MILAN — Luxury is not a frivolous concern to Europeans — it’s of strategic importance.

More than 75 percent of Europeans view the high-end products industry as key to Europe’s cultural and economic future, according to a new study presented to the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday.

In a survey of 5,000 Europeans across five countries — the U.K., Italy, Germany, France and Spain — 77 percent said European high-end goods were important for employment and growth, up from 69 percent in a similar poll taken in 2009. Seventy-four percent said high-end goods were key to Europe’s global competitiveness.

Similar majorities thought luxury goods were important for the prestige and appeal of cities, and for broadcasting European culture to the world.


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The study was conducted by polling firm TNS Sofres for the European Cultural and Creative Industries Allianc, or ECCIA, a consortium of five national European luxury goods associations.

“Two main, important points came out of the study. First, European citizens see high-end goods as ambassadors of European values and global cultural influence. Second, they also see high-end industry as important for European growth, employment and competitiveness,” ECCIA president Armando Branchini told WWD.

Branchini is also vice president of the Fondazione Altagamma, the Italian contingent of ECCIA, and said he and TNS Sofres director general Edouard Lecerf addressed about 40 European Union parliamentarians and European Commission representatives. Branchini said the aim of the presentation was mainly to increase EU sensitivities to the sector.

“It is important that decisions are not taken that damage this sector,” Branchini said, “We want to continue to flourish, grow, innovate and hire.”

Europe’s personal luxury goods market — products like apparel, jewelry, shoes, leather goods, watches and cosmetics — grew by double digits for three years in a row from 2009 to 2012, according to the May 16 “Worldwide Luxury Markets Monitor,” by Bain & Company for Fondazione Altagamma. Europe’s entire high-end goods sector — a gamut of categories ranging from gourmet food, furniture, cars and yachts to personal luxury goods — saw a total turnover of 440 billion euros ($517 billion), accounting for 3 percent of Europe’s GDP, and employed 1.5 million people, said a June 2012 report based on 2010 figures by Frontier Economics for ECCIA.

European brands made up 70 percent of the global luxury goods market, Frontier also found.


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But while a resounding chorus of Europeans agree on the cultural and economic importance of their high-end goods, the TNS Sofres-ECCIA study also revealed disagreement about the values associated with “high end.” Sixty-five percent or more of Brits and Spaniards said “quality” is high end, while just 45 percent of Italians did. “Price” was cited by 37 to 50 percent of respondents across the five countries.

And while a hefty portion of French, Italians and Germans associated “beauty” with high-end products — 26, 28 and 35 percent, respectively — only 9 percent of the British respondents did.

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