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Digital is transforming luxury. Premium brands have now access to new means to reach and engage their affluent consumers. We’ve talked before about the digital transformation of the luxury retail industry, for example. But the changes don’t stop there. New opportunities arise as high-end brands speak directly to their affluent customers and position their offering unique new ways.

Some brands are doing it better than others, however. It’s evident when looking at their popularity online. According to a new report by Luxe Digital, the top 15 most popular luxury brands online are particularly brilliant at generating online awareness but also at creating deep emotional connections with their audience.

The ranking is perfect to see who will do very well this year and predict sales growth towards the end of the year. It’s also a great source of inspiration for luxury leaders looking to learn from the best. By seeing how the top high-end brands are performing online, we can understand why they are so popular and how their approach could be replicated.

Gucci is dominating the 2018 ranking, followed by Chanel and Louis Vuitton.

More surprising, the high-end Italian fashion brand Balenciaga saw impressive growth thanks to its fresh take on the high-end sneakers and streetwear.

New affluent consumers behaviour

Overall, the list is largely dominated by fashion brands, although Rolex and Tiffany carved themselves a position in the top 10. Interestingly, Lancôme is the only high-end natural beauty brand present in the ranking, only appearing as number 13.

Luxe Digital highlights the Direct-to-Consumer retail model as a clear trend in the sector, with increasingly more luxury brands adopting the approach. DTC is indeed seen as the best way for high-end brands to maintain control and ownership of their brand online.

Social media influencers are also being recognised as key players in 2018. Virtually every brand in the top 15 is working with online influencers to shape the social media conversation around their product and help with brand discovery.

For luxury fashion specifically, high-end streetwear is clearly leading the online conversations this year. Other noticeable trends for 2018 include more interest in eco-friendly production, recycling and social causes. Natural cosmetics, natural and vegan beauty products, in particular, are also generating a lot of online interest.

The rising share of Millennials and Generation Z luxury customers

These trends are driven by the growing portion of affluent Millennials and Generation Z luxury consumers. The new demographic is indeed more socially-conscious in their purchase behaviour. The disruptive impact of technology combined with shifting consumers’ values and preferences is challenging the traditional notions of what luxury is. As brands seek to engage the modern, sophisticated luxury consumer, the ability to pivot to this new reality will continue to widen the gap between top-performing luxury brands and those that are slower to evolve.

As younger generations become important buyers of high-end goods, modern luxury brands are evolving their offer to meet the changing tastes of affluent consumers around the world. Luxury brands are also adapting their marketing strategy to appeal to younger affluent consumers by providing a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels online and offline.

Luxury leaders are finally embracing digital technologies, aware of the critical role these new technologies play in driving their narrative.

If you’re wondering how your brand would fare against the 15 most popular luxury brands of the year, Luxe Digital shared their methodology in details so you can easily reproduce their evaluation process for your own business.

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