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Why Luxury Brands Are Using Sustainability to Attract Millennials

February 26th, 2019 | 2 min. read

Why Luxury Brands Are Using Sustainability to Attract Millennials Blog Feature

Jessica Keefe

Jessica is an integrated marketing leader specializing in strategic B2B and B2C enterprise solutions.

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There is something ironic about luxury brands marketing to millennials. Maybe it’s the idea that this generation buys more into the brand no matter what the cost. Don’t believe me? In the first quarter of 2018 alone, Gucci’s sales reached $2.2 billion in revenue. This was a 48.7% increase compared to the same period last year. Why did this spike happen? Those gosh darn millennials.  

According to Francois-Henri Pinault, CEO of Kering, Gucci's parent company, millennials and Gen Z account for nearly 50% of Gucci’s total sales. So how is the company winning over the demographic? Aside from rappers like 2 Chainz and Bhad Bhabie referencing the brand in their popular song lyrics, Gucci is tapping into millennial values like sustainability and purpose.  

The Myth About Millennials and Repurposing Luxury

In fact, millennials and Gen Z do not buy into the traditional definition of luxury being an exclusive high-quality product. What’s more interesting is that millennials are actually less interested in outward displays of status. 

According to a Deloitte survey pooled from 1,005 millennial luxury consumers from the US, UK, Italy, and China, “Respondents from all four geographies were most likely to say that they bought luxury to please themselves, not to impress others or to do what influencers or celebrities said they should do.”

With this new consumer demographic requesting passion and purpose, luxury brands are switching the pillars of their branding.  

Many brands are being asked to prioritize sustainability and ethical manufacturing due to the high demand from consumers and the media. In 2015, Nielsen conducted a study finding consumers will pay more when sustainability is transparent in companies. We can see this with how Gucci’s “Gucci Equilibrium” environmental awareness program grants the brand accountability its consumers seek.  

It’s not only Gucci shifting its social values but also Adidas and Stella McCartney are adopting sustainable practices. Adidas’ sustainability roadmap for 2020 states:  

"As a global sports company, we believe that through sport we have the power to change lives. This is supported by research we have conducted. It shows that our consumers believe that sport makes us healthy and happy, that it creates value and empowers people. An impressive 92% even say that sport has a positive impact on our society. But for sport to change lives, it needs a space to exist, a field to play on, an ocean to surf or a mountain to climb – and these spaces are increasingly endangered due to man-made issues including human rights violations, pollution, growing energy consumption and waste. "  

This doesn’t mean luxury has to sacrifice craftsmanship but showcasing how this craftsmanship came to be can push millennial consumers faster and further down the customer journey.