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Analyst Pulse: Economy, Standard, Premium or Luxury? Brand Perceptions Around the World

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Abstract: To better understand perceptions of luxury brands and luxury brand buying practices, Passport Survey reached out to Euromonitor International’s global network of analysts from 80+ markets.


As consumer products expand their global boundaries, it is important to track how luxury brands are perceived across different regions and markets, specifically how these perceptions relate to trends in buying behaviours. The perception of brands as luxurious and trends in buying behaviours differ between developed and emerging markets and even between regions. For example, standard, or “affordable” European and American brands that are expanding into newer (often emerging) markets may have the opportunity to position their products as more “up market”. To find out more, Passport Survey asked Euromonitor International’s global network of analysts to categorize selected brands of beauty products, timepieces, and apparel according to their local reputation, as well as the common occasions for which luxury goods might be purchased.

Perceptions of Luxury Brands

Emerging markets tend to perceive brands as more luxurious 

Brands that are generally perceived in developed markets as standard, or affordable, tend to be perceived as more luxurious in emerging markets. Across apparel, timepieces, and beauty products, Latin America is most likely to perceive historically affordable brands as more luxurious, while the US and Canada are more likely to perceive these brands as standard or even economy. There are also additional regional variations within product types. For instance, Swatch has more ‘luxury’ mindshare in EMEA than in Asia Pacific, while Fossil sees the reverse.

Chart 1 Perception of Beauty Brands as ‘Luxury’ Goods—By Region

Chart Perception of Beauty Brands as ‘Luxury’ Goods— By Region


Source: Euromonitor International Analyst Pulse survey; May 2013.

Note: Showing percent of analysts who report the brand is perceived as ‘premium’ or ‘luxury’ in their country.

Chart 2 Perception of Timepiece Brands as ‘Luxury’ Goods—By Region

Chart Perception of Timepiece Brands as ‘Luxury’ Goods— By Region

Source: Euromonitor International Analyst Pulse survey; May 2013.

Note: Showing percent of analysts who report the brand is perceived as ‘premium’ or ‘luxury’ in their country.

Chart 3 Perception of Apparel Brands as ‘Luxury’ Goods—By Region

Chart Perception of Apparel Brands as ‘Luxury’ Goods— By Region

Source: Euromonitor International Analyst Pulse survey; May 2013.

Note: Showing percent of analysts who report the brand is perceived as ‘premium’ or ‘luxury’ in their country.

Degree of premium/luxury association varies by brand

Across markets, almost all analysts rate Burberry, Rolex, Tag Heuer, Chanel, and Clinique brands as luxury or premium, rather than standard or economy. We then asked these analysts to provide additional detail on the perception of these brands as ‘premium,’ ‘super premium,’ or ‘luxury.’ Rolex is perceived to be the most luxurious brand, with about 4 out of 5 analysts reporting it to be a luxury brand in their country. About half of the analysts report Chanel and Burberry to be luxury brands. Tag Heuer is balanced between luxury and super premium, while Clinique is largely perceived as a premium, rather than luxury, brand.

Chart 4 Detailed Perceptions of ‘Premium/Luxury’ Brands

Chart Detailed Perceptions of ‘Premium-Luxury’ Brands

Source: Euromonitor International Analyst Pulse survey; May 2013.

Note: Among analysts who initially marked brand as ‘premium/luxury’, showing proportion of analysts who subsequently reported the branded as perceived as ‘premium,’ ‘super premium’ or ‘luxury in their country.

Preferences for Buying Luxury Brands

Developed markets prefer affordable brands or discounted products

When buying luxury goods, consumers show different inclinations in their buying behaviours. Buyers in both developed and emerging markets appear to be cost-conscious with regard to luxury goods; however, this frugality translates to variations in typical buying behaviours.

Buyers in developed markets prefer affordable luxury products or luxury products that are highly discounted, such as during a flash sale or a limited time offer. These buyers are also more likely to purchase luxury products seasonally, perhaps around the holidays as gifts.

Alternatively, buyers in emerging markets prefer to buy luxury products abroad or at duty-free areas, where they often cost less than in their home countries. Cost-consciousness is also more likely to show itself via purchases of imitation luxury products in emerging markets. Here, the appearance of luxury sometimes matters more than an authentic luxury good or store experience.

Chart 5 Observed Luxury Buying Behaviours—Emerging vs. Developed Markets

Chart Observed Luxury Buying Behaviours—Emerging vs. Developed Markets

Source: Euromonitor International Analyst Pulse survey; May 2013.

Note: Showing percent of analysts who report each buying behaviour as a trend in their country.

In both emerging and developed markets, luxury goods are sought domestically and abroad and consumers are willing to exert a great deal of effort to find examples that fit their budgets. The heightened status associated with buying and wearing or toting luxury brands instead of standard brands still holds great allure for many consumers.


In this truly global market for luxury goods, historically premium brands, such as Burberry, are competing with standard brands entering emerging markets. These brands may look into increasing their prices in emerging markets in order to maintain their “luxury” perception in relation to standard brands also entering the market. In contrast, premium brands in developed markets who wish to expand their customer base should focus on marketing themselves as a more-affordable option and can selectively increase their exposure by offering discounted products during seasonal buying sprees or flash sales. Simultaneously, higher prices and import duties are also feeding consumer trends of buying products abroad or in duty-free shops, and purchasing imitation products.

Introduction to Analyst Pulse Survey

In 2011, Euromonitor International began designing, executing and analysing its own surveys in order to expand its trusted global research. This is part of a series of articles presenting the results of its Analyst Pulse surveys.

In Analyst Pulse surveys, Passport Survey reaches out to Euromonitor’s network of in-country analysts and in-house researchers around the world in order to find out more about current consumer attitudes and habits on a wide variety of topics, from economic outlook to daily activities. The Survey team collaborates with Euromonitor industry managers to identify topics and design questions. In August 2012, 247 researchers answered questions about the perceptions and habits of their countrymen with regard to luxury brands and purchase trends; these questions were created in partnership with the Luxury Goods team.

More on the sample: Our global analyst network

Analyst Pulse survey results differ from other survey data cited on Passport Survey (eg, findings from the Annual Survey or Global Youth) and should be interpreted with some caution. Analyst Pulse responses reflect the opinions and habits of several hundred of Euromonitor International’s in-country analysts and in-house researchers around the world. As such, results reflect a great degree of geographic, economic, and cultural diversity among educated consumers.

On the other hand, Euromonitor International’s researchers do not constitute a random sample of consumers in a given country or across the globe, so their responses do not necessarily represent the opinions of a broader population of consumers. Passport Survey presents their attitudes and behaviours in order to provide starting points for potential further investigations and sparks of tactical insight.

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