Luxury landscape in times of corona virus the Next Normal

What is the next normal in the luxury landscape during and after the corona virus crisis and how are the trends changing? A big bang for the benefit of agile, digital, sustainable and social business models

By expert Julia Riedmeier "Neo Luxury"

Neo luxury the next normal

Author: Julia Riedmeier

The Next Normal of the Luxury Landscape - What Comes After Revenge Spending

The pandemic has and will change fundamental aspects of the luxury industry and understanding of luxury. A look into the Baccarat crystal ball remains cloudy, because the future, the next normal, is too uncertain. It remains to be seen whether the luxury landscape will become more fragmented or more polarized on the part of companies and consumers. Especially when the initial revenge spending is over. It can be said with certainty that the luxury market is sensitive like an orchid that blooms when there are signs of a crisis and begins to bud when there are signs of recovery.

After the financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009 and the subsequent Chinese Bulimia, the luxury market would have arrived in the New Normal. 2020 looked generally promising for the luxury industry. The 2019 financial year ended on a positive note - according to Bain & Company with sales of 281 billion euros worldwide and thus a four percent growth - and the first weeks of 2020 seemed to continue the successful course. But suddenly the pandemic shook global normality.

Big Bang by Covid-19 - agile, digital, sustainable, social

After initial survival strategies, the crisis prompted us to question: what are we doing here, what is important to us, what is relevant? As a company and entrepreneur, as a consumer. What is our drive, concern, sense? That has always felt "higher, faster, further", the pursuit of growth, sales, margin has known no limits in recent years. Consumption was (still) often driven by the next hype, the next limited edition, the next instagrammable travel moment. Sustainable? Hardly likely. Now we come to a stop. For reflection. To change. Hopefully. The Big Bang is here and we suddenly had to react. Agile, digital, sustainable, social.

But whether this attitude will prevail in the long term after this bang remains to be seen. As can be seen, these movements were already visible beforehand, but the change was slow, as the Sense of Urgency did not seem acute enough. After overcoming the stiffness of the shock and taking the first steps into the Next Normal, the general desire for the usual normal seems very large and the old patterns are tempting. On the consumer and company side. But now it is a matter of proving the backbone of a company to use its strength and role in the sense of Purposeful Leadership with a social, ethical, ecological awareness and above all to be serious.

Importance of NEO luxury in times of crisis - quality over quantity

Julia Riedmeier and Dr. Jörg Meurer have in the NEO Luxus study developed and defined the phenomenon. Accordingly, NEO Luxus is the third evolutionary stage of luxury, after the traditional luxury of ownership and the new luxury experience. As a sensual luxury, it seems more relevant today than ever. Characterized by seven trends, of which the top trends sustainability (relevance: 72%), health and mindfulness (relevance: 70%), digitalization of luxury including the digital detox counter-trend (relevance: 71%) show the direction to the next normal. What is new is that the weakest trend “lean luxury” (relevance: 35%) and thus the deliberate waiver, the focus on consumption could get a strong headwind against the current background.

The crisis intensifies this and shows us that we can get by with what we have and put quality even more than quantity. This also raises the question of what and to what extent luxury consumers will still be willing to spend money if economic and financial systems are subject to dynamics that cannot be estimated. Then is non-luxury the new luxury? Or is the luxury of property experiencing a revival as an investment luxury - also because Experiential Luxury is currently not possible?

NEO Luxury definition

Source: LBR Luxury Business Report, NEO Luxury Study

When luxury experiences a return to ownership, are the winners icons like a Montblanc masterpiece, a Porsche 911 or a Robbe & Berking collection? And loser "Gucci" newbies who are waiting to hunt the trend truffle pigs? Regardless of the direction in which luxury is moving, one thing is clear: consumption will become more conscious. There is a particular opportunity in the “Made in Germany” seal and in factories that impress with national supply chains and are best able to meet the consumer's desire for transparency, social and ethical responsibility in terms of the company's basic attitude.

