Nothing can predict sales and future growth for a luxury brand quite as well as its popularity online right now. This is why we’ve analysed how the world’s top luxury brands are ranking online and what’s making them so popular among affluent consumers in 2018.
Because the share of online interest is a strong indicator of future sales, we expect the luxury brands that made our top 15 to show strong performances at the end of the year. Every luxury brand on our list is enjoying significant customer attention. They each drive substantial online conversations across social media channels and search results. They are at the centre of what matters to modern affluent consumers and influencers.
Why stopping at 15, you may ask. Because after number 15 on our list, the attention that the other luxury brands were receiving dropped significantly. You’ll see that even within the top 15, the top 5 brands alone are already capturing more than 60% of the affluent consumers’ attention. Consumer’s interest is indeed highly concentrated at the top of our list.
How do we estimate the online popularity of a luxury brand? We took into account a combination of brand value, search share of voice and social media conversations to create this list. You can read more details about our methodology and data sources at the end of this article.
In this article, you will discover which luxury brands are the most talked about and sought-after online in 2018. You’ll also see the results of their marketing efforts in terms of consumer engagement and brand awareness. We highlight particularly noteworthy marketing campaigns and successful new product launches that help explain their current popularity.
Gucci ranks number one on our list of the most popular luxury brands of 2018, well ahead of all its competitors. And it’s no surprise really — sales and market share are up for the luxury fashion brand. Affluent millennials love the Italian brand. Gucci’s hashtag mentions across digital platforms outsize all other luxury fashion brands worldwide.
Gucci has consistently produced some of the most avant-garde and engaging social media campaigns of the year, experimenting with creative formats and collaborations (from #GucciGram to #TFWGucci).
The Gucci brand has been rejuvenated with a modern look and innovative digital marketing initiatives led by CEO Marco Bizzari and creative director Alessandro Michele.
Said to have “cracked the luxury code with Millennials” as evidenced by its revenue, Gucci is trying to “redefine modern luxury fashion” with its socially-conscious approach to marketing, innovative digital initiatives and maximalist aesthetic that seems to be “Made for Instagram.” Gucci’s rich designs and signatures (such as bold florals, clashing prints, snake graphics and green and red stripes) have become highly coveted and fuel Gucci’s high online engagement rates.
An influencer’s favourite, Gucci’s accessories such as their Princetown slippers, designer sneakers and the GG logo belt have struck a chord with the younger affluent generations and have taken social media by storm.
The brand also appointed a “committee” of millennial digital natives, allowing it to better engage with the coveted younger generation. Millennials make up more than half of Gucci’s customers.
One of the fastest growing luxury brands in the world when it comes to brand value, Gucci is also the most searched fashion brand in the world on Google in 2017 and 2018.
Gucci is owned by fashion conglomerate Kering, which is controlled by French billionaire Francois Pinault.
French couture house Chanel ranks second on our list but is only number 87 on Forbes list of the top 100 most valuable brands in 2018, with an estimated brand value of $8 Billion.
Interestingly, despite its very limited e-commerce adoption, Chanel has been investing successfully in other areas of digital. Chanel is leading in digital luxury storytelling with thumb-stopping visuals and engaging videos that drive interest cross-platform — from narrative-led, celebrity-driven campaigns to behind-the-scenes and tutorial-based content.
Reminding affluent consumers of the brand’s long history, #InsideChanel series takes viewers into the world of Chanel since the birth of Gabrielle Chanel in 1883.
Chanel remains a privately held company owned by Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, grandsons of Pierre Wertheimer, who was an early business partner of Coco Chanel. The product range includes clothes, fragrances, handbags and watches. The brand is most famous for its “little black dress”, the Chanel No. 5 perfume and the Chanel Suit. Karl Lagerfeld joined Chanel as its creative director in 1983 and continues in the role today at 83 years old.
3. Louis Vuitton
Famous French luxury house Louis Vuitton, or LV, ranks number three on our list of the most popular high-end brands online. The popularity of the brand has particularly grown after they announced that famous streetwear and digital-powered designer Virgil Abloh would become their new menswear Artistic Director.
Louis Vuitton’s much-hyped collaboration with New York cult streetwear brand Supreme (with an intensely loyal following) drove an increase in brand searches across a more diverse audience, helped connect with the most coveted Millennial luxury shoppers and opened up a new market of untapped customers.
The value of the Louis Vuitton brand was estimated at $33.6 Billion in Forbes’ 2018 most valuable brands index. It’s the highest ranking luxury brand on their list.
Headquartered in Paris, France, privately held French luxury house Hermès ranks number four on our list. Offline, Hermès enjoys the constant popularity of some of its timeless classics, such as the very sought-after Birkin bag.
