The year 2020 was a “reset” period for luxury. Although the growing population and increasing purchasing power in Southeast Asia boosted sales of luxury brands in the region, lack of travel, cautious spending and a surge in online shopping changed the game. It demanded flexibility from luxury brands.
To understand the changing luxury landscape, Isentia uncovered discussions in mainstream and social media across major Southeast Asian countries — Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. Drawing from media analytics data obtained between 1 October 2020 and 15 November 2020, Isentia identified the key trends across key SEA countries that should be relevant in 2021.
Celebrity and Korean pop influences
Philippine mainstream media reported heavily on local celebrities like Heart Evangelista, Sharon Cuneta and Kris Aquino with their luxury items. Social media conversations for the top luxury brands in the Philippines were primarily driven by discussions on local and K-pop celebrity brand ambassadors. K-pop celebrities who were named brand ambassadors were the most consistent drivers of social media conversations in the region.
Income disparity, religious tensions
IU donning Gucci Epilogue look 5.
Another notable trend was the income disparity and religious tension in the region. The dissatisfaction towards French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech on fighting “Islamist separatism” angered Muslims worldwide and led to mainstream media coverage on the boycotting of French luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Indonesian netizens highlighted the vast income disparity in the country as celebrities threw their luxury bags away, with several asking for the celebrities’ bags instead.
The media coverage in Singapore was driven by business and profit-centered focus articles that delved into LVMH and Tiffany’s price agreements in a $16 billion takeover deal, innovative business strategies including the use of augmented reality at Dior and messaging apps at Louis Vuitton. While Singaporean netizens mentioned a range of luxury brands as part of discussions on life decisions and rituals — what, when and where should luxury brands like Tiffany & Co., Gucci and Louis Vuitton be bought or gifted for dating, marriage proposals and work purposes.
JUNG Woo-sung looks dashing in his Gucci suit. / PHOTOGRAPHs COURTESY OF Gucci
“A strong reflection of Singapore’s material wealth has been the continued interest in luxury products among Singaporean netizens despite the Covid-19 climate,” Isentia’s Senior insights manager, Singapore, Jenna Wang said.
Vietnam’s entry stage
Coverage from digital journalism and social media conversation in Vietnam alluded to the growing demand for well-made and meaningful luxury items. Vietnamese consumers are beginning to reject fast fashion and seek the image of success/status by owning luxury. The mainstream media coverage circled local partnerships made by Chanel, films of meticulously handcrafted Dior handbags and the moving story of Louis Vuitton chairman and CEO’s success. The social buzz in Vietnam supported these sentiments as numerous netizens shared about the must-have Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Gucci skincare, makeup and fashion items.
KIM Sungryung wearing Gucci Epilogue look 31.
“Vietnam is at its entry stage of the luxury industry, which has been fueled by economic growth, the rise of e-commerce, celebrities and international travels, along with increasingly connected consumers.
Middle-class Vietnamese are spending on second-hand or hand-carried goods, makeup and accessory lines. The growing need of owning genuine products posed opportunities in the Vietnam market; however, luxury brands would need a strategic move to win over counterfeits and second-hand supplies,” Nhi Tran, Isentia’s senior insights manager, Vietnam, explained.
Louis Vuitton x Urs Fischer collection. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF LOUIS VUITTON
On the contrary, referencing the luxury industry in Malaysia, Isentia’s associate insights director, Malaysia, Ho Paik San, noted that consumer confidence has slowed down as the market endured the economic recession and declining outlook of job prospects. “The demand for luxury brands in Malaysia has been dampened as countries continue to close their borders to tourism. Due to the drastic decline in foreign tourists, luxury retailers are moving to online shopping, and this mode of shopping will become another major distribution channel for luxury goods in the country,” she added.
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