focuses on the importance of these competencies could be a way to motivate and attract top talent.
Crises can create new growth opportunities. That is why companies should ask themselves the following:
Should they partner with other companies to expand their operations or product categories? Are there opportunities to acquire or merge companies that were less attractive in the past? What brands would fit well within their portfolio, and what would they look for to become a larger luxury group?
A change in consumer behavior
Expectations for the luxury sector have shifted due to Covid. Once consumers have had time to recover, they will resume their normal behavior. However, the next normal will probably look different. For luxury companies, this means anticipating and responding to the changes that will happen in the future. One trend that is likely to intensify is the demand for more responsible consumption. The evidence to this is the increasing number of companies that provide transparency about their processes and products.
The commercial elements such as digital prototyping and virtual showrooms will also help maintain strong relationships with potential buyers. However, digitizing the supply chain will require investments in innovative technology.
The luxury goods industry is well-placed to weather the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With careful planning and execution, it can emerge even stronger.
Investors guide to luxury goods stocks
Luxury goods can be found across various industries. Aside from fashion, there are plenty of luxury brands in categories such as automobiles, jets, hotels, watches, furniture, alcohol, jewelry, etc. A strong brand and perceived high quality are the key ingredients that give luxury goods their cachet.
According to Bain & Company, the world’s high-end car market is worth almost $600bn annually. And while the personal goods industry is worth $260bn, the fine wines and spirits market is worth $80bn.
The S&P Global Luxury Index is a broad measure of the luxury goods and services industry. It tracks around 80 companies globally. The names of some of the companies are instantly recognizable. They include luxury goods groups such as LVMH and Kering and iconic brands such as MontBlanc and Cartier.
The total return of US dollars from luxury goods stocks over the last decade is 13.7%. It’s reassuringly luxuriant.
The long-term trend in luxury goods stocks suggests defensive qualities.
Luxury goods stocks have been profitable over the long term. The term is “secular growth”. Secular growth means that the luxury goods industry is less affected by global changes. Some examples of such products are alcohol, cigarettes, and medications. While they may fluctuate slightly, the difference is negligible compared to the company whose performance heavily depends on the general economy.
A secular growth trend will not escape a recession. If the economy tanks, people will lose money and feel less inclined to shop and travel. However, the wealthy are not always as affected by the recession as others. They can still enjoy the luxuries that come with being rich.
Even in tough times, companies can still grow if they have the right factors to boost their profits. These factors can be referred to as structural trends and are helping industries adapt to the changes brought about by the global economy.
The two critical structural changes that have significantly altered the luxury industry’s landscape are e-commerce and growth in Chinese consumption. During the pandemic, many companies saw their sales plummet. But, despite the decline, luxury goods stocks still managed to outperform the broader market. Covid-19 was the catalyst that brought online shopping to the high street. It helped break the hold over consumers that the high street had.
The future of the luxury goods industry
One of the best ways to measure consumption trends in China is through the consumption profile of Tmall. Tmall is an online mall operated by the Chinese conglomerate – Alibaba Group. According to Bain, 70% of the site’s luxury-fashion market consists of Millennials, who are now in their early 30s and are becoming an influential group.
The Gen Z and Millenial generations are more likely to spend on luxury goods than the older generations. Furthermore, the average annual spending by these groups is growing at a faster rate than the overall market. The expectations are these two generations will consume even more as they mature and generate more wealth. Allegedly, these generations will also spend more on quality goods and experiences.
In addition, the two generations are also more conscious of their environment when it comes to luxury goods. It is also significant to note that Gen-Z and Millenials have a more substantial online presence than their elders. Therefore, they can share their influence much quicker. The future will see luxury goods companies capitalize on the word-of-mouth nature of their online marketing.
China is on track to become the world’s biggest luxury market by 2025. According to Bain & Company, the country’s global market share grew to almost double in 2020. One growth driver that helped boost China’s retail industry in the past year was the country’s promotion of duty-free shopping on Hainan. It helped offset the decline in luxury goods spending abroad. In addition, China may expand the number of duty-free zones in the future, which will help keep consumers at home and boost domestic consumption.
The importance of websites
Many companies in the luxury goods industry were initially not interested in e-commerce. Up to five years ago, websites were common to display the end-of-line goods instead of a full range of products.
Some consumers felt reluctant to purchase luxury goods without seeing them in person. The rise of online marketing has helped minimize the anxiety of consumers through better distribution and online facilities. Furthermore, retailers have been able to improve their policies when it comes to returns and refunds.
Online luxury shopping has become a significant player in the luxury market. In 2015, just 7% of luxury sales took place online. In 2019, it accounted for 12% of sales. Furthermore, by 2025, it is expected to have a 30% share of the market. However, it is not just about sales growth. It is also about the long-term effects of online marketing on companies and their profitability. For instance, with online shops, brands can penetrate new markets and regions, improve their profitability, and attract new customers.
As China’s e-commerce market grows, it is becoming more important for luxury goods companies to stay ahead of the curve in terms of innovation and sourcing. A diversified portfolio of luxury goods groups can help investors gain exposure to Asia beyond China. It is also a clever way of diversifying one’s investment horizon.