In the middle range are the trends of sharing and 2nd life business models (relevance: 58%), increasing luxury casualization, democratization and public luxury (relevance: 50%). They will find their way and position. To quote Andreas Henke from the INLUX / KEYLENS NEO Luxus study: “If there are business models for sharing and 2nd life, then they will also work - until I realize in the crisis that I have only borrowed . It has no substance; it’s ultimately against human evolution. ”

The seventh trend is that of individualization, customization, co-creation (relevance: 75%). This will continue to be authorized. However, whether in the pole position and in the form in which we know it remains questionable. Because we have seen for ourselves that other needs are currently in the foreground.

Success factors for navigating into a next normal

Specifically, the following three guard rails can set the framework for the next normal:

1. Ecological and social sustainability

Companies should fulfill their corporate duty more than ever. As corporate citizens, take responsibility for the community and the environment in which they operate. All in all, act in a socially responsible manner, treat internal and external stakeholders respectfully, and offer services and products that do not fire the narcissistic force, but have a positive effect on the ecosystem.

2. Digitization

Digitization is an important driver and enabler for the next normal. Even before Corona, the elementary function and integration of digital elements became apparent. Whether for the consumer or company in terms of products, communication, distribution or processes. The following questions should be asked: Which analog formats, parts of the value chain exist and which can be digitized and how? How can a personalized marketing experience be created? How can consumers be reached and excited by e-commerce options? Investments should therefore be shifted to digital.

3. Direct-to-consumer

Many companies are just discovering a new customer. The end customer. For a long time this was left to the trade. CRM is often a foreign word, as is systematic lead management. So it's no wonder how little luxury brands know about their customers. But it is precisely this knowledge that is essential and direct end customer access is now becoming a key factor. Young target groups such as millennials in particular seek direct contact with the brand online. To get informed, inspire, to interact with the brand. Assuming that, according to Bain & Company, 85% of global luxury consumers will be younger generations, the fields of opportunity should pulsate with luxury brands.

Losers and winners of the luxury industry

In general, 2020 will be a bad year for the economy and the luxury industry is not spared. It is up to the actors themselves to redesign the industry. To use the crisis as an opportunity to throw old things overboard and to go new ways that would have been (almost) unthinkable a few months ago. The meaning and innovation momentum of NEO Luxus is more important than ever. Those who emerge from the crisis as winners or losers could essentially depend on the following factors.

  1. How healthy and authentic was the company before the crisis – company values ​​become visible and it shows which ones are lived and which are just empty words.
  2. How agile, digital, autonomous is the set-up of the business model - in the sense of agile reaction, digital readiness, cooperation with suppliers and sovereignty over the supply chain.
  3. The general response to the crisis.

Four of 18 management implications have emerged from the INLUX / KEYLENS NEO Luxus study as top measures that should not be missing on any CEO agenda: expanding digital competence, making customer centricity a strategic core issue, management towards a multi-generation / Change nation team character and change current business model. Even in times of Corona, it can be seen that they maintain their validity and become even more important. In combination with the key factors mentioned, this can provide orientation at a time when almost everything seems possible.

You can download the NEO Luxury study here .



Always informed about the latest lifestyle trends, architecture, design & interior, as well as current technologies around sustainability.

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New Luxury

Text: Julia Riedmeier

Julia Riedmeier is managing partner of an owner-managed strategy consultancy with a focus on premium and luxury brands. As a millennial, Julia takes a critical look at established business models. In contact with start-ups in France, Switzerland and Germany, it is important to her to bring this spirit into her projects and to stimulate new ways of thinking. Especially in the area of ​​digital strategies and neo-luxury concepts. In addition to her consulting work, Julia holds a teaching position at the International University of Monaco as well as leading the luxury module at Munich Business School. Her doctoral thesis is dedicated to the topic of luxury brand management in times of co-creation.

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