Executive Briefings

What Lies Ahead for Luxury in 2017

In 2017 the luxury industry will be faced with a precarious balancing act on multiple fronts. Brands will be forced to find an equilibrium between an exponential growth in technology and their traditional emphasis on the human hand; between understanding their customers' behavior and surveilling it; between their global presence and their local consumer groups; and between the poles of a customer spectrum that stretches not just around the world, but over decades, from Generation Z to the silver dollar.

If they do not, they risk failure — not because of the macro environment of economic and geopolitical uncertainty, though that cannot be ignored, but because of their own inability to change with an ever more rapidly changing world.

Risk is no longer defined as “doing something new,” but rather “doing what was done before,” while the greatest opportunity lies in accessing, and embracing, “the soulful economy.”

Such were the conclusions of the Global Leaders’ Collective, a gathering of chief executives from companies like Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Gucci, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Chloe and Jimmy Choo, as well as the Four Seasons and Taj Hotels, among others, hosted by The New York Times this month. They came together at the Watergate Hotel in Washington for a day of briefings on the world in 2017 from speakers that included Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff; Ray Kurzweil, the futurist; Penny Pritzker, the United States secretary of commerce; Meridith Valiando Rojas, the founder of DigiFest; and Al Gore.

The following discussion shone a new light on some of the internal challenges of the industry, which is predicted by the Bain Global Luxury Study of 2016 to grow between only 3 percent to 4 percent in 2017 — far from its double-digit numbers during and after the recession. Though the slowdown, which began in 2014, was previously often attributed to the crackdown on gift-giving in China as well as the growing sophistication of the Asian consumer and overexpansion, the study identified digital disruption, the pace of change and the need to reframe the relationship between technology and luxury as the most crucial issues in the coming year, no matter the geography or product focus.

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If they do not, they risk failure — not because of the macro environment of economic and geopolitical uncertainty, though that cannot be ignored, but because of their own inability to change with an ever more rapidly changing world.

Risk is no longer defined as “doing something new,” but rather “doing what was done before,” while the greatest opportunity lies in accessing, and embracing, “the soulful economy.”

Such were the conclusions of the Global Leaders’ Collective, a gathering of chief executives from companies like Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Gucci, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Chloe and Jimmy Choo, as well as the Four Seasons and Taj Hotels, among others, hosted by The New York Times this month. They came together at the Watergate Hotel in Washington for a day of briefings on the world in 2017 from speakers that included Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff; Ray Kurzweil, the futurist; Penny Pritzker, the United States secretary of commerce; Meridith Valiando Rojas, the founder of DigiFest; and Al Gore.

The following discussion shone a new light on some of the internal challenges of the industry, which is predicted by the Bain Global Luxury Study of 2016 to grow between only 3 percent to 4 percent in 2017 — far from its double-digit numbers during and after the recession. Though the slowdown, which began in 2014, was previously often attributed to the crackdown on gift-giving in China as well as the growing sophistication of the Asian consumer and overexpansion, the study identified digital disruption, the pace of change and the need to reframe the relationship between technology and luxury as the most crucial issues in the coming year, no matter the geography or product focus.

Read Full Article