Study Finds Young Consumers Like Luxury Fashion, Want Retail Options for It

Millennials and Gen Zers are famously educated and mindful consumers. They navigate their endless retail options, both online and in-store, by researching and pre-shopping online before they buy.

But they’re also keen on good, old luxury fashion, according to a recent study from market analytics firm NPD Group. “A Millennial Approach to Luxury,” a collaboration between NPD Group and data analysis firm Stylitics, found that the average young luxury consumer owns nine luxury fashion items across accessories, apparel, and footwear. The study polled U.S. females ages 18–45 who own at least two items from a pre-defined list of luxury brands and retailers.

Respondents said their top criteria for making a luxury fashion purchase decision was, in descending order: if a  brand was widely identified as highly coveted or prestigious, product quality, distinctiveness, and “timeless style.”

But what’s perhaps more revealing for retailers is how young consumers are shopping for their high-end apparel, jewelry, and accessories.

As we already know, they’re putting thought and research time into every purchase decision. And the study corroborates that—nearly three- quarters polled said their favorite luxury purchase was planned in advance. That said, not all pre-shopping happens on iPhones. The report found that in-store browsing influenced more shoppers in their latest luxury purchase than any other factor, “including needs around a personal event or occasion.”

Pure-play websites and department stores with multiple brand offerings ranked as the top two avenues respondents said they like to shop. More than half of millennial and Gen Z luxury consumers prefer to shop mostly or only online, according to the study, but more than one-third prefer in-store luxury fashion shopping.

“The multi-platform shopping experience has become as important in the luxury market as it is for retail in general,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry adviser for NPD Group in a statement. “The younger luxury consumer demands the quality and cachet expected from luxury items, but they also expect the shopping variety that allows them to find something unique.”

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