Online, Hermès is, finally, cranking up its e-commerce strategy and recently completed the rollout of its new website internationally.
Conceived and designed with an omnichannel approach, the “digital flagship”, as Hermès defines it, pairs content and commerce. The new Hermes.com is rich in editorial content (such as behind-the-scenes or a look at its made-to-measure know-how), offers a user-friendly interface, is easy to navigate, and features an e-store with a large array of Hermès’s products, from ready-to-wear to leather goods, silk scarves, watches, and more.
Hermès is firmly on board with the rising and more widely accepted notion that affluent consumers are willing to purchase luxury products online.
You will not find the Birkin and Kelly bags on the e-store though, which must still be purchased in-store. But that has everything to do with demand and nothing to do with the expensive price tag.
Rolex takes the fifth place on our list. The world-renowned luxury watch company is also featured on Forbes top 100 most valuable brands in the world, taking spot 71 with an estimated brand value of $9.3 Billion.
New watch models announced during the annual Baselworld conference at the beginning of the year drove most of the conversations around Rolex online. A refresh of the Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II, new dial designs for the Oyster Perpetual Datejust 36 and the Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31, and the new combination of rose gold and sapphires and diamonds for the Rolex Daytona went viral across watch aficionados.
In 2018, Rolex successfully managed to tap into the affluent Millennial consumers’ aspiration to purchase traditional luxury mechanical watches.
Rolex has a solid brand presence in the world of sports with endorsements in golf, motor sports, tennis and yachting. Some of the world’s most famous athletes advertise for Rolex watches including Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Lindsey Vonn and Phil Mickelson.
American high-end jewellery brand Tiffany & Co. takes the sixth place of our ranking of the most popular luxury brands online. Their product range includes jewellery, crystal, stationery, water bottles, fragrances, and watches.
Tiffany started to sell a selection of styles online in collaboration with Net-a-Porter (the first retailer to sell Tiffany online, outside of its own channels) to reach a new generation of customers.
In an effort to appeal to Millennials and move from its perception as a gifting brand to a self-purchasing brand, Tiffany, is tapping on young faces like Elle Fanning, Lady Gaga and Zoe Kravitz to makeover its campaigns. Tiffany gained a lot of attention in 2018 with their popular ad campaign featuring actress and fashion model Elle Fanning.
Tiffany earned 1st rank in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Watches & Jewelry 2018 thanks to its investment in digital initiatives.
Tiffany performs really well on social media, especially Instagram where it is often quick to embrace new features such as Stories and polls.
Tiffany also has best-in-class product pages on its website, strong organic Google search visibility and strong omnichannel capabilities on mobile.
Christian Dior SE, commonly known as Dior, is a French luxury goods company. Dior takes the seventh place on our list thanks to its exclusive collections and premium beauty product line.
Maria Grazia Chiuri, who became the creative director of the French luxury brand in July 2016, brought a Millennial-friendly approach to Dior. Her famous “We Should All Be Feminists” statement t-shirt and the social media-friendly “J’adior” branding among kitten heels and bags attracted huge attention on Instagram. Dior was labelled as Instagram’s most buzzed-about fashion brand of 2017.
Previously reluctant to invest in Direct-to-Consumer e-commerce, Christian Dior is now focusing on omnichannel retail and online growth. In April 2018, Christian Dior Couture has appointed Jens Riewenherm as Chief Digital Officer to help bring the luxury shopping experience online.
Armani is a famous privately owned Italian luxury fashion house founded by Giorgio Armani in 1975. The luxury fashion brand offers a broad range of fashion products – from leather goods and ready to wear, to watches, shoes, jewellery, accessories, and more.
In line with the new way affluent consumers shop for luxury goods and dress today (people now mix and match labels to create their own unique look), Armani has recently adopted a new brand strategy: consolidation.
Armani reduced its number of brands from seven down to the core three, namely: high-end Giorgio Armani, mid-range Emporio Armani and youth-oriented A|X Armani Exchange. These three names happen to be the most popular search terms for Armani online.
Founded in 1913 by Mario Prada, Italian luxury fashion house Prada has grown into one of the most notable luxury brands in the industry.
It’s the rise of athleisure accessories that pushed Prada in the top most popular luxury brands online in 2018. It successfully captured new interests with its inspired marketing campaigns and new product lines, such as its popular Cloudburst sneakers and nylon belt bags.
Creative director Miuccia Prada indeed reintroduced Prada’s iconic nylon material as well as the label’s retro logo as the centrepiece of the Fall/Winter 2018 collection and created pieces with a modern athleisure influence – a tribute of sorts to the early ’90s which has proved popular with modern luxury consumers.