Luxury goods stocks and funds to buy
Many luxury-goods stocks have diversified portfolios. One example is French giant LVMH, which Bernard Arnault started building up during the 1980s.
It started with the Louis Vuitton Malletier and has since expanded to include Givenchy, Berluti, and Christian Dior. It is a powerful collection of fashion brands with strong defensive qualities and the capability of exceeding long-term rewards. Another example is the Richemont group, which owns MontBlanc, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Cartier.
Ralph Lauren, the preppy-style apparel maker is showing a disciplined focus on its core brands while its e-commerce platform attracts younger audiences.
Farfetch is an online fashion retailer that’s making a name for itself in the luxury market with a variety of products and services. In addition, Bank of America has partnered with Alibaba to sell Farfetch’s products on Tmall. Farfetch is an excellent example of how e-commerce and China’s luxury market can work together.
One of the ways to play the luxury sector is through an exchange-traded fund. The Amundi S&P Global Luxury is available in sterling and can be bought online. It comes with a variety of features, such as self-investment in personal pension and individual savings accounts. It has a global exposure of 40% to the US and 22% to France. Its most significant holdings are Tesla and LVMH. This fund is slightly different, with fewer holdings and annual charges of around 1.25%.
Is investing in luxury goods stocks a good idea?
With the recovery of the economy, the luxury goods market will likely thrive.
In theory, luxury goods stocks are always a good investment. It is because most luxury items’ perceived value increases or stays the same over time. The perceived value is the customers’ perception of a product’s worth rather than its actual value. It can vary depending on the current market demand and its perceived quality.
The first category of luxury goods that might lose value is the one that has been overproduced or has seen their perceived value decline. A decrease in a luxury goods brand’s perceived value can be explained by various factors such as bad management strategies or scandals. Most of the time, the perceived value of luxury goods will increase over time. In fact, by virtue of their attributes, most luxury goods are valuable products. Each year, some luxury brands increase their prices to reflect the exclusivity and increase their profits.
For example, the price of the Herms Birkin most classic bag increased significantly since 1984 when it cost 2000$. In 2017, the bag was worth 11,900$.
Luxury goods categories
There are various types of goods in the luxury goods category, such as collector’s items, limited edition goods, rare and vintage goods, and discontinued products. For example, a limited-edition shoe is a product that brings a high return on investment. The increasing number of collectors and the collaborations between established and emerging brands are the primary driver of this market.
How to invest in top luxury goods stocks?
Many often think of high-end retailers such as Kate Spade, Louis Vuitton, and Herms when it comes to luxury goods stocks. However, the sector encompasses a wide variety of products and services.
Some of the most notable luxury goods stocks are LVMH, RH, and Ferrari.
The company, previously known as Restoration Hardware, sells high-end home goods. Some of these include $5,000 dining tables and $8,000 couches. The company uses thick catalogs and mailed sourcebooks to stimulate demand. They also sell their products through splashy galleries in North America. Under Gary Friedman’s leadership, the company pivoted to a membership model, which lowered annual membership fees.
LVMH is the world’s biggest luxury company. It has a diversified portfolio of businesses, including fashion and leather goods, fine wines and spirits, watches, and cosmetics. In recent years, most of the company’s growth has been in mainland China, where an emerging middle class has supported the luxury market’s growth. Like most luxury companies, LVMH suffered a revenue decline in 2020. However, it turned around its performance in the second half of the year due to the recovery in China.
Ferrari is famous for its artificial scarcity. This strategy works by creating demand for a limited number of units, becoming a status symbol. Ferrari’s management argues that the company is closer to a luxury brand than an automaker. Its profitability is also higher than that of its peers. China has become a significant market for Ferrari
Analyzing a luxury stock
There are some key differences between luxury stocks and most other company’s stocks when analyzing them.
Because rapid growth can dilute a luxury brand’s reputation, high revenue growth is not the most important quality a luxury company should look for. Instead, investors should also consider the strength of a company’s brand. It can be measured by how much its products and services are priced compared to competitors’.
Operating margin is the most crucial metric to evaluate a company’s profitability. It shows how well a company is converting its revenue into profit.
While investors tend to focus on companies such as LVMH and Hermes, luxury status also extends beyond fashion and retail. For instance, Jordan Brand sells its sneakers for a high price on the secondary market. Starbucks (SBUX) and Airbnb (ABNB) follow the same path in offering luxury products. Premium coffee and luxury rentals through Airbnb Luxe home rentals through their respective platforms. Tesla and Apple are two companies that have successfully crossed the luxury and mass markets.
What luxury ETFs are there?
When it comes to ETFs, the Amundi S&P Global luxury ETF is one of the most popular options. The top 10 holdings in the S&P 500 and the Amundi ETF are Kering, LVMH, Tesla, Richemont, Estee Lauder, Daimler, Nike, Hermes, Diageo, and Pernord-Ricard.
The luxury sector has performed well over the past decade, but it is prone to market corrections and recessions. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the luxury industry quite a bit. It caused supply chains to disrupt, and it restricted tourism. However, some companies such as Tesla have thrived during the crisis.
