After a tumultuous 2016 filled with unexpected twists and turns across global economics and politics which impacted the luxury market, 2017 is finally here. A new year brings new challenges and new opportunities. Last year, we saw some distinct changes in the consumer behavior of Affluent Asian travelers and luxury consumers in response to what was happening around them politically and economically.
For example; the Chinese, who started travelling beyond Asia in greater numbers, became more aware of safety at their travel destinations following terrorism in Europe; Singaporeans became more conscious about their discretionary expenses following a weaker economic environment early last year.
Based on the Affluent Insights Luxury Study 2017, conducted in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and United States, we get to see another change taking place in the new year: Affluent Asian consumers are becoming more health conscious in an increasingly uncertain world.
There has been a significant jump in the number of people who aspire to focus on their health more in the near future. In China, where focus on health has been big, the jump between 2015 and 2016 is 18%, whereas in both Hong Kong and Singapore, the jump is 29%.
Looking closely across history, one can observe that people are generally ‘programmed’ to care more about their health and wellbeing as their environment becomes more uncertain, as a way to protect themselves. Oftentimes, this attitude is coupled with less of an appetite for discretionary purchases, as people might see it as excessive.
However, we can also see a stable demand for luxury products, which means that the aspiration to purchase has remained, which means that demand for luxury goods can be predicted to stay.
Similarly, we can also see that there is a high aspiration for travelling abroad for vacation in 2017, which has remained from last year. The good news for the luxury industry is that many luxury consumers mainly buy luxury brands while travelling, even when many will be spending more on luxury in their home country because of price changes or exchange rates.
Due to this combination of focus on health and aspiration to shop luxury goods and travel, we predict that there will be tremendous opportunities for health-related luxury goods and experiences. For example, a designer fashion brand could create a sportswear collection, or collaborate with a sportswear brand to cater to this rising demand.
Health and wellness experiences at travel destinations can also be predicted to soar in popularity, such as luxury spa treatments and yoga trips out in nature. Hotels and tourism boards worldwide must tap into this trend.
To better illustrate the opportunities presented to luxury brands, we have compiled a selection of case studies on how brands in luxury goods and travel spheres have focused on health and wellness offerings.
PUMA x McQ: Puma and Alexander McQueen Partnership
“The design heritage and rebellious attitude of McQ with PUMA’s history of performance innovation.”
Combining the storytelling element of traditional fashion houses, bold colours that are characteristic of Alexander McQueen, Puma’s youthful and “cool” brand image, and sportswear brands’ emphasis on design innovation; the PUMA x McQ colourful sport shoes engineered to be both fashionable and athletic can be predicted to win the active and affluent millennial market.
We also find the collection particularly relevant to the Asian consumers due to the frequent use of the colour red, which is associated with good luck in Asian cultures.
Plein Sport Line
“Expect the Unexpected”
The so-called “world’s first luxury active sportswear brand” was initiated by German designer Philipp Plein who believes that there is still a lack of luxury brands focusing on sportswear in the market and that the market is still currently dominated by Nike and Adidas, even among the affluent segment.
The collection emphasizes on bold colours and light textiles materials, which is meant to enhance athletic performance. The mysterious, urban, and masculine mood of the brand shows how it’s mostly geared toward the modern man with an active lifestyle, or what would associate with some sort of modern “warrior”.
Recently, Plein Sport Line was showcased at the Milan Fashion Week, alongside Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, and Armani.
“Fitness, Function, and Fashion”
Founded by a tennis aficionado and fashion designer, Stefani Grosse, who designed for Donna Karan and Calvin Klein before founding her own brand, Monreal London aims to create activewear that is both fashionable and most optimal for sporty activities. The brand boasts tennis inspired clean looks that are geared toward the modern women who are health and fitness conscious.
Grosse found that before Monreal, most luxury sportswear was mostly fashionable yet did not deliver on the athletic performance, while at the same time, most higher end sports brands did not deliver on the style. This combination of fashion and fitness underlines the brand’s strategy.
Rosewood Asaya Global Wellness Concept in Partnership with Technogym
“An innovative, integrative wellness concept firmly rooted in the belief in both self-acceptance and self-discovery”
Early this year, Rosewood Hotels and Resorts Group just announced its latest “Asaya Global Wellness Concept” to be built into the guest experience. It combines packages in fitness activities (in collaboration with Technogym), nutritionist appointments, spa treatments combining French and Japanese influences, and sporty social sessions such as yoga and Tai Chi where guests can learn from visiting experts. All of them are bespoke, per each guest’s requirements and whims.
“Consciously and unconsciously, wellness is becoming more significant in our day-to-day lives, in the ways we work, eat, sleep and socialize,” says Niamh O’Connell, vice president of guest experience and wellness at the Rosewood Hotels Group, in recognition of the current trend.
The first resort to integrate the concept will be the Rosewood Phuket, which is to open in 2017. Affluent Asian consumers living near the island can be predicted to be ardent visitors.
Ampersand Tailor Made Cultural Travels
“To ensure you leave utterly blissed out”
Last year, we found that culture was in the top two most sought after factors in destination choice, following safety in destination. To mix cultural activities with wellness components would then only make sense to attract the affluent Asian travellers. This is exactly what many luxury travel agencies, including Ampersand, have done.
From learning about Ayuverdic Medicine in India to yoga retreats in the Himalayas, consumers can browse luxury wellness itineraries online and book their customized trips conveniently, implying that digital could still matter when it comes to health and wellness.