If you’re still not convinced of the resurgence of Prada, just take a scroll through Instagram.
Part of French luxury group Kering, Balenciaga is becoming one of the fastest-growing fashion luxury brands in the world.
Helmed by designer Demna Gvasalia, the reinvention of Balenciaga with a streetwear and athleisure feel has attracted Millennials and Generation Z luxury shoppers — said to make up 60 percent of Balenciaga’s consumers — and is driving Balenciaga’s popularity with fashion influencers and runway shows alike.
Balenciaga has seen impressive growth in certain categories, including handbags, clothing and footwear. The Speed Trainers and Triple-S sneakers, in particular, have been turning heads.
Cartier takes the eleventh place on our list of the most popular luxury brands online thanks to a thoughtful combination of highly polished videos and timeless design.
Headquartered in Paris, Cartier is a French designer and manufacturer of luxury jewellery and watches.
Cartier earned the “Genius” status in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Watches & Jewelry 2018 especially thanks to a combination of:
- successful video content on YouTube and Instagram channels
- strong search engine marketing strategies
- a direct-to-consumer e-commerce website with well-integrated customer service features, easy online appointment booking and 360-degree views of products
The fine jewellery and watches brand appeals to the younger generation of luxury shoppers who covet Cartier’s love bangles and Panthers watches and are comfortable purchasing them online. Cartier makes 43% of its sales to under-35s worldwide. The trend is even clearer in Asia where more than half of their customers are Millennials.
Burberry is a British luxury brand that was founded in 1856 and headquartered in London, England. Their iconic fashion products include trench coats, ready to wear clothes, fragrances, fashion accessories, cosmetics, and sunglasses.
British fashion house Burberry attracted a lot of attention with its forward-looking digital retail efforts and sleek online video campaigns. In 2018, it’s their logo redesign that captured its audience comments.
While their signature checked patterns remain a top seller for men jackets, the brand has also ventured in new product lines, namely its watches and perfumes collections.
Part of L’Oréal Paris, Lancôme is a French luxury perfumes and cosmetics house.
Lancôme is the first and only purely beauty luxury brand on our list of the most popular luxury brands online.
Lancôme’s digital performance is topped off with a high volume of editorial content and how-to videos uploaded onto their site. Lancôme has collaborated with some of the most popular YouTube stars including Estée Lalonde and invested in display and video advertising. The unboxing video series for the launch of La Vie est Belle generated over 1.5 million views.
Lancôme also boasts great digital e-commerce features to drive online sales and takes advantage of big data.
Leveraging AR-powered apps (L’Oréal recently acquired technology company Modiface) to demonstrate products, Lancôme is set to continue to improve its ‘digital experiences’.
14. Yves Saint Laurent
Founded in 1961, Yves Saint Laurent is a French luxury fashion house and Kering’s second-largest brand.
Yves Saint Laurent’s current success can be attributed in part to diversification, from ready-to-wear to leather goods, shoes, eyewear and more.
To promote the brand’s millennial male fragrance ‘Y’, Yves Saint Laurent Beauty embraced a more authenticity-focused philosophy, working with a carefully chosen group of quirky male influencers – each with their own unique style and personality – upping the brand’s ‘cool’ credentials and edge.
The result? A whopping 70% follower growth and close to 30,000 social media mentions.
Ending our list of the most popular luxury brands online is the Italian heritage luxury jewellery and accessories house, Bulgari, founded in Rome in 1884.
Ranked in the top 10 of L2’s Digital IQ Index: Watches & Jewelry 2018, Bulgari has made significant improvements to its website which are worth noticing — from live chat to content investments on product pages.
Bulgari’s presence in social media is especially strong thanks to its localisation approach and social for good campaigns:
- Customise campaigns for different markets: Global luxury brand Bulgari adapts its campaigns to different local markets by working with hand-picked sets of influencers in different geographic segments.
- Trigger social media action for good: Social campaigns drive people to share and engage with the brand content. Its #SeeMyWish campaign, for example, invited people to post a closed-eyes selfie or share the brand’s video, in order for Bulgari to donate to Save the Children.
To woo the affluent millennial consumers, Bulgari is also rethinking store design and launching edgier, lower-priced collections such as B.zero1.
Bulgari is celebrating young talents from different walks of life by enlisting young faces (such as model Bella Hadid) and appointing digital ambassadors amidst a new generation of influential models and internet superstars, from Instagram’s Golden Barbie, Jasmine Sanders to Brazilian influencer-entrepreneur Helena Bordon.