Top luxury goods stocks
Created by Bernard Arnault, the LVMH group is home to over 75 iconic Maisons, which are known for their distinctive design and heritage. With annual sales of over 44.7 billion euros, they are the only group found in all major sectors of the global luxury industry.
In 6 different industries, their brands are committed to upholding ethical and social responsibility. They strive to create products and run operations with positive social and environmental impacts in mind.
LVMH, also known as Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, is a French luxury group that owns some of the world’s most iconic high-end brands. The company has survived the recession and thrived during times of stress. Investors in the US can buy American depositary receipts (ADRs) of companies listed in Paris on the over-the-counter (OTC) market. Other options include buying stocks in companies that are also related to LVMH. Alternatively, one can buy funds that invest in LVMH. The company has been steadily growing over the past decade, primarily due to its presence in all of the major luxury markets.
The business headquarter is in Paris, and they employ more than 10 000 people. It is listed on the Euronext Paris Eurolist stock exchange.
Company Website: https://www.lvmh.com/
Tod’s S.p.A. is a luxury shoe and leather goods manufacturer based in Italy. Filippo Della Valle started his shoemaking business in a basement in the 1920s. His son Diego then expanded the business and turned it into a factory. The factory started manufacturing shoes for the American market in the 1970s.
Diego established the company’s manufacturing process and innovative marketing strategies during the early 1980s. He then went on to create lifestyle brands.
In 2015, Tod’s bought more shares in Roger Vivier. Then, in 2021, they got Chiara Ferragni to join their board.
The company has a public listing on the Borsa Italiana stock exchange. The symbol is TOD.
Company Website: https://www.tods.com/
Burberry is a luxury fashion house based in London. It designs and distributes ready-to-wear items such as trench coats and leather goods. Burberry was established in 1856 by Thomas Burberry. Initially, Thomas started by designing everyday outdoor clothes. Over the years, the company has moved into high fashion, developing various products such as gabardine and accessories.
The first Burberry shop opened in 1891 in London’s Haymarket. It was reincorporated in 1955. In 2015, the company was ranked 73rd in the world rankings of Interbrand.
Burberry employs more than 10 000 people and has a listing on the London stock exchange with the symbol BRBY.
Company Website: https://www.burberry.com/
Compagnie Financiere Richemont SA is a luxury goods holding company based in Switzerland. Through its various divisions, Richemont engages in the production and marketing of various products such as jewelry, watches, fashion accessories, and firearms.
The company was founded in 1988 and has a headquarter in Bellevue, Geneva. Richemont employs more than 10 000 people and is listed on the SIX Swiss stock exchange with the symbol CFR.
Company Website: www.richemont.com
Hermes is a luxury goods manufacturer founded in 1837. The company specializes mainly in leather goods, including watches and ready-to-wear clothes. Its logo has been changed since the 1950s. Hermes is a family-owned business that has been creating and selling high-quality objects since 1837.
Hermes is committed to creating products with customers’ freedom and autonomy in mind. The company employs more than 10 000 people and is listed on the Euronext Paris stock exchange.
Company Website: www.hermes.com
Christian Dior founded the company in 1947. His vision was to make people feel beautiful. Christian Dior is famous for its French heritage and innovative culture. The brand embodies the spirit of creativity and individuality.
Christian Dior is owned by a parent company – LVMH.
The company was founded in 1947 and currently employs up to 10 000 people. The headquarter is in Paris, Île de France, and the company has a listing on the Euronext Paris stock exchange with the symbol CDI.
Company Website: https://www.dior.com
Capri Holdings Limited is a luxury fashion group that consists of iconic brands. They offer a variety of fashion luxury brands focusing on creating unique and exclusive products. The goal of Capri Holdings Limited is to continue to expand the global reach of its brands while ensuring their independence and exclusive DNA remains.
Michael Kors founded the company in 1981 and has been a fashion trend for women ever since. The company has more than 550 stores and over 1,500 in-store boutiques. Capri Holding is listed on the New York stock exchange with the symbol CPRI.
Company Website: http://www.capriholdings.com/
With a commitment to creating luxury that is both inclusive and unique, Tapestry elevates the exploration of individuality. They believe in the power of brands to create joy. That’s why they work with companies that are committed to creating great brands that people can be proud of.
The value of their brand was not borrowed from past generations. They were created by their customers.
Tapestry has a headquarter in New York and employs more than 10 000 people. The company is publicly traded on the New York stock exchange with the symbol.
Company Website: http://www.tapestry.com/
The company’s history began in 1947 with its first road car – the 125 S. The two-seater won the Rome Grand Prix in 1963.
Since Officine Ferrari has always maintained its commitment to creating unique sports cars that are stylish and practical, Ferrari is synonymous with excellence and sportiness. As a result, it has won many of the world’s most prestigious motor racing titles.
There are also plenty of other models that stand out from the crowd. These include the Ferrari GT.
The company has a headquarter in Maranello, Italy. It was founded in 1947 and employs up to 5000 people. Ferrari stock is publicly traded at the Borsa Italiana stock exchange.
Company Website: www.ferrari.com
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This article was last updated on November 18th, 2021.