By  on February 28, 2008

MILAN — Gucci remains the world's most coveted luxury brand, according to a recent market survey.

In an online poll of 25,000 consumers in 48 countries conducted by market research firm The Nielsen Group in November and published Wednesday, one in five respondents said they would choose to buy Gucci over any other luxury brand if money were no object.

Chanel and Calvin Klein tied for second place, followed by Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, Christian Dior and Versace.

Gucci, which is owned by French retail group PPR, shared first place with Giorgio Armani in the same survey two years ago.

"In the past two years, Gucci has managed to maintain and even increase its brand equity in a very competitive and fickle industry," Nielsen European president Patrick Dodd said. "They have achieved this by consistently embedding their core brand values in all their branded products, which range from perfume and sunglasses to accessories, jewelry, handbags and ready-to-wear fashion."

Gucci designer Frida Giannini's vision of luxury may not be everyone's cup of tea — her bohemian rock 'n' roll women's collection for fall confounded some critics in Milan, for example — but few can deny she knows what sells. Since Giannini took sole control of the design helm two years ago, business has boomed in Asia-Pacific, Russia and the Middle East, and has grown steadily in more mature markets.

Gucci chief executive officer Mark Lee told WWD earlier this month that the company planned a swath of store openings in emerging markets this year, including two in India, and others in Macau, Prague and Budapest.

Lee will be hoping to tempt the 41 percent of Indians and 37 percent of consumers in the United Arab Emirates who told Nielsen they would choose Gucci if money was no concern, and further tap almost a third of consumers in the UAE and Hong Kong who said they already buy Gucci merchandise.

"Shopping is a way of life in these countries, and luxury brands are an essential part of the population's wardrobe, even if it comes in the form of a key chain," Dodd said.

While Gucci topped the survey overall, consumer aspirations differed regionally. Ignoring one's bank balance, Chanel was the top pick among Chinese consumers; Christian Dior was number one for Russians; Louis Vuitton was the favorite of Hong Kong and Filipino shoppers; Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein and Yves Saint Laurent were most sought after by Latin American consumers, and Hermès was the brand of choice for the Japanese